Mercedes-Benz Tuner Challenge at SEMA 2008: The GLK in Las Vegas
Mercedes-Benz has created an unconventional presentation idea under the heading "Tuner Challenge". Ahead of the equally unconventional SEMA Show in the gaming hotspot of Las Vegas, the Stuttgart company announced a competition for tuning firms. The object of desire – the compact GLK-Class. The distinctively styled automotive character with an edge seems predestined to arouse a wide range of tuning fantasies.
Tuning operations were tasked with highlighting the possibilities presented by the GLK's wide-ranging talents through their ideas and designs. The four most convincing concepts were selected and the winners given the opportunity to implement their proposals. This process saw the creation of GLK models that are as leading-edge as they are unorthodox, and that now take centre stage in Mercedes' participation at this year's SEMA Show. "Widestar", "The GLK Urban Whip", "The GLK Pikes Peak Rally Racer" and "The GLK Rock Crawler" will attract attention even at SEMA, which is not exactly short on highlights and is becoming increasingly important as a trendsetting springboard for the European tuning scene. This presentation also represents the GLK premiere on the North American market, where sales are scheduled to begin in January 2009. "Our GLK is a character bursting with expressiveness, and a new model for us within a young market segment in the U.S.," comments Mercedes-Benz Head of Design Gorden Wagener. "We selected SEMA in Las Vegas as the backdrop for its first appearance in North America because we want 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."
Good market prospects are being forecast for the compact GLK in the U.S. The visual appeal and functionality of its exterior design make the GLK a distinctive and versatile vehicle, as do its exceptional handling and excellent safety characteristics combined with superb comfort both on and off-road.
GLK-Class freely interpreted four times
Four fundamentally different rebuilds make one thing abundantly clear – the GLK-Class is one of the most multi-faceted SUV models ever, and one that retains its distinctive character, even in the face of somewhat unconventional modifications. 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," continues Gorden Wagener.
* 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.
* 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 is the name given by Boulevard Customs from St. Petersburg, Florida to its creation, which makes its entrance with a significantly widened bodyshell, massive 26 inch wheels and a mighty on-board entertainment system that, according to the figures, is likely to have an impact at full blast of seismological proportions.
* 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 provide wakeboarders and snowboarders alike with the necessary impetus.
The base vehicle for Boulevard Customs, Legendary Motorcar and RENNtech is the series production GLK350 with a 3.5 litre V6 engine generating 200 kW/272 hp, while BRABUS opted for the diesel-driven GLK 320 CDI 4MATIC. The base versions of all models are equipped with the 7G-TRONIC seven-speed automatic transmission.
Show vehicles with public voting
Mercedes-Benz is combining a voting program for the North American public with its appearances at SEMA and the subsequent Los Angeles Motor Show, where the customized GLKs will also be presented. At either show, or in the internet at www.mbusa.com, visitors can cast their vote for their favourite model. The winner of the "Tuner Challenge" will be announced on 2nd December.
The American trade body SEMA (Specialty Equipment Market Association) has been hosting the tuning show of the same name for over forty years. Starting out as a performance show for a specific few industry insiders, SEMA has grown to become the most important trade show in tuning, accessories, components and workshop equipment throughout the American continent, and is exercising an increasing influence on the European tuning scene. SEMA 2008 take place as always in the Las Vegas Convention Center, and is open exclusively to trade visitors from 4th – 7th November.