The presentation has represented the GLK premiere on the North American market, where sales are scheduled to begin in January 2009.
Tuning operations were tasked with highlighting the possibilities presented by the GLK’s wide-ranging talents through their ideas and designs.
The base vehicle is the series production GLK 350 with a 3.5 litre V6 engine generating
200 kW/272 hp, while BRABUS opted for the diesel-driven GLK 320 CDI 4MATIC.
The four most convincing concepts, were selected and the winners – tuning specialists RENNtech, Brabus, Boulevard Customs and Legendary Motorcar Company – were given the opportunity to implement their proposals.
With each respective tuner fantasy and the help of some exotic ingredients, the SUV has been turned into an exclusive specialist for the road, beach, city or rally stage.
“We wanted to see what kinds of interpretations were inspired by our GLK and how they would further sharpen this very strong character. The tuners opted for completely differing approaches, demonstrating the potential of our GLK concept,” said Gorden Wagener.
GLK Pikes Peak Rally Racer by RENNtech
With its GLK Pikes Peak Rally Racer, RENNtech from Lake Park, Florida has created a motorsport vehicle inspired by the unlimited class of the legendary Pikes Peak Hill Climb in Colorado. The drivetrain of the RENNtech GLK is complemented by a hybrid module that guarantees excellent acceleration figures.
Widestar by Brabus
Brabus, based in Bottrop, Germany, represents the German element of this tuning fraternity and presents the Widestar, a production-ready, high-performance on-road vehicle that also pays tribute to the distinctive refinement
of vehicles bearing the three-pointed star.
GLK Urban Whip by Boulevard Customs
The GLK Urban Whip by Boulevard Customs from St. Petersburg, Florida has a convertible layout, with a significantly widened bodyshell, massive 26 inch wheels and a mighty on-board entertainment system.
GLK Rock Crawler by Legendary Motorcar Company
The team at the Legendary Motorcar Company from Ontario, Canada, which
is more commonly associated with the restoration of American muscle cars, created The GLK Rock Crawler. The exotic design for snow and sand includes a winch system that can be used by wakeboarders and snowboarders.
Interview with Mercedes-Benz Head of Design Gorden Wagener
“Mercedes is rediscovering SEMA with the GLK. Our GLK is a very trendy vehicle with an extremely cool presence, which is why we value the connection to the almost crazy, very lifestyle-oriented SEMA Show and the glamour of its setting in Las Vegas. Moreover, this tuning show has developed to become one of the most important automobile trade shows in North America. We have to be there with our GLK, which is a very important vehicle for Mercedes, especially in the U.S.”
Is it a good fit – a somewhat extreme US tuning show like SEMA and a premium manufacturer like Mercedes-Benz?
“We thing SEMA is an incredibly inspiring event, and we are very much looking forward to it. SEMA is a show for car fans – you could almost say for car nuts.
"And that’s why this is a perfect setting for our GLK, which stands out from the competition with its highly unconventional and distinctive design. The GLK is a product personality from Mercedes-Benz and we want to use its appearance at SEMA to underscore its lifestyle and individuality.”
“Our GLK is a character bursting with expressiveness, and a new model for us within a young market segment that we are launching onto the North American market early next year. We selected SEMA in Las Vegas as the backdrop for its first appearance and not the North American International Auto Show, as we might normally have done. It was a very conscious decision to go to Las Vegas,
in order to take advantage of the show’s glamour and to underscore the highly individual character of the GLK. An SUV with an edge that is so refreshingly alternative, demands a somewhat alternative setting.”
What is your thinking behind the GLK presence here? Are you taking any unusual approaches?
“The GLK is being presented in a number of versions created by three North American and one German tuner on the basis of the series production vehicle. The tuners had a free hand and were tasked to use their own imaginations to design and individualise the vehicles. Their work has broadened the personality of the GLK to reveal cool and lifestyle-oriented variations of the GLK concept. In essence – a very special appearance at a very special auto show with very unconventional vehicles.”
A brave step indeed! How did the idea come about to create this “tuning competition”?
“We wanted to see what kinds of interpretations were inspired by our GLK and how they would add emphasis to the personality of this very strong character. The tuners opted for completely differing approaches, demonstrating the enormous variability of our GLK concept.”
Do you think you will gain insight from North America’s leading trend show that will be relevant for the German or European market?
“Our highly unconventional SEMA appearance and the resulting public reaction will enable us to deduce certain trends in respect of what a cool car in the compact SUV segment might look like. And, in our experience, these trends apply not only to North America, but also more and more to Europe and the rest of the world. Younger customers in particular are quick to pick up on trends from the U.S. This is another reason why we maintain our own design studio in the U.S.”