Mercedes-Benz has revealed the interior of its new G-class off-roader, which has undergone the most significant reinvention of its four-decade lifespan to provide greater comfort, technology and usable space for occupants while not abandoning its utilitarian origins. The 4x4 enjoyed its most successful year yet in 2016, when almost 20,000 were sold globally.
Full details of the new G-class – which has been four years in development at Mercedes’ standalone G facility in Graz, Austria, and is codenamed ‘W464’ – will be fully unveiled at the Detroit motor show in mid-January, but the familiar boxy shape of the current vehicle will be retained.
However, the German manufacturer has made some of the most significant revisions in the five-seater's interior. While incorporating much of the technology and underlying electronic architecture from the latest E-class, Mercedes has retained many of the G-class’s iconic design features.
The overhauled G-class will be wider than the current model. An increased wheelbase and improved packaging of major components have also helped liberate a considerable amount of space, inside. Rear passenger space – an area that was criticised in the current G-class – is said to have increased by 150mm, with approximately 40mm of that being freed up by the longer wheelbase. The driver and front passenger benefit from an additional 38mm, as compared to the existing model. Shoulder and elbow room are up by 38mm and 68mm, respectively in the front; and by 27mm and 56mm, respectively for rear occupants.
Although the new G-class retains its predecessor’s upright windscreen and square-jawed proportions, the seating position is slightly more car-like in the new model. “In the outgoing car, it is more like you sit on the car, but now you sit in it,” said Oliver Metzger, G-class design engineering chief.
The influence of Mercedes’ sedans can be seen on the dashboard and centre console, most notably on the multi-function steering wheel, which features touch-sensitive controls for the infotainment system, an electric handbrake and the gear selector stalk mounted on the steering column, as opposed to the more traditional gearshift in the centre console.
It brings the G-class in line with other Mercedes models equipped with automatic transmissions and opens up space on the centre console for the touchpad and rotary infotainment controller, as well as additional stowage areas. An analogue instrument panel comes as standard, but a ‘virtual’ display is available as an option.
Design themes from the car’s exterior are mirrored inside, said Metzger. “The shape of the air vent is the same as the round headlight sitting in the front grille and the shape of the audio speaker is very similar to the indicator on the front bumper.”
The rear seats can be tilted to nine different angles. They fold flat to increase storage in the boot or recline for greater rear occupant comfort over long journeys. The current G-class’s luggage capacity of 699 litres (with the rear bench up) is likely to be surpassed – although Mercedes is keeping the exact figure under wraps until the official reveal, next month.
Very few parts have been carried over from the outgoing G-class. Among those that do remain are the nozzle of the headlight washer, the cover for the spare wheel – still mounted on the side-hinged rear door – and the door handles.
Although the new G-class will retain its forbearer's off-road ability, it has undergone extensive testing on the Schöckl – the gruelling mountain close to the Graz factory. It will also be more luxurious and offer greater potential for personalisation through optional equipment packages and an AMG Line trim level.