The ‘Black Crystal’ is a Russian-tuned Mercedes GL-Class fit for the KGB

If you own a Mercedes-Benz, there’s no shortage of tuners, like Brabus, that want to get their hands on it.

Now, you can even get a tuned Merc from America’s Cold War adversary. Russia’s Larte Design hopes to break into the U.S. market with the Black Crystal, which is based on the GL-Class.

The Black Crystal gets a new front fascia with a massive grille and LED daytime running lights with “crystal-shaped edges.” Widened fenders accommodate custom 22-inch alloy wheels, and the whole vehicle is blacked out. It looks like the preferred transportation of some highly sinister government agency.

At the back, there’s a Formula One-style center brake light and rear diffuser, which look a bit out of place on this giant Mercedes.

Larte Design Mercedes-Benz GL black crystal

The version seen here is powered by a European-spec 3.0-liter turbo diesel V6 that produces 290 horsepower and 508 lb-ft of torque, thanks to upgrades from Germany’s Wetterauer and a new exhaust system from Remus.

That’s a healthy increase over the stock 258 hp and 457 lb-ft, or the U.S.-spec GL350 BlueTec’s 240 hp and 455 lb-ft. While impressive, it would be great to see a GL550 or GL63 AMG get the full Black Crystal treatment. Considering this tuned SUV’s menacing looks, a rumbling gasoline V8 soundtrack would seem more appropriate than diesel thrum.

Larte hasn’t announced its next model, but it says it already has kits for other luxury SUVs, including the Land Rover Range Rover Evoque and Infiniti QX80.


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