Doppelganger looks but bigger now and packing better smarts - that’s the new G-Class, properly unveiled today.
EVEN after giving 40 years’ service, the doorhandles, external door hinges, exterior protective strip, exposed rear door-mounted spare wheel, unique indicator lights and surface-mounted bonnet have been re-purposed for a new lease of life.
Yet, even though the next-generation of the Mercedes-Benz G-Class looks very much like it’s long-lived predecessor, which ultimately dates back to 1979, the sheet metal has changed considerably; in dimension if not look. This one is 53mm longer and 121mm wider.
G-fans will also spot narrower, more precise panel gaps and that the wheelarches and bumpers are deeply integrated into the rest of the body, eliminating their previous add-on look.
Don’t get too hung up on the look; the message from Mercedes Benz at the overnight unveiling of the new G before it goes on show at the Detroit Motor Show is that the big changes are within. This something New Zealand fans will discover first hand from around the third quarter of this year, starting with the AMG63 edition, which is more bullish in appearance the standard wagon model that features in the official photos here.
While the G retains a ladder-frame chassis, three 100-per-cent differential locks and a low-range off-road reduction gear, it has an all-new independent suspension set-up comprising a double-wishbone front and rigid rear axles, with the former directly mounted on the ladder frame. Benz reckons this makes it a tidier on-road drive without in any way compromising that incredible off-road ability.
Ground clearance to the front axle gear is 270mm, while maximum wading depth is up 100mm, to 700mm, and departure and approach angles are up one degree, to 30 and 31 degrees respectively.
Five Dynamic Select driving modes are provided. These allow the driver to adjust engine, transmission, suspension, steering and assistance system settings, as well as the adaptive dampers. In addition to the Comfort, Sport, Eco and Individual settings that were meted the old model it picks up G-Mode – which overrides the chosen alternative driving mode when one of the three differential locks or the low-range off-road reduction gear has been activated.
The system adapts chassis damping, modifies steering, adjusts accelerator characteristics and avoids unnecessary gearshifts to enable optimum control and maximum off-road capability.
As mentioned on our test of the outgoing G63, the new model is around 170kg lighter. This comes from the use of ultra-high-strength steels for the body shell, and aluminium for the wings, bonnet and doors.
Though still a big boy – clocking at least two tonnes on the scales – the model is nonetheless lighter on its feet than the predecessor, Benz says. It also benefits from reduced noise, vibration and harshness (NVH) levels while improving driving dynamics and comfort.
The old recirculating ball steering has gone. It is now handled by an electromechanical rack-and-pinion system, which has allowed assistance features such as park assist to be added.
The variant pictured is the G500, which takes a 4.0-litre twin-turbocharged V8 petrol producing 310kW of power and 610Nm of torque from 2000rpm to 4750rpm, driving through a nine-speed auto, for a claimed 11.1 litres of fuel per 100 kilometres on the combined cycle test.
Benz here has indicated that this model is not likely to be seen here. The yet-to-be revealed Mercedes-AMG G63 has already been confirmed for local launch, with a diesel-powered edition likely to join it towards the end of this year.
The G63 is expected to have the same powerplant as the G500, but with outputs enhanced to 450kW/850Nm – identical to that from an E63 S.
Benz revealed the interior several weeks ago; it has undergone a significant redesign, with provision of more top-class luxury appointments than were provisioned the admittedly also lush previous cockpit.
The most obvious additions are dual 12.3-inch displays, dubbed Windscreen Cockpit, that project the digital instrument cluster and multimedia system in Classic, Sport or Progressive forms. This optional on the G500 but is very likely to be standard to the AMG.