Mercedes-Benz has unveiled the second-generation G-class, which – while having been updated, in every aspect – retains the old-school styling that debuted on the model, 38 years ago.
The iconic exterior design sees minor tweaks, with most of the cosmetic work having been done on the inside. The brand has also upgraded the SUV’s ride comfort and agility.
In terms of design, the distinctive door handles and door-closing sound continue, as does the exterior protective strip, bare spare wheel on the rear door and prominent indicator lamps. Mercedes claims that the surface quality has improved, which results in narrower and more precise gaps, while also saying the wheel arches and bumpers are a more integral part of the body and looks less like add-on features.
Compared to the outgoing model, the new G-class is 53mm longer at 4,715mm and 121mm wider at 1,881mm. In spite the increase, the new Mercedes off-roader is more compact than its Range Rover rival, which measures 4,999mm in length and 1,983mm in width. The wheelbase has also increased by 40mm, creating more room at the rear with Mercedes claiming a 150mm increase in rear leg room and a 38mm bump in front leg room.
On the inside, the G-class has been through the Mercedes parts bin, looking a lot like the new E-class, from the multifunctional steering wheel, which features touch-sensitive controls for several gadgets, from the infotainment system to the electric handbrake. The gear selector stalk is mounted on the steering column, as opposed to the more traditional gearshift in the centre console. This move has liberated more space on the centre console for the touchpad and rotary infotainment controller, as well as more cubbies for knick-knacks. An analogue instrument panel comes as standard. However, a ‘virtual’ display is an optional add-on.
The grab handle for the front passenger and the chrome switches for the three differential locks – highlights of the previous model – have been retained. The rear seats come with a recline-and-fold function to increase boot space (699 litres on the outgoing model), when required.
The placement of the rear camera (an issue on the previous model) has been addressed by now mounting it below the spare wheel. It is also claimed to be "one-hundred percent waterproof".
In terms of the G-class’ performance – both, on and off the road – its handling has been improved, with Mercedes stating that this was one of the primary goals of development. The brand claims the G-class is even better off-road yet also “significantly more agile, dynamic and comfortable” on the road.
While the ladder-frame chassis is shared with the previous model, the second-gen SUV is built on a heavily revised chassis and features a new aluminium body structure, which has resulted in a 170kg drop in weight. Suspension duties are carried out by AMG-developed double-wishbones at the front and a rigid rear axle. The raising of the axles has helped increase ground clearance to 241mm – up 6mm. Other improvements to off-road capability include a 700mm maximum fording depth (100mm more than before), a 30deg departure angle and a 31deg approach angle.
Body rigidity is also improved on the ladder-type frame, with a strut tower brace at the front-end connecting to front strut towers. At the rear, the new rigid axle is controlled by four trailing arms on each side and a Panhard rod – which claims to make on-road driving more comfortable.
Four-wheel drive is standard and the SUV comes with up to five driving modes. While the first four are shared with other Mercedes models, the new G-mode is a meant for off-road driving, only by incorporating the three differential locks offered on its predecessor, in addition to low-range gearing. G-mode adapts the damping and steering as well as the accelerator, avoiding unnecessary gearshifts, all of which is meant to ensure optimal control during off-roading.
The re-circulating ball steering of the outgoing model has been replaced with a new contemporary electromechanical rack-and-pinion setup, which also allows for the implementation of driving assistance systems such as Parking Assist.
Mercedes’ new nine-speed automatic transmission replaces the older model’s seven-speed one, and it has been specifically adapted to meet the needs of the SUV, says Mercedes, with reduced shift and response times.
Powering the new G-class will be an AMG-developed 4.0-litre V8 turbo-petrol engine in two states of tune. The lower-spec G 500 will have it in a lesser state, while the range-topping G 63 will get it in a 611hp/850Nm. A new 2.9-litre, straight-six diesel engine will also be on offer at a later date in the G 350d, which develops 286hp and 600Nm of torque.
The possibility of an all-electric G-class was also hinted at, which is in line with Mercedes’ plan to have a completely electrified line-up by 2022.
The previous-gen G-class, and a special Edition 463 version, are on sale in India, priced at Rs 2.48 crore and Rs 2.63 crore, respectively (prices on-road, Delhi). There is no word on when the German brand will launch the new model in India.