All all-new version of iconic Mercedes-Benz G-Class 4x4 is just around the corner, arriving as only the second generation G-Class from a lineage that stretches back to 1979. We can reveal exclusive details of the new car ahead of its debut at the 2019 Detroit motor show.
Initially devised as a sparse but capable off roader designed for rural and military use, the G-Class has morphed into a symbol of urban excess as buyers embrace more prestigious versions of the upright 4x4.
The second generation car will make its public debut at the 2018 Detroit motor show in January ahead of an Australian arrival during the second-half of the year. The 2018 model year G-class has undergone a complete redesign which includes aluminium construction to drop 160kg of weight and improve torsional rigidity by 30 percent compared to the original.
The new underpinnings also allow a wider chassis, new front suspension with adjustable damping, and the provision for new electric architecture supporting a widened range of driver assistance systems.
The interior has been made more spacious and adds contemporary infotainment and communication features among a long list of developments which, insiders say, will secure the future of the G-class well into second half of the next decade.
Though the new model will retain the iconic upright styling, the new model is also set to be more user-friendly on-road and will be available with the latest generation of Mercedes-Benz engines including AMG’s turbocharged 4.0-litre V8 petrol unit and Mercedes-Benz’s new turbocharged 2.9-litre in-line six-cylinder diesel engine, in combination with a new nine-speed automatic gearbox.
However, a decision to retain off-road features, including low range gearing and three differential locks across the line-up, is aimed at ensuring the new model gives away none of its ability away from the bitumen.
Design wise, the G-Class holds true to the appearance of today’s 38-year-old model with a boxy appearance that, despite a 20mm increase in overall width, is claimed to boast the same 0.54 co-efficient of drag as today’s model.
The traditional styling aims to provide maximum off-road functionality; TMR has been told the nominal fording depth of the new model has increased by up to 100mm, while the incline, ramp and slope angles are all said to have been improved, if only marginally, over the outgoing model.
Although early reports suggested it was in line to adopt monocoque construction, TMR can confirm the new G-Class will be built atop a new ladder frame chassis engineered to provide greater levels of crash integrity, improvements in on-road refinement and, in combination with the new aluminium body structure, a significantly lower weight.
Inside, a new interior is claimed to have led to significant improvements in accommodation; one source revealed the G-Class’s rear seat legroom has increased by as much as 150mm in standard wheelbase guise. The increase in width has also liberated greater shoulder room both front and rear, giving the new model what one insider describes as a whole new ambiance.
Luggage capacity is also said to have benefited from the increase in width, extending beyond the nominal 487-litres offered by the outgoing model.
The move to a new electronics architecture sees the G-Class equipped with digital instrument and infotainment displays similar to those found in the E-Class.
Meanwhile, the more contemporary electronics architecture also supports a raft of further innovations to the heavily reworked version of Mercedes-Benz’s original off-roader. Included are many of the assistant systems found on the latest E-Class, including Attention Assist, Active Lane Keeping Assist and the latest generation of the German car maker’s Pre-Safe system as standard equipment.
The new G-Class will be sold from the outset with an AMG-developed turbocharged 4.0-litre V8 petrol engine in two different states of tune.
In ‘M176’ guise in the G500, the 90-degree unit is set to be tuned to deliver 310kW and 610Nm of torque. It also receives a cylinder deactivation device that sees it run on four-cylinders under part throttle loads in city driving conditions.
In more highly tuned M177 guise in the G63, the turbocharged 4.0-litre V8 is set to punch out 450kW and 850Nm of torque as a replacement for the outgoing G63’s turbocharged 5.5-litre V8, which delivers 420kW and 760Nm.
The new engines are combined with Mercedes-Benz’s latest nine-speed 9G-Tronic torque converter equipped automatic gearbox together with a heavy duty four-wheel drive system with three differential locks and low range gearing for added ability in tough off-road conditions.
Also planned to join the line-up later in 2018 is a G400d model running Mercedes-Benz’s new turbocharged 2.9-litre inline six-cylinder diesel engine. In the recently facelifted S400d it develops 250kW and 700Nm of torque.
Other engines, including Mercedes-Benz's new turbocharged 3.0-litre inline six-cylinder petrol unit in combination with an integrated starter generator providing mild hybrid qualities, is also set to follow.
Underpinning the new G-Class is a thoroughly new suspension system. It adopts a new independent front end as well as heavily revised geometry at the rear, both offering added levels of wheel travel and axle articulation over the old model.
In a move that is claimed to provide next year’s model with added comfort, it also receives adaptive damping control.
A further significant development is the adoption of a brand new steering system; the ancient recirculating ball system which dates all the way back to original G-Wagen launched in 1979 has been replaced by a contemporary electro-mechanical rack and pinion arrangement that is not only claimed to bring added levels of precision but, in combination with the new front suspension, a reduction in the 13.5 metre turning circle of today’s G-Class.