Story & Photographs by Mercedes-Benz
The new Mercedes-Benz G-Class presents itself in top form. Whether on or off the road and whatever the operating conditions, the 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 will be celebrating its world premiere at the 2018 North American International Auto Show in Detroit, and will go on sale in the U.S. by late 2018.
"The new G-Class continues to set the bar higher 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 new G-Class is standard equipped with a host of new features such as LED headlamps, advanced driver assistance systems, a high-quality interior with leather seats and a new suspension. Additionally, options such as the Exclusive Interior Plus with diamond-stitched leather provide even more customization.
The G-Class, reinterpreted for today
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, now as then, and to give the G-Class its unique appearance. These features 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. Special features like these in conjunction with the off- roader's angular lines define its special distinctive 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. With the latest update, the off-road icon - which has received continuous technical enhancements over the decades but visually has hardly changed - is making the leap into a new era – both in terms of technology and form. The new G-Class is 2.1-in longer and 4.8-in wider and now has even greater presence on and 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 even more tension, while the surface quality has been taken to an even higher level, resulting in narrower, more precise gaps. In addition, the wheel arches and bumpers form a more integral part of the body.
Interior: authentic icon
While the exterior maintains its classic iconic look, the interior of the G-Class has undergone a fundamental redesign which reinterprets the genes of the classic vehicle to reflect the exterior. With its off-road character and world-class luxury appointments, the G-Class has always combined two extremes into a harmonious symbiosis. Every detail is hand-crafted with the utmost care, using only the finest high-quality materials.
Getting in the G-Class reveals that numerous design features from the exterior have been transposed into the interior. For instance, the shape of the round headlamps 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 seat and the chrome-highlighted switches for the three differential locks. Both have been meticulously optimized 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 certainly 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 digital instruments in the driver's direct field of vision and a central display above the center console is available as an option. In this case the two 12.3-inch displays blend visually into a Widescreen Cockpit beneath a fully bonded glass panel. 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.
Thanks to haptic impulses and audible feedback from the on-board speakers, drivers can use the touchpad with controller in the center 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 driver sits up close to the windscreen and enjoys good all-round visibility from behind the wheel.
More space for all
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. Key data at a glance:
DescriptionDifference (vs. previous gen)
Legroom in the front+1.5 in (38 mm)
Legroom in the rear+5.9 in (150 mm)
Shoulder room in front+1.5 in (38 mm)
Shoulder room in rear+1.1 in (27 mm)
Elbow room in front+2.7 in (68 mm)
Elbow room in rear+2.2 in (56 mm)
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. Features include the Memory function for the driver's seat, seat heating in the front and rear as well as luxury head restraints in the front. Ride comfort can be further enhanced with the optionally available Active Multicontour Seat Package. In addition to the special multicontour seats, this encompasses features such as various massage functions, climate-controlled seats and rapid seat heating. This variant also offers electrically adjustable lumbar supports for the driver and front passenger. The side sections of the seat cushions and backrests of the active multicontour seats include integrated air chambers that fill or empty continuously depending on the driving dynamics, thus providing better support for the seating positions of driver and front passenger and, for example, offering more lateral support during cornering. The front seats of the Active Multicontour Seat Package are recommended by experts from the German spinal health organization "Aktion Gesunder Rücken e.V."
Off-road: the legend surpasses itself
The primary goal of development was to redefine the quality of handling both on and off the road. This goal has been achieved: the new G-Class performs even better off-road, while on the road it is significantly more agile, dynamic and comfortable than its predecessor. Thanks to its standard ladder-type frame, the three 100-percent differential locks and LOW RANGE off-road gear reduction, the G remains a true G.
The new suspension emerged from the collaboration between Mercedes-Benz 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 inch and millimeter, because off-road capability requires 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 in Z-axis are positioned as high up as possible. This arrangement ensures good drivability 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 improved.
Equipped in this way and with a ground clearance of 10.6-in to the front axle gear, the G-Class provides plenty of potential for maximum assertiveness and driving pleasure in harsh terrain. The figures speak for themselves (below figures vs. previous gen):
- Slope climbing ability of up to 100% on suitable surfaces
- Ground clearance between axles now 9.5 inches (+ 6 mm)
- Maximum fording depth now 27.6 inches when driving through water and mud (+3.9 inches)
- Breakover angle of 26°, (+ 1°)
- Angle of departure: 30°, angle of approach: 31° (+ 1°)
- Break-over angle: 26°, (+ 1°)
Thanks to the independent suspension, it was possible to improve the rigidity of the body's front end. A strut tower brace, known as a suspension bridge, now connects the front strut towers, which increases the torsional rigidity of the ladder-type frame.
At the rear, in contrast to the predecessor, the new rigid axle is controlled by four trailing arms on each side and a Panhard rod. This makes normal driving on the road even more comfortable. In terrain, the rear spring jounce of 3.2-in and rebound of 5.6-in plus the ground clearance of 9.5-in to the rear axle gear help to ensure a safe ride even in extreme situations.
À la carte: "Comfort," "Sport," "Individual" or "Eco"
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. 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.
The new "G-Mode" paves the way where there is none
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" conquers 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.
On-road: agile, comfortable, superior
The specification for the G-Class not only included solidness and superiority in terrain, but also greater driving dynamics and comfort on paved roads. Thanks to the new front axle design, the on-road performance of the G-Class has therefore been enhanced at the same time. On the road, the "G" is as agile as it is comfortable and provides the driver with a better steering feel. The off-roader stays on track more solidly, and is agile and effortless when driving off-road.
Using a digital prototype, the developers simulated the service life of individual components and closed systems to find out in which places it would be possible to make use of lighter raw materials. The diet worked, as the G-Class has shed around 375 lbs. The recipe for success: a new mix of materials comprising strong, high- strength, ultra-high-strength steels and aluminum, as well as improved production processes at the Magna Steyr plant in Austria. The rigid body shell is now made of a variety of steel grades, while the fenders, hood and doors are made of aluminum.
To be able to retain the door hinges and handles typical of the G-Class, the developers modified these to suit the new aluminum design. The A- and B-pillars are made of high-strength steel due to their load-bearing function. However, less mass in no way translates into less stability – on the contrary, it was possible to increase the torsional rigidity of the frame, body shell and body mounts. Alongside improvements to the natural driving dynamics and comfort, this also results in enhanced quality in terms of noise levels, among other things, with the positive effect of significantly less noise and vibrations being noticeable in the interior when driving.
Powerful and efficient
In the new G 550 a high-performance 4.0-liter V8 gasoline engine ensures powerful propulsion. The new biturbo produces an output of 416 hp and a maximum torque of 450 lb-ft at 2,000 to 4,750 rpm, which is carried over from the previous model.
New automatic transmission on board
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.
As direct as possible, as indirect as necessary
As standard the 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, comes into effect. This ensures a comfortable or sporty steering feel on the road, but also straightforward and precise feedback in unpaved and demanding terrain - always paired with sufficient steering power assistance. In a nutshell: as direct as possible, as indirect as necessary.
Stronger than time
The G-Class is the top model among luxury off-road vehicles. It is not only the passenger car model series with the longest production run in the history of Mercedes-Benz by far, but also the forefather of all SUVs to bear the three-pointed star – this is why all Mercedes SUV models feature the upper-case G in their name.
What began in 1972 with a collaboration agreement between then Daimler-Benz AG and Steyr-Daimler-Puch in the Austrian city of Graz is now a story peppered with superlatives and significant milestones. The first concept to be developed was already different. The team designed a vehicle which impressed with superior off- road capability, while at the same time appealing to customers as a full-featured and safe vehicle suitable for recreational purposes. All-wheel drive and 100-percent differential locks have also been part of the "G" since that time, as has the robust ladder-type frame.
At the time of its market launch, in the spring of 1979, it was available with a choice of four engine variants covering a performance range from of
71 hp to 154 hp. Customers had the option of a Cabriolet with a short wheelbase or Station Wagon models with short or long wheelbase. In 1989 the vehicles of the model series 463 marked the beginning of an evolutionary process for the off- roader that was not just about keeping pace with technical progress. It was an evolution that also brought a steadily expanding fan base and emphasized its character as an exclusive vehicle for any occasion. And, since 1993, a vehicle with an official name: the G-Class.
The G-Class models used for the "Popemobile" are famous around the world. The off-road Mercedes-Benz 230 G painted in mother of pearl with a transparent special body accompanied Pope John Paul II on numerous journeys from 1980.
The 25th anniversary of the G-Class was marked by the arrival of a very special model on the market, honed by Mercedes-AMG: the G 55 AMG Kompressor. Its eight-cylinder power unit (469 hp, 516 lb-ft of torque) gave the robust off-roader an unprecedented level of performance and demonstrated the tremendous potential of the G-Class.
The G 550 4x42 of 2015 added not only a luxurious interior to the equation, but also a ground clearance of 17.7-in and impressive on-road performance. Since 2015, the designo manufaktur range has been providing customers with the option
Daimler Communications, 70546 Stuttgart, Germany Mercedes-Benz – A Daimler Brand
to take a G-Class and make it their own individual "G" – with exclusive equipment variants that are perfectly coordinated with each other.
The iconic G-Class reinvented itself once more in 2017 with the Mercedes- Maybach G 650 Landaulet (not available for U.S. market). With its superlative V12 engine, portal axles, electric fabric top and exclusive appointments in the rear compartment, this very special all-terrain vehicle, which is limited to 99 units, meets the expectations of customers who demand the very highest standards of their vehicle, offering arguably the most exclusive form of open-air driving pleasure.
The summer of 2017 saw the 300,000th G-Class roll off the assembly line in Graz – a European-spec Mercedes-Benz G 500 in designo Mauritius blue metallic with black leather seats and contrasting white topstitching. Equipped with a range of off-road features including all-terrain tires mounted on black 16-inch rims and a sturdy roof rack, the anniversary vehicle embarked this summer on new adventures. G-Class fans around the world determined the vehicle specification by voting for their favorite equipment and appointments on the official G-Class Facebook page. You can also follow the future road trips of the 300,000th G-Class on social networks.
The 2019 Mercedes-Benz G-Class will be celebrating its world premiere at the 2018 North American International Auto Show in Detroit, and will go on sale in the U.S. by late 2018.