As early as 1977, Brabus was transforming average Benzes into perfect definitions of "wolves in sheep clothing". A Gasser Hot Rod soundtrack on an understated W126 S-Klasse? Done! Raw V8 power on a petite 190 E? You got it! All of this naturally came courtesy of Brabus' finest engineering work. In 33 years the company expanded from a somewhat of a backyard Mercedes-Benz tuner to an actual low series car manufacturer.
Their insatiable appetite for power and speed has led them over the years to appear in the Guinness Book of Records several times. Their first record appeared as early as 1985, when Brabus aerodynamically optimized a W124 Mercedes to achieve a world-beating Cd of just 0.26. By the way, the car looked as understated as they get, without any flamboyant display of low-drag spoilers and other such extreme aerodynamic solutions.
Since then, the "world's fastest sedan" trophy has been won for no less than four times by the insane tuners from Bottrop, first with different generations of the E V12 and then with the CLS-based Rocket, while last year they also managed to snatch the award for making the world's fastest SUV in the form of the Brabus GLK V12. Not too shabby for the world's largest tuner.
About a month ago we managed to secure a factory visit at the Brabus headquarters in Bottrop. Among other gearhead activities there, we also got the chance to test drive two of the masterpieces on wheels recently created by Brabus engineers. The one we will talk about in this review is the most mental Mercedes-Benz SUV we have ever driven – a Brabus GLK V8.
Based on the W204 C-Klasse platform, the X204-codenamed GLK is technically Mercedes-Benz's response to the rather successful BMW X3, a car whose facelift version we tested last year. A pretty good seller so far, the GLK is now about to face competition from both BMW's newly-launched second generation X3 and the Audi Q5.
Considering its current engine line-up is adamantly aimed at the ones that can be found on its direct competitors, there aren't that many chances that if you buy a GLK you will keep up with the Joneses by default. Brabus offers a solution to this problem though. And what a solution!
Shoehorning a 6.1-liter normally aspirated V8 under the hood of a Mercedes-Benz GLK can pretty much reassure its potential customers that they will have the hottest premium compact crossover in a neighborhood populated by four and six-cylinder BMWs X3 and Audis Q5. Did we say "premium"? The Brabus GLK V8 is quite a bit above that moniker, as you will soon find out from our review. Continue reading