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by George Skentzos

Our spy photographers have captured a scantily clad 2009 Mercedes GLK undergoing testing in snowy conditions.

Whilst it may look near identical to the Mercedes GL, this GLK prototype is considerably smaller, hence the suffix ‘K’ which is a diminutive of the German “kurz,” meaning short.

The GLK is Mercedes’ answer to the BMW X3 and Audi’s forthcoming Q5, and utilises technical components from the highly acclaimed C-Class.

2009 Mercedes GLK spy shots

Power is expected to come from a 3.5-litre V6 engine coupled with Mercedes’ 4Matic all-wheel drive system.

The 7G-Tronic TouchShift automatic transmission is also expected to be available across the range.

A high-output GLK63 AMG variation sporting a V8 powerplant is also a possibility in the near future.

The GLK is intended to reclaim lost ground for Mercedes as US sales subside as the market slowly moves away from the big SUV.