The longest-serving Mercedes-Benz model of all time, the G-Class, has been given a new lease-of-life through a comprehensive redesign of its chassis, powertrain, and comfort and technology features to deliver a contemporary driving experience.
The new car retains key aspects of the G-Class, such as its ladder-type frame, low-range gear system and triple locking differential system (front axle, rear axle, and centre transfer case) – and builds on those traits that have made it a sterling off-road performer known the world over.
Only a handful of key features have been left unchanged since the last generation - the distinctive door handle and the characteristic closing sound, the robust exterior protective strip, the exposed spare wheel on the rear door and the prominent front fender indicator lights.
Starting from the ground up, the new ladder type frame has been substantially revised. At the front, Mercedes-Benz co-developed a new suspension system with Mercedes-AMG which features independent suspension with a double-wishbone front axle.
The components of the double-wishbone front axle are directly mounted to the ladder-type frame without a subframe. The lower wishbone's attachment points on the frame in ‘Z-direction’ are positioned as high up as possible. The G-Class’ ground clearance is now 270 mm to the front axle gear case. A strut tower brace in the engine compartment further adds rigidity to the front end.
At the rear, the new rigid axle is controlled by four trailing arms on each side and a ‘Panhard rod’. Mercedes-Benz claims a rear spring bound and rebound travel of 82 mm and 142 mm respectively and ground clearance of 241 mm to the rear axle gear case.
The G-Class key off-road parameters are as follows:
One varinat for now, the G500, which is powered by a 4.0-litre twin-turbo V8 that produces 422 hp and a maximum torque of 610 Nm between 2000 and 4750 rpm. The engine is mated to the company’s 9G-Tronic automatic transmission, specifically adapted to meet the needs of off-roading. Key developments include a dedicated software application to reduce the shift and response times of the transmission.
The G-Class’s driving performance is augmented through the Dynamic Select system, which features five driving modes that adjust the characteristics of the engine, transmission, suspension, steering and assistance systems. The five drive modes include the conventional programs of "Comfort", "Sport", "Eco" and "Individual" with the addition of a new “G-Mode”.
The G-Class changes to "G-Mode" independently of the chosen driving mode as soon as one of the three differential locks has been activated or the low-range off-road reduction gear has been engaged.
This off-road mode adapts the adjustable damping of the chassis and the steering as well as the accelerator characteristic and avoids unnecessary gear shifts to ensure optimum control and off-road capability. A small "G" icon discreetly lights up in the instrument cluster.
The new G-Class is now fitted with electromechanical rack-and-pinion steering, which now allows driving assistance systems such as Parking Assist to be implemented. In addition, the electromechanical steering uses less energy than a hydraulically assisted steering system. Depending on the driving mode, one of three sets of steering characteristic lines, namely Comfort, Sport and Off-Road.
While the appearance may not look substantially different than the model that rolled out in 1979 –the G-Class is now 53 mm longer and 121 mm wider than the outgoing model. The body shell is now made of a variety of steel grades, while the wings, bonnet, and doors are made of aluminium. Aesthetically, the biggest differentiators are the inclusion of new LED headlamps at the front and rear.
Lighter raw materials were used in the G-Class’ construction comprising strong, high-strength, ultra-high-strength steels, and aluminium, as well as improved production processes at the Magna Steyr plant in Austria, has contributed to an overall weight reduction of 170 kg. However, torsional rigidity of the frame, body shell, and body mounts have been improved by around 55 percent (from 6,537 to 10,162 nm/deg).
A key benefactor of the G-Class’ bigger dimension is the added interior space – legroom the front and rear has been improved by 38 mm and 150 mm respectively. The rear seats can now be folded down to 60, 40 or 100 percent. The front seats are now equipped with contemporary comfort features such as memory function for the driver's seat, seat heating front, and rear, as well as luxury head restraints in the front. Comfort can be further improved with the Active Multicontour Seat Package.
By far the biggest difference of the new generation is its interior - the overall dashboard architecture follows in the nature of the new models, with retrospective elements such as the grab handle in front of the front passenger and the chrome-highlighted switches for the three differential locks.
As in the new E-Class, the instrument cluster is split between two large12.3-inch displays which make up the Widescreen Cockpit. Drivers can choose between three different styles for the displays – "Classic", "Sport" and "Progressive" – and also select relevant information and views according to their individual needs.
Drivers control the car’s infotainment functions via touchpad with a controller in the centre console without taking their eyes off the road. The input options are rounded off by shortcut keys in front of the controller for frequently used operating tasks, and by the optional control panel for the driving assistance systems above the rotary light switch. The construction and finish of the interior door panels have been vastly improved.
The G-Class is slated to hit showrooms in Europe starting June 2018, with an entry-level price of EUR 107,040 (price in Germany, including taxes).