G-Class Production Ending: Remembering the G

The original Mercedes Benz Geländewagen will be remembered for a number of reasons; retro looks (though are they really retro when they just haven’t changed that much over 39 years?) and supreme off-road performance are the standout traits. The little details like side pipes, dash-mounted grab handles and old-school thumps aren’t forgettable, nor is its vague steering and inability to track straight when doing anything near the state speed limits. A hard beast to tame, the mighty G-Wagen. It was even more difficult in AMG trim, what with the big numbers that come with these three letters, even in lowly G500 guise. It must be said the most memorable models generally sported bigger engines and produced some fairly astounding figures. For the purpose of this article, we will skip to the interesting stuff and not worry about the sensible end of the G-Class range, because put simply, that end isn’t what we will look back on.

Going back 16 years, the 2002 special edition G63 was the first in a series of moves some manufacturers would say is totally daft. It packed a 6.3L V12 with 438HP and managed 0-60 in a barely believable 5.9 seconds, and was a nice warm-up of what else was to come, and many will fondly remember the supercharged G55 with its frankly ridiculous circa-500HP, 5.4L V8 that’d be well served in an offshore racing boat let alone a trundling off-roader. The exhaust bellow and high-pitched whine from its supercharger could wake the dead and likely resulted in many cracked building foundations.

More recently, Mercedes-AMG conceded that some refinement was needed for the old girl, and introduced the 7G-Tronic 7-speed automatic to go behind its updated range of heavy hitters. The 5.5L, twin-turbo V8 with its 563HP but memorable 561lb-ft of torque could take the G63 from 0-60 in 5.4 seconds, which would be enough for most people but for the fact Mercedes Benz saw fit to again make a V12 flagship available. The AMG G65 used a 6.0L twin-turbo V12 with startling results. 621HP is impressive, but everybody remembers the feeling of 738lb-ft squeezing you into your seat as 5,700lb of G-Wagen hurtles towards the horizon, doing the 0-60 sprint in 5.2 seconds. Stump pulling? More like mountain pulling. That torque figure is 1,000Nm, a magic figure seldom seen even in today’s turbo-dominated world.

The G-Class was so much more than a straight-line thug or big-city bruiser. It remains, right up until production finishes, one of the most capable off-road machines available, but yet again the people at Mercedes saw even more potential and offered the unique and almost-unstoppable G500 4×42. For sale since 2015, the 4×42 came equipped with unique portal axles to afford 18 inches of ground clearance, which contributed to its impressive 7’9 height which, coupled to its 7-odd foot width, lent somewhat to its name.

Production of the 4×42 is now finished, and Mercedes Benz have not yet confirmed, nor ruled out, building another hardcore off-roader. There’s less need for it given the improvements the 2019 W464 has over its older forebear for off-road ability. That he W464 is going to be much better on the road too surely shouts that the decades old 463 G-Wagen was on its last legs and, while it will be missed, only those wearing rose-tinted glasses will say the original could never be improved on. Mercedes Benz has had 39 years of experience and knowledge to put into the new model after all.

If you are wearing those aforementioned glasses, best get to your Mercedes dealer quick, because order books will be closing imminently, if they’re not already. The Geländewagen is dead. Long live the Geländewagen!

 


Written by Alex Burchell

Mercedes GLB: Will There Be a Baby G-class?

Long rumoured for production, the so-called baby G-Class looks set to make a motor show debut in the coming months. The Mercedes Benz GLB-Class, while seen to have a similar squared-off, bulky appearance like that of the famed G-Class, will almost certainly be based on the new A-Class platform to be released in the next 12 months. Positioned between the GLA and GLC SUVs, the GLB will offer a genuine point of difference with its styling alone, and even if it cannibalises a few sales from its smaller and bigger siblings, many more buyers are going to be attracted to it if they dreamt of owning a G-Class but just couldn’t get past the price tag or the acreage required to park it.

The GLB’s A-Class underpinnings unfortunately mean no bonkers V8-powered models won’t be happening, what with its front-wheel-drive underpinnings (could you imagine a small SUV with the 620HP V12?!), but any motoring enthusiast worth his salt knows A-Class architecture means a GLB45 model is almost certainly in the wings, and a butch little SUV with something like 50-400HP is hardly anything to sneeze at.

The GLB-Class will of course have more sensible four-cylinder engine choices as well, and inside that boxy shape will be room enough for three rows of seating for a specific model with a stretched body, though as yet how it’ll be configured is not yet mentioned (but you can safely assume seven seats).

The styling looks like it’ll be a nice departure from the industry’s current trend of making every model in a brand’s range look exactly the same, just scaled up or down. It’ll give customers a chance to recognise their car as a GLB, a unique proposition in the Mercedes universe given every GL, CL and sedan model is a caricature of itself. In spite of the looks being a homage to the fabled Geländewagen, it’s safe to say the off-road ability will likely be limited to forest trails and gravel tracks, in the same vein as most soft roaders with a little more ground clearance and knobblier tires than their hatchback cousins.

Expect switchable four-wheel-drive to be available, and possibly some sort of crawl function, but the potential customers are not going to be interested in stats like maximum wading depth and ramp-over angles. However, to help the GLB on the rare occasions it is off the tarmac, it’s expected that an off-road package will also be available with bolder and chunkier bumpers, to better protect the body from any mishaps, but image is as much about ability in this corner of the car market.


Written by Alex Burchell

2019 Mercedes G-class Tamed with New Suspension

It’s fair to say way back in the 1970s, when Mercedes engineers were developing a vehicle to be used by the German military and agricultural workers, next to no consideration was given for how such a vehicle might drive on-road in fairly easy, potentially fast, conditions. Of course everyone is well aware of the recent success of the G-Class concerning its popularity among society’s elite, especially the extremely potent AMG models, but it simply doesn’t drive as well as it should. Capable off-road it may be, and still clearly is, the G-Class needed some proper attention on key areas like ride and handling.

Welcome, then, the new Mercedes W464 Geländewagen. At first glance it may look like a small evolution of the 39-year-old original, but dig deeper and you’ll find no end of changes and enhancements to finally give the G-Class a chance to behave better on the tarmac, while still keeping that famed ability off it. It sounds impossible to make a car already great off-road even better if it’s meant to have a focus on-road, but Mercedes’ engineers have managed it and more. A body almost 50% more rigid than the outgoing model, on a frame that is some 34% stiffer, goes a long way to making any car better. Wider tracks afford better stability and independent front suspension replaces the old model’s live axle setup, with no detriment to its off-road prowess but offering such a vast improvement in its on-road manners you’ll scarcely believe it is still a G-Wagen.

Despite a somewhat greater focus on tarmac talent, every measurable off-road parameter has been improved on; approach, departure and breakover angles see increases of 1 degree, suspension travel is greater, and the tilt angle is up at 35 degrees. This isn’t some tryhard Cayenne or X5 competitor, but a machine that still carries the coveted Schöckl badge; a nod to the mountain near the Graz, Austria manufacturing plant where every G-Class model is tested prior to production. The new model handles it with ease.

What else under the skin has been developed? The steering is probably what most drivers will notice, especially if they go back-to-back with the 463 G-Wagen. Gone is the old-hat, wandering-about recirculating ball, replaced by a rack-and-pinion setup with electro-mechanical assistance. It should mean driving on the highway, or suburban streets, will be as easy as driving one of Mercedes’ luxury sedans. No manual gearbox will be offered, instead the company’s latest 9G-Tronic nine-speed auto will do the shifting. Three locking diffs, low range and a selection of both diesel and gasoline engines will ensure progress is made as easily as only the big G can make it, be it through the serenity of nature or the chaos of downtown, where it will most likely be, if we’re being honest. AMG models like the G500 and G63 will almost certainly get the 4.0L, twin-turbo V8 seen in various flavors from the C63 to the GT sports coupe. With circa-500HP and a slight weight reduction of around 350lb from the previous model, performance should be reasonably sprightly then.

So, with something like 300,000 G-Wagens already having been produced, and lauded for close to 40 years, expectations are very high for the W464. With a debut slated for the Detroit Motor Show this month, we’ll find out soon how it stacks up, on paper at least, with the much-loved original.

 


Written by Alex Burchell

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Mercedes-Benz AMG G63 with 22″ AGL50 (duoblock)

Check out this Mercedes G-class with 22″ wheels and 33 x 12.5 R22 Nitto Trail Grapplers on Avant Garde wheels.

 

Shop: MC Custom

Vehicle: Mercedes-Benz AMG G63

Design: AGL50 (duoblock)

Size: 22×10.5

Finish: Matte Black w/ Chrome (exposed) hardware

Mercedes G-Code Concept

Concept cars are nothing new, as they provide as blank a canvas as any automotive designer can expect to work with. Next to no considerations for engineering in powertrains, no consumer surveys to consider, just the chance to draw, style, and create a car to be admired, inspired by and, potentially, produced, in some altered form perhaps, in the future.

Mercedes Benz has a studio in Beijing, China. It’s hardly out of the ordinary given how massive the Chinese market is, and any manufacturer with business sense will realise how important China is to a company’s bottom line. What might surprise is just what the new Product Engineering Centre has come up with; the G-Code is a beautiful, sleek, yet very compact urban-oriented SUV aimed squarely at the big, congested cities of Asia. At some 161 inches long, it’s shorter than even a VW Golf, though its 74-inch width makes it a bit wider. Of more interest is that it is considerably smaller than Mercedes’ GLA mini-SUV, a surefire sign to suggest it plans on tackling the products of other companies following the trend of moving away from the monstrous juggernauts of today. Think Mini Countryman and you’re getting the picture.

Don’t pay much mind to the 21-inch wheels, as ridiculously big wheels are a concept car’s signature. They do suit the G-Code, however, lending it an incredibly muscular stance with those bulging arches and the very wide track. Three years after the concept car’s unveiling, it still looks fresh and contemporary, so much so your writer had to double check it wasn’t simply announced for 2018. A 2+2 seating arrangement is pretty typical but it does lend itself to being a reasonably practical city runabout, should production come to fruition. There aren’t any wing mirrors either, instead two cameras on retractable arms in the A-pillars hide away to accentuate the sleek look highlighted further by the lack of any B-pillars.

Hybrid technology features heavily on the concept, and the powerplant is claimed to be a development of the hydrogen-electric system that will be used in the B-Class. To showcase the tech, behind the classic three-pointed star grille is an LED lightshow that announces proudly what mode the G-Code is in. A pulsing blue indicates the car is parked or in all-electric mode, in Hybrid eco mode they are purple, and in Hybrid sport mode the LEDs are red. It’s doubtful this particular feature will make it to production, in any future Mercedes product, but then again concept cars are not necessarily about realistic expectations. It does however highlight the focus Mercedes, and the industry in general, has on reducing emissions and fuel consumption and the continued drive towards greater hybridisation and alternative fuels.

Possibly the most interesting thing to note is the “multi-voltaic” paint, which effectively makes the G-Code a big solar panel. The paint can absorb energy from sunlight and replenish the power supply, and a special coating that can allegedly be charged electrostatically by wind when the car is stationary. While we aren’t quite there yet with such futuristic tech, it’s nice to know designers and engineers alike are still thinking of unique and clever ways to efficiently and effectively power vehicles in the future.

 


Written by Alex Burchell