The New Mercedes-Benz G-Class

Mercedes-Benz has redefined the G-Wagen. On Sunday, it revealed the the 2019 G550 during the Detroit Auto Show. It’s the first all-new Geländewagen since the original debuted in 1979, and it promises to be the best one yet.

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.

While the exterior looks much the same as the big, boxy icon, it’s finally a remade vehicle with modern technology. It’s a retro-looking unapologetic car that actually works in the modern-tech world.

The G-Class retains ladder-frame construction and a solid rear axle, but for the first time, it’s getting independent front suspension. While hardcore off-roaders might scoff at the idea of the G-Class abandoning its solid front-axle, this setup should make this 4×4 much better on road, which is where a lot of G-Wagen spend their time.

Mercedes argues that embracing independent front suspension doesn’t hurt the G-Class off-road —on the contrary, the automaker says this G is better than ever. It still offers a permanent four-wheel drive system, but this time it sends 40 percent of its torque to the front axle with the remaining 60 going to the rear.

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. Traditional round instruments and a 12.3-inch navigation display are standard, although an optional wide-screen gauge display can be specified that features digital round instruments.

Heated front and rear seats, leather, three-zone automatic climate control, a glass-panel sunroof (a first for the G-Class), acoustic laminated side glass, and a Burmester audio system all make the standard-equipment list. The real victory in terms of the interior redesign is the arrival of dual cupholders front and rear, signaling the end of the line for the G-class’s quirky Nerf-basketball-net-like mesh front drink holder.

Arguably the most modern aspect of the outgoing G-Class was the G550’s twin-turbocharged 4.0-liter V8 that arrived for the 2016 model year. 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.

Dynamic Select is on hand to tailor engine, transmission, suspension, steering, and assistance systems to the task at hand. Adaptive damping is also an option; it allows for a “G-Mode” that promises improved off-road ability, and is activated automatically when the low-range gears are selected or one of the three differential locks is activated.

The colourful Daimler CEO was put on the spot by celebrity guest Arnold Schwarzenegger, when he gave the new 4×4 its world debut at the historic Michigan Theater in Detroit on the eve of the Detroit Motor Show.

The former Governor of California runs an electric G-Class created by Austrian company Kreisel Electric and pointedly asked Zetsche when Mercedes was going to make one. “I have one in LA, the first in the world, and it drives fantastically,” said Schwarzenegger. “So when are you going to do one?” Zetsche responded: “Last year we said we would electrify the whole Mercedes portfolio – so stay tuned.” The German company believes it can achieve this target by 2022.

At the time of market launch in June, the G-Class will be available at an entry-level price of €107,040.50 (price in Germany, incl. VAT) and thus remains at the level of the preceding version. The specification includes a host of new features such as the LED headlamps, the driving assistance systems, the high-quality interior with leather seats, and the new suspension. For demanding customers, options such as the Exclusive Interior Plus with leather on the interior door panels provides even more exclusivity.