An Icon Re-invented

The New Mercedes-Benz G-Class

Whether on or off the road and whatever the operating conditions, this off-road vehicle impresses with its performance, cutting-edge assistance systems, outstanding handling, and safety. At the same time, the new suspension, the DYNAMIC SELECT driving modes, the “G-Mode” and the three 100‑percent differential locks enhance not only ride comfort but also agility – on any surface.

“The new G-Class is setting the bar higher still in all relevant areas – in terms of performance both on and off the road as well as with regard to comfort and telematics. Our ‘longest-serving’ model series is therefore ideally equipped to continue its success story. In short, the new ‘G’ is still a ‘G’, only better,” stresses Ola Källenius, Member of the Board of Daimler AG responsible for Group Research and Mercedes-Benz Cars Development.

Working on the development of the new G-Class was extremely challenging for the team. “Enhancing an icon such as the G‑Class in technological terms was both a challenge and an opportunity at the same time. Each part and every bolt came under close scrutiny,” explains Dr Gunnar Güthenke, Head of the Off-Road Product Group at Mercedes-Benz. “With the body, our main focus was on increasing the vehicle rigidity and the connections between the suspension and drivetrain with the ladder-type frame.”

The G-Class, the luxury off-road vehicle from Mercedes-Benz, has long been considered a design icon. Its external appearance has not changed significantly since 1979. Iconic elements continue to serve very specific purposes and to give the G‑Class its unique appearance. All these are still found in the new G‑Class: 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 indicator lights. Extraordinary features like these combined with the off-roader’s angular lines define its special look.

The enhanced design of the G-Class follows the philosophy of Sensual Purity and at the same time remains true to the character of the original. As a result, the door hinges positioned on the outside and the surface-mounted bonnet are carried over to the new generation. The new G-Class is 53 mm longer and 121 mm wider and now has even greater presence, on the road as well as off-road.

More than ever, the new G-Class appears to be cast from a single piece. All surfaces have a more taut design and have more tension, while the surface quality has been taken to an even higher level. This results in narrower, more precise gaps and more harmonious transitions. In addition, the wheel arches and bumpers form a more integral part of the body and thus look less like add-on features.

While the exterior maintains the iconic classic look, the interior of the G-Class has undergone a fundamental modern redesign which reinterprets the genes of the classic vehicle to reflect the exterior. With its off-road character and luxury appointments, the G-Class has always combined two extremes. Unmistakable at first glance and from the first touch, only high-quality materials are used. Every detail is finished by hand with the utmost care.

Getting in the G-Class reveals that numerous design features from the exterior have been transposed into the interior. The shape of the round headlamps, for instance, is reflected in the side air vents. Or the design of the iconic indicators, found again in the shape of the loudspeakers. Hallmarks of the G‑Class include the grab handle in front of the front passenger and the chrome-highlighted switches for the three differential locks. Both have been meticulously optimised and retained as characteristic features.

The very clearly arranged and completely redesigned instrument panel features timeless tube-look analogue round dials as standard. In other words, fans of classic round instruments will not be disappointed in the new G‑Class. As in the new E-Class and S-Class, an instrument cluster in the form of a large display showing virtual instruments in the driver’s direct field of vision and a central display above the centre console is available as an option. In this case the two 12.3-inch displays blend visually into a Widescreen Cockpit beneath a shared glass cover.

The revised dimensions of the now larger G-Class benefit not only the driver and front passenger, but also the passengers in the second row. The rear seats can be folded down to 60, 40 or 100 percent. The seats in the G‑Class are equipped as standard with numerous convenience functions and are ergonomically designed, thus providing enhanced seating comfort and lateral support.

The new G-Class performs even better off-road, while on the road it is significantly more agile, dynamic and comfortable than its predecessor. The G thus remains a true G – thanks to its standard ladder-type frame, the three 100-percent differential locks and LOW RANGE off-road gear reduction.

The new suspension emerged from the collaboration between Mercedes-Benz G GmbH and Mercedes-AMG GmbH. The result is an independent suspension with double-wishbone front axle in combination with a rigid rear axle. As part of their work, the engineers had the task of fighting for every millimetre, because off-road capability not least also means maximum ground clearance. The raising of the axles makes a decisive contribution in this respect, while requiring a strut tower brace in the engine compartment to achieve the ruggedness objectives.

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 are positioned as high up as possible. This arrangement ensures good driveability beyond the asphalt. Specifically for the G-Class, the new front axle is designed in such a robust way that the off-road performance and off-road capabilities of its predecessor are maintained and even surpassed.

DYNAMIC SELECT is now available with up to five driving modes for the G‑Class. This allows adjusting the vehicle characteristics in seconds at the touch of a button, as the system modifies the characteristics of the engine, transmission, suspension, steering and assistance systems at the driver’s behest.

The four programs “Comfort”, “Sport”, “Eco” and “Individual” can be set conveniently via the DYNAMIC SELECT rocker switch. In “ECO” mode, a particularly fuel-optimized driving style is possible, for example. In “Sport” mode, on the other hand, the shift points of the automatic transmission, the throttle response of the engine, and the parameters of the electric steering system and the exhaust flap are changed. “Individual” allows drivers to configure their own preferred vehicle settings.

DYNAMIC SELECT provides a host of options in combination with the new suspension with optional Adaptive Damping System. The driver is then also able to modify the vehicle’s damping characteristics in Sport and Comfort modes using the DYNAMIC SELECT switch.

Put simply, the G-Class detects the particular condition of the road and sets the appropriate damping characteristics, so that the damping in terrain is stiffer, for example. In contrast, in Sport mode the G-Class boasts a more agile response when driving on the road.

One of the prerequisites for the improved off-road handling characteristics is the 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, avoids unnecessary gear shifts and thus ensures optimum control and maximum off-road capability. A small “G” icon discreetly lights up in the instrument cluster. The “G” swallows rough ground so easily that the driver is able to enjoy inch-perfect maneuvering even in the steepest terrain and receive excellent feedback on the traction capacity of the surface.

In the new G 500, a high-performance 4.0-litre V8 petrol engine ensures powerful propulsion. The new biturbo produces an output of 310 kW (422 hp) and a maximum torque of 610 Nm at 2000 to 4750 rpm.

For the transfer of power, the 9G‑TRONIC automatic transmission with torque converter was specifically adapted to meet the needs of the off-road icon. The developers have managed to reduce the shift and response times of the 9-speed transmission by means of a dedicated software application. The wide transmission ratio not only makes driving quieter and more comfortable especially at low engine speeds, it simultaneously also contributes to reducing fuel consumption.


The author is a certified motorhead and has been a journalist for the past 30 years. He will be a journalist all his life. He thinks he is famous and his mother agrees. His father has another opinion on that matter.
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