NEW YORK -- For the first time in nearly three decades, Mercedes-Benz will offer a four-cylinder diesel engine in the United States when the GLK250 BlueTec compact crossover goes on sale Tuesday, April 30.
The GLK250's all-aluminum 2.1-liter twin-turbo diesel also will replace a 3.0-liter V-6 diesel in the restyled E-class sedan in September and will be used in the redesigned C-class sedan in 2015.
Mercedes last offered a four-cylinder diesel here in 1985, in the 2.2-liter 190D.
The GLK250 will be the fifth diesel-powered model in the Mercedes-Benz USA lineup. The S-class sedan and the ML and GL crossovers are available with V-6s. The three bigger vehicles aren't likely to get the four-cylinder diesel, Mercedes executives said last week at a press event here.
The GLK250 BlueTec engine gets 20 to 30 percent better fuel economy than a gasoline-powered GLK, said Bart Herring, head of product management for Mercedes-Benz USA.
Mercedes says the crossover gets 24 mpg city and 33 mpg highway, compared with 19 mpg city and 24 highway for the GLK350 awd with a 3.5-liter V-6 gasoline engine. The GLK250's diesel, which is teamed with a seven-speed automatic, produces 200 hp and 369 pounds-feet of torque.
Mercedes expects sales penetration to mirror that of the two larger crossover diesels -- 14 percent for the ML in 2012 and 25 percent for the GL.
The base price is $39,459, with shipping, or $536 more than the six-cylinder GLK350 with awd.
Mercedes-Benz will offer the GLK diesel only with standard all-wheel drive because 65 percent of its crossover buyers choose that transmission. Last year Mercedes-Benz sold 29,364 GLKs in the United States, up 21 percent from 2011. The GLK competes with the Audi Q5, Acura RDX, BMW X3, Infiniti EX and the Range Rover Evoque, none of which are available with a diesel.