After 33 years the Mercedes-Benz G-Class once again has fresh momentum behind it, as the sales figures for this most enduring of luxury off-roaders go to show. Between 2009 and 2001 sales rose by more than 50 percent. A comprehensive facelift is now set to make this classic among cross-country vehicles an even more attractive proposition. With a new and luxurious interior, some discreet modifications to the exterior, new safety features, a new infotainment system and, in some cases, new engines, Mercedes-Benz has upgraded the award-winning G-Class even further in a continuation of its remarkable evolution.
The Mercedes-Benz G-Class was originally conceived as a vehicle for use primarily in tough, off-road terrain; and this was the way it was launched, back in 1979. Over the course of its long years of production, the specification has been regularly modified to reflect the requirements of its customers - but the essential character of the G-Class remains unchanged.
Over the years, state-of-the-art electronics have been applied to improving its already outstanding off-road capability still further. At the same time Mercedes-Benz has continued to work on bringing the interior appointments and road-going qualities up to the same high standard as for the premium saloons emanating from Stuttgart. Its outstanding performance in tough terrain, its ability as a towing vehicle and its luxurious look and feel have all added up to ensure that the Mercedes-Benz G-Class is still going strong after what is now a third of a century. Even today, this classic model is still considered one of the best cross-country vehicles around and has only recently once again been voted "Off-roader of the year" - after 33 years on the market.
Dr Dieter Zetsche, Chairman of the Board of Management of Daimler AG and Head of Mercedes-Benz Cars: "Our G-Class has been a force to be reckoned with for the last 33 years. In its latest evolutionary stage, it offers state-of-the-art, powerful engines, a further improved range of luxurious appointments and the very latest safety features, as well, of course, as its now legendary off-road capabilities. At the same time the design remains true to its down-to-earth, unmistakable style."
Even safer and more luxurious - the G-Class is largely hand-built in Graz, Austria.
The most important new interior features of the 2012 facelift include:
In order to ensure that the Mercedes-Benz G-Class loses none of its character, certain very typical features of the interior have been retained:
The outstanding functionality, reliability, quality and high-class style remain unchanged.
Five engine variants
The "G" family currently comprises two body variants - the four-door long-wheelbase Station Wagon and the G 500 as a Cabriolet with short wheelbase.
The entry-level model for the long-wheelbase Station Wagon is the G 350 BlueTEC with 6-cylinder diesel engine and a displacement of 2987 cc. This four-cylinder unit has an output of 155 kW (211 hp) at 3400 rpm and produces torque of 540 Newton metres over a speed range of 1600 to 2400 rpm. The BlueTEC technology developed by Mercedes-Benz is used to minimise the engine's emissions, particularly of nitrogen oxide (NOx). The G 350 BlueTEC uses AdBlueÂ®, an aqueous urea solution, which is injected into the exhaust-gas stream. This process releases ammonia, which converts up to 80 percent of the nitrogen oxides into harmless nitrogen and water by a process of reduction in the downstream SCR catalytic converter. Since the Mercedes-Benz G-Class is often used in remote areas of the world, as indeed it was designed to do, the engineers have made things even simpler by integrating the AdBlueÂ® filler cap into the vehicle's filler neck compartment, accessible from the outside. One full tank of AdBlueÂ® is good for around 12,000 kilometres.
The alternative to the diesel engine is the G 500, with its powerful 5.5-litre V8 petrol engine. This has an output of 285 kW (387 hp) and offers excellent torque of 530 Newton metres. The same engine also ensures that the G 500 Cabriolet has generous reserves of power to deal with any situation.
New to the range are the G63 AMG and G65 AMG models, with which the performance brand of Mercedes-Benz meets the desire for yet more power. To this end, AMG has fitted the four-door long-wheelbase Station Wagon of the G63 AMG with a biturbo V8 engine, with an output of 400 kW (544 hp) and impressive maximum torque of 760 Newton metres. This powerful AMG V8 engine is fitted as standard with the ECO start/stop function, which is an extremely effective way of helping the driver to reduce fuel consumption
The new top-of-the-range model from now on is the G65 AMG, meeting the requirement for a 12-cylinder engine in the G-Class. Its performance figures are correspondingly impressive: 450 kW (612 hp) and 1000 Newton metres are there for the taking. The G65 AMG is thus the most powerful series-production off-roader in the world.
Automatic transmission for lower consumption and more fun at the wheel
The G 350 and G 500 come with the 7G-TRONIC PLUS automatic transmission as standard. Now in its sixth generation, the multi-ratio automatic transmission was developed by Mercedes-Benz and has been produced since 1960. The new version has been thoroughly revised to optimise consumption and comfort compared with its predecessor. The new generation of the torque converter provides an improved dynamic response and reduced noise and vibration levels thanks to a new hydraulic circuit, as well as enhanced dampers and an optimised torque converter housing. The extreme wheel-slip reduction of the torque converter housing, combined with
Compared with the previous transmission, this enhances the ease of shifting and reduces fuel consumption, quite apart from adding driving enjoyment. The improved longevity of the new oil also means that oil change intervals have extended from 50,000 (old) to 125,000 kilometres (new).
The AMG SPEEDSHIFT PLUS seven-speed automatic used in the AMG models provides more than adequate power transmission. Its most important characteristics: three transmission modes, an automatic double-declutching function and defined ignition and injection retardations to ensure shorter shift times when changing up at full load.
Technical superiority off-road
The technical qualities of the Mercedes-Benz G-Class are highly prized. The tremendous torque of its engines makes the luxury off-roader an excellent vehicle for towing, while three electrically controlled 100-percent differential locks that can be activated while the vehicle is moving in low gear mode, a reduction gear and rigid axle are characteristics that make it an unrivalled proposition in rough, off-road terrain.
Fundamental to the vehicle's capability in even the toughest terrain is its dip-primed and power-coated ladder frame, made out of sheet steel up to four millimetres thick, with solid longitudinal sections and cross-members. This design is considerably more robust and thus better suited for off-road use than an integral body construction. The strong ladder frame not only has the stability to deal with torsional forces but also forms the lowest point of the structure, so protecting the major assembly, fuel tank and exhaust system from surface contact, for example when the vehicle is negotiating obstacles.
Suspension ensures maximum off-road capability
The suspension of the Mercedes-Benz G-Class is also specially designed for driving in challenging terrain. The key factors here are its high ground clearance and long shock course for the springs. Together they provide the basis for the excellent off-road capability of the G-Class. The figures:
Mechanical and electronic systems work hand in hand
The Mercedes-Benz G-Class is the only off-road vehicle to combine the electronic traction system 4ETS with a transfer case and three 100% differential locks, so allowing the following systems to move the vehicle forward safely and reliably:
the permanent all-wheel drive is designed for maximum traction and distributes the power to the front and rear axles in the ratio 50:50
the electronic traction system 4ETS guides the driving power to the wheels with the best traction, so making it much easier to negotiate snow and ice-covered roads as well as demanding off-road routes
the three 100% differential locks apply the driving power precisely where the best traction is available. They can be switched on individually while the vehicle is moving. Only one wheel needs to find grip in order to move the vehicle forward
the low-range ratio helps to ensure maximum traction on difficult surfaces, for example in mud or on sand. It can be engaged at speeds of up to 40 km/h in transmission mode N, using the Low Range switch.
The latest safety features
The new generation of the G-Class also offers a range of exemplary safety features. For example, the luxury off-roader features a completely reconfigured ESPÂ® with an automatic control system that includes start-off assist and a HOLD function, both for easier hill starts. And in an emergency braking situation, when the driver suddenly releases the accelerator and hits the brake pedal, the brake system increases the pressure in the brake lines, so applying the brake pads to the disks. This ensures maximum effect as soon as the brake is applied. This "pre-filling" function supports the Brake Assist system that is already fitted as standard.
Also new in the G-Class are two radar-based systems: Blind Spot Assist and the adaptive cruise control system DISTRONIC PLUS.
DISTRONIC PLUS adjusts the distance to the vehicle in front automatically. If necessary, it can apply the brakes to bring the off-roader to a stop, and then accelerate again. This takes some of the strain off the driver, particularly in bumper-to-bumper driving conditions. If the distance starts to narrow too quickly, the system gives visual and acoustic warnings, thereby prompting the driver to take action, at which point Brake Assist (BAS) also intervenes to help.
Blind Spot Assist issues a warning if it identifies the presence of a vehicle where it can only be seen with difficulty, in other words in the driver's "blind spot". The warning takes the form of an acoustic alert and of a signal in the relevant exterior mirror.
For customers ordering the optional trailer coupling, the ESPÂ® system includes a trailer stabilisation feature that acts to nip any threat of sinusoidal oscillation, or 'fishtailing', on the part of the trailer in the bud, so making driving with a trailer far safer. This additional ESPÂ® function detects the trailer as soon as the electric connector plug is inserted in the socket on the towing vehicle. The ESPÂ® trailer stabilisation system makes use of the ESPÂ® sensors to enable it to counteract any fishtailing of the trailer at speeds higher than 65 km/h by alternating brake application to the left and right front wheels. This is generally sufficient to eliminate the problem and prevent any further risk. In very severe cases of fishtailing oscillation, the engine torque is also reduced and the towing vehicle is braked on all four wheels, in order to bring the vehicle back to within a safe speed range as quickly as possible.
A useful aid to parking is provided by the PARKTRONIC system, which now monitors the area both to the front and to the rear of the vehicle. In the Mercedes-Benz G-Class, this can be combined with a reversing camera, so improving both visibility and safety when reversing.
The G-Class for professionals
In addition to the luxury versions of its Mercedes-Benz G-Class off-roader, Mercedes-Benz also offers the G-Class Professional model. This somewhat stripped-out, more practically-oriented version focuses on the robustness and reliability of the G-Class. It has been specifically created for extreme operations in rugged terrain and, as such, is eminently suitable for use by rescue services, for example. There are of course also private individuals who opt for the classic model for extreme off-road and expedition use.
Design: New interior for this true character
The exterior of the Mercedes-Benz G-Class has changed little since 1979. It retains the timeless design that has made it a trendsetter in the off-road vehicle segment. This luxury off-roader from Mercedes-Benz has long been considered a design icon. So, even with this latest facelift, there seemed little need to make major changes.
Instead, a little subtle upgrading of the exterior design has brought the G-Class into line with the current state of the art. The upgrading includes new exterior mirrors with integrated directional indicators and front area lighting, painted in the vehicle colour. The warning signal for the optionally available new Blind Spot Assist system is also integrated here. A memory function allows up to three drivers to store their personal settings for the electrically folding mirrors.
Also new are the LED daytime running lamps located underneath the round headlamps in the headlamp unit and the optional 18-inch bi-colour light-alloy wheels.
Generally speaking, the exterior design of the G-Class serves to underline its robustness, sense of purpose and outstanding off-road capability. The side view is characterised by its clear lines and broad, flat surfaces. The side skirts, beltline and roof edge are aligned in parallel. Similarly severe and functional in its horizontal alignment is the rub strip at door-handle height. Two large windows in the rear are a further characteristic of the long-wheelbase Station Wagon.
Characteristic features of the front of the vehicle are, above all, its distinctive three-louvre radiator grille featuring a central three-pointed star, the steeply raked A-pillars and the upright windscreen. The round headlamps feature state-of-the-art bi-xenon technology, while the oval fog lamps integrated into the front bumper incorporate the cornering light function.
With its broad track and distinctive wheel arch lining, the G-Class displays a very solid stance when seen from the rear. The rear fog lamp and reversing lamp are integrated into the rear bumper. Access to the load compartment is via a large rear door, hinged on the left, which carries a spare wheel prominently mounted on the outside.
The G 500 runs as standard on 18-inch 5-spoke light-alloy wheels (265/60 R18 on 7.5 J x 18 ET63). The standard specification of the G 350 BlueTEC includes 16-inch 5-spoke light-alloy wheels (265/70 R16 on 7.5 J x 16 ET63).
New options for the exterior of the Mercedes-Benz G-Class include the colours magnetite black, tenorite grey and indium grey. All in all, the paint range comprises 21 colours, of which 18 metallic and eight designo shades.
Interior - with added luxury and comfort
A low window line and the raised seat position have always ensured exceptional all-round visibility in the G-Class - an advantage not only in awkward terrain. The fundamental off-road character of the vehicle forms a successful symbiosis with the high-grade luxury appointments. Just a glance - and a touch - are enough to recognise that only the finest materials have been used here. Every single detail is a fine example of meticulous handcraftsmanship.
Mercedes-Benz has now enhanced this high aesthetic standard still further with the introduction of a redesigned dashboard with a new instrument cluster and a completely new centre console with centre dome. Many of the characteristic elements in the interior have, however, been retained. These include the grab handle for the front passenger, the switches for the three differential locks, which are clearly positioned in the driver's field of view and highlighted in chrome trim, and a redesigned selector lever in the centre console. When it's dark, ambient lighting helps to create a stylish atmosphere.
The cockpit is well laid out and functional in structure. The dashboard incorporates an instrument cluster with two sporty round dials plus, in the middle, a multifunction TFT display with a screen diagonal of 11.4 cm, which shows information from the on-board computer relating to the assistance systems.
The driver sits behind a new, electrically adjustable 4-spoke multifunction steering wheel with a rim trimmed in nappa leather and twelve function buttons. The steering wheel can be adjusted electrically and pivots automatically upwards in order to make getting in and out of the vehicle easier.
The centre dome, with vent openings in the middle and a free-standing central display, is slightly convex in shape and tapers away towards the base. Thematically grouped clusters of controls, with flawlessly designed and yet extremely functional switches, are intuitive to use. The COMAND Online system is controlled via the COMAND Controller on the front of the armrest.
The switches for the three differential locks have a high-quality chrome finish. The various controls are similarly new and high-quality in design.
The stylish detailing of the vehicle includes the generous use of high-quality trim. The G 350 BlueTEC is fitted as standard with anthracite poplar wood trim, while the G 350 features burr walnut wood trim (also available as an option for the G 350 BlueTEC). Optional alternatives include designo black piano lacquer, champagne white and light brown poplar silk matte trim (standard on the G63 AMG and G65 AMG), as well as AMG carbon-fibre trim including a designo wood/leather steering wheel with a designo black piano lacquer finish.
Seats with long-distance comfort
The seats in the G-Class are equipped, even in the standard specification, with numerous convenience functions. These include, for example, a memory function for the driver's seat, seat heating front and rear, and NECK-PRO high-comfort head restraints on the front seats. The seats also include electric lumbar support for both driver and front passenger, making them particularly comfortable on long journeys. Such ride comfort may be further enhanced with the addition of the optional Seat Comfort package, comprising multicontour and climatised seats.
In the standard-spec G 350 BlueTEC model, passengers take their places on high-quality, black, cloth-upholstered seats. Leather seats in grey, black and chestnut are available for the G 500 (also available as an option for the G 350 BlueTEC). The G63 AMG in the standard version offers a choice of eight colours of designo leather, including for the ruffled leather door centre panels (also as an option for the G 500 and the G 350 BlueTEC). The G65 AMG comes as standard with a designo Exclusive package that includes sports seats in two-tone design leather (choice of six colours) with diamond-patterned quilting for the seats and door panelling - this package is also available as an optional extra for the G63 AMG.
State-of-the-art infotainment with internet access
A visual as well as functional highlight that is fitted as standard in all versions of the G-Class is the new COMAND Online "Cockpit Management and Data System" with internet access and 6-disc DVD changer. This is a car radio and a CD/DVD player in one. Bluetooth telephony and simplified car telephone operation are included in the scope of this system. The free-standing, highâ€‘resolution TFT colour display with a screen diagonal of 17.8 cm (800 x 480 pixels) is positioned above the centre dome. Positioning the monitor here minimises the extent to which the driver is distracted.
COMAND Online is operated via what is known as a "Controller", located just in front of the armrest on the centre console. This is the optimum ergonomic position for it, allowing easy and safe operation. The Controller is a very high-quality rotary pushbutton with a galvanised finish, and can be moved intuitively in eight directions. Functions can also be activated or confirmed by turning and pressing it. A user-friendly new control logic for the main menus as well as for the sub-menus, which open up step by step, enables drivers to leaf through the menus safely and in a targeted manner.
COMAND Online encompasses the following features:
COMAND Online also supports the following components:
COMAND Online provides internet access, making it possible to browse freely on the internet and gain quick access to the Mercedes-Benz Online service whenever the car is stationary. These integral services include weather information and a POI search via Google. A route that has been previously configured on a PC using Google Maps can also be sent to the car in this way.
The navigation function in COMAND Online also has new functions to offer, such as a 3D display with three-dimensional city views. Also new: routes covered can be recorded and repeated later, specific personal destinations can be stored or imported via an SD card, plus four alternative routes can be displayed on the navigation map, including a particularly economical variant.
COMAND Online also incorporates digital operating instructions for the Mercedes-Benz G-Class. Owners can thus browse at their convenience through this reference work, enhanced here with special graphics, on the COMAND display unit.
New online services for COMAND Online
Three Mercedes-Benz apps are available to customers for use with COMAND Online:
All COMAND Online users also have access to a Facebook app.
Further apps are also available: a free news app, a Yelp app (in the US version only), and apps for share prices and a car park finder:
Individualisation: Something to suit every taste
The G-Class has a high level of specification even to begin with, while an extensive range of optional extras covers many additional requests for individualisation. On top of all this comes the comprehensive designo range, designed to help fulfil even the most esoteric of requirements. Some suggestions from the designo 'Manufaktur', or hand-finishing section, are even included in the catalogue.
For those wishing to upgrade their G-Class further, a range of five high-end equipment packages have been put together specifically for the G-Class.
The Chrome package includes stylish design elements in the form of additional chrome trim for both the interior and exterior (standard for the G63 AMG and G65 AMG models).
The package includes:
The package includes:
The Exterior Stainless Steel package makes for a glittering appearance.
The package includes (standard for the G63 AMG and G65 AMG models):
The package includes:
The package includes:
Always at the cutting edge: The evolution of the G-Class
1979 - The G-Class is presented to the press for the first time in the south of France. Production gets underway with the 230 G, 240 GD, 280 GE and 300 GD models.
1980 - An enclosed van-type model with short or long wheelbase is added to the model range.
1981 - The first facelift. Automatic transmission, air conditioning, longitudinal bench seats for the load area, additional fuel tanks, a "tropical roof", protective headlamp grilles, a cable winch, a hardtop for the Cabriolet and a mechanical power take-off are all available as options for the 280 GE and 300 GD. A choice of five different paint colours has risen to 22.
1982 - The 230 G is fitted with a fuel injection system and becomes the 230 GE. Recaro seats, auxiliary heating, wide-base tyres on light-alloy wheels and wheel-arch flaring can be ordered as options.
1983 - The 230 GE is optionally available with a four-speed automatic transmission. The second facelift sees four new metallic colour shades and a five-speed transmission added to the list of equipment - as well as eight-inch tandem brake boosters and a new folding soft top for the Cabriolet.
1985 - A facelift adds differential locks, central locking, a rev counter and split rear bumper to the list of standard equipment.
1986 - A closed-loop catalytic converter becomes available for the 230 GE.
1987 - The fourth facelift brings power windows, an automatic aerial, a combined luggage cover and retaining net for the load area, and a larger fuel tank. Unveiling of the 250 GD with 62 kW/84 hp.
1988 - New six-cylinder diesel engine for the 300 GD. The driver's and front passenger's seats are fitted with armrests.
1989 - Launch of the new 463 model series with permanent four-wheel drive, and manually selectable ABS at the International Motor Show (IAA) in Frankfurt.
1990 - The 463 model series is launched with the 230 GE, 300 GE, 250 GD and 300 GD. Customers can choose from three body variants.
1992 - The new 350 GD TURBODIESEL is unveiled. Cruise control, a stainless-steel spare wheel cover, side-mounted running boards, a luggage compartment cover and burr walnut trim are available as options.
1993 - Unveiling of the special model 500 GE. This offers a range of luxury appointments and is built in a limited edition of 500 units.
1994 - A second facelift for the 463 model series brings internally ventilated front disc brakes and a driver airbag.
1995 - All G-Class models are fitted with remote-controlled central locking and an immobiliser.
1996 - The Mercedes-Benz G-Class Cabriolet with electrohydraulic soft top is presented, along with the G 300 TURBODIESEL. Facelift and upgrade of standard equipment with a headlamp cleaning system, cruise control and a front passenger airbag.
1997 - The electronically controlled five-speed automatic transmission becomes available for the G 300 TURBODIESEL and the G 320.The 290 GD TURBODIESEL with 88 kW/120 hp replaces the 290 GD with naturally aspirated diesel engine.
1998 - Mercedes-Benz launches the new G 500 with V8 engine (218 kW/296 hp).
1999 - The multifunction steering wheel is added to the list of standard equipment for the G-Class. Launch of the G55 AMG. Its V8 engine delivers 260 kW/354 hp. The Mercedes-Benz G 500 Guard appears in three different special-protection versions.
2000 - The new 2001 models are unveiled at the Paris Motor Show - with a new interior offering enhanced levels of comfort. A new V8 diesel engine (184 kW/250 hp) for the G 400 CDI. The V8 models are fitted with new light-alloy wheels, a chrome-plated radiator grille and bumpers in the vehicle colour.
2001 - The IAA in Frankfurt sees the unveiling of the G-Class with new dynamic control systems. These include the ESPÂ® Stability Program, BAS Brake Assist and the new ETS Electronic Traction System.
2002 - The new G 270 CDI makes its debut powered by a 115-kW/156-hp five-cylinder diesel engine.
2003 - Indicator repeaters are integrated into the exterior mirrors of the Mercedes-Benz G-Class.
2004 - World premiere of the new G55 AMG with a supercharged V8 engine developing 350 kW/476 hp.
2006 - Introduction of the new G 320 CDI with diesel engine (165 kW/224 hp), fitted as standard with a diesel particulate filter.
2007 - Another facelift. LED-look tail lights. New instrument cluster with four analogue instruments mounted in chrome rings. New four-spoke multifunction steering wheel, modified centre console. COMAND APS as standard for the models G 500 and G55 AMG.
2008 - Revised radiator grille with three slats. New V8 engine with displacement and 5.5 litres and output of 388 hp (285 kW). Bluetooth hands-free system for mobile telephone.
2009 - New seats plus interior design modifications
2011 - V6 diesel engine in the G 350 BlueTEC with state-of-the-art BlueTEC technology and AdBlueÂ® injection, delivering impressively low emissions and output of 155 kW (211 hp).