Mercedes reveals new G-Class
You're looking at the new Mercedes G-Class, the biggest mechanical and technical upgrade for the car formerly known as the Geländewagen, or G-Wagen, originally produced in 1979 as a vehicle for the German military. Since then, the G-Wagen, now the G-Class, has gone on to become an iconic, if still rather crude under the skin, luxury SUV for Mercedes.
Items such as exterior-mounted door hinges and the big, squared-off bonnet remain, but those round headlights are now LED units, and there have been some significant physical changes too including a 53mm growth in length, and a 21mm increase in width.
Inside, it is utterly different. Some touches of the classic upright-and-rugged cabin remain, but now there's a massive digital infotainment screen sitting proud of the dash and all-digital instruments in front of the driver. Both screens are a full 12.3 inches across, almost dwarfing the iconic passenger grab handle.
The cabin as a whole is now much bigger than before (small cabins were always a bugbear of the original G) and rear legroom has increased by a huge 150mm. There's also a 34mm increase in front legroom, 28mm more shoulder room and 68mm more elbow room.
The heated electric seats get a driver's side memory function, while there's the option of an active multi-contour seat pack with massage and climate functions.
Thankfully, for all this extra luxury, the Big G hasn't lost sight of its primary function in life - being amazing off-road. New it may be, but it keeps ladder-frame chassis construction, three locking differentials and low-range gears for seriously rough terrain.
Suspension is now fully-independent at the front, with double-wishbones, while the rear has a more traditional solid beam axle. Everything's been packaged around giving the car a maximum possible ride height, which now stands at 270mm. The maximum wading depth is also increased, by 40mm to 700mm, while it has a 30-degree approach angle, a 26-degree break-over angle and a 31-degree departure angle. These are all serious off-road numbers, and remember that this is the basic version. Mercedes has more extreme off-roading options in mind for later...
As with most other Mercedes models, the G-Class gets the usual Dynamic Select function, which allows owners to choose from Comfort, Sport, Eco and Individual modes. But there's another, special, G-Mode that kicks in if you activate a differential lock or select low-range gears. G-Mode softens off the dampers, slows down the steering a little and modulates the throttle and gearbox responses to make it even easier to tackle serious terrain.
When you're not up to your ankles in mud, the G-Class should be a little more responsive on-road, as it's shed around 170kg in weight compared to the old model, and the body and frame are around 55 per cent stiffer.
For the moment, the only engine option will be the G 500 turbo V8 petrol, with 422hp, 610Nm of torque, fuel consumption of 11.1 litres/100km (25.4mpg) and CO2 emissions of 263g/km. That drives all four wheels (of course) through the nine-speed 9G-Tronic automatic gearbox. It won't be the only engine option for long - AMG V8 and V12 models, and a diesel version using the new straight-six engine from the S-Class are all planned.
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