When the word went out that Mercedes was running a tuner competition centred on the new GLK luxury SUV, Boulevard identified immediately with the brief for the Urban Whip and lost no time in getting to work.
“I’ve been a Mercedes fan since childhood,” says Boulevard President Chris Bradley, “and when I reviewed the design brief for the Urban Whip I said to myself, ‘we can do this better than anyone’”.
While it may be one of the smaller competitors in the field, Boulevard is big on ideas. Taking its inspiration from a number of Mercedes models, the company set about creating a visual interpretation of the GLK that would put it at the very top of the food chain in the urban jungle.
The most striking feature of the Urban Whip is what is doesn’t have - a roof. Although the original brief required the design to retain the structural integrity of the GLK, the aggressive look of the custom-made wide-body kit - which was developed in cooperation with RoBrady Design - made the roadster temptation difficult to resist. Boulevard submitted renderings of its roadster ideas to Mercedes-BenzUSAand approval was received in double quick time.
Working with NBS Performance, Boulevard removed the roof, shorted the windshield and added the necessary structural bracing to create a roadster with cosmetic modifications to the door tops and pillars. “It was the finishing touch to the whole design,” comments Bradley. “The Urban Whip has that extra wow factor to make it a true head-turner.” With the focus on city life, the design of the wide-body kit is sleek and futuristic.
Boulevard worked with Superior Auto Body on integrating bumpers, side skirts and fender flares to create a factory finish, while the factory grille was opened up wide and finished off with chrome mesh and accents hand-crafted by the artisans at STRUT.
The front headlamps retain their factory look, with the standard bulbs replaced by custom LED units for added performance, while smoked treatment brings distinctive style to the rear light cluster.
The overall ride height has been lowered by 64mm using a one-off set of custom lowering springs. And, when it comes to wheels and tyres, Boulevard is in no doubt that, for urban cruising, there is no substitute for chrome - and that size matters. The Urban Whip is fixed firmly to the asphalt with colossal 26” Asanti AF 150 chrome wheels with custom black accents and wrapped in 295/25 ZR26 Pirelli Scorpion rubber for a perfect ride. The stopping power is provided courtesy of a massive front and rear Brembo performance brake kit, featuring 381mm 2‑piece floating rotors and 8-pot callipers on the front and 344mm 2-piece floating rotors with 4-piston callipers on the rear.
With flagship Mercedes performance models providing the inspiration for the interior, Boulevard worked alongside Mark Kraus and John Lancaster to create a look that is highly individual, yet still distinctly Mercedes. Using a striking black and white colour theme, the design integrates both diamond-stitched and perforated leathers for a distinctive, upscale look and feel. Piano black wood grain trim works together with a custom steering wheel and shift knob to create a cockpit that is as stylish as it is outspoken, while rear passengers are cosseted in twin hand-crafted bucket seats.
No seriously urban cruiser can be complete without a seriously urban stereo. And the absence of a roof will help the GLK Urban Whip share its sound with the rest of the world. Beneath the speedster cover lurks a mighty piece of kit from JL Audio. The custom stereo system pumps out over 5,700 Watts of ear-popping power in a visually stunning installation. Eight HD amps power the ZR component speakers and subwoofers, including six new JL Audio 13TW5 flat subwoofers, two of which are displayed in the rear of the Urban Whip in a custom-made clear acrylic tube that adds emphasis to their compact dimensions and slim profile.
“The GLK was the perfect candidate for the Urban Whip idea,” concludes Bradley. “It has this incredibly powerful persona and shoulders broad enough to carry this kind of work. Working with it brought out the best in all of us.”