Full images of the next-generation Mercedes-Benz G-Class have leaked onto the internet ahead of the car’s official debut at the Detroit motor show later this month. As expected, changes to the venerable tough SUV are minimal, but revised headlight clusters and a new grille are the most apparent of tweaks on the surface.
Inside, further images (in addition to a previously leaked interior shot) show that the car will get an extra-wide screen stretching from the instrument cluster to the middle of the car, serving as both a digital dashboard and infotainment screen. However, this will only be available on higher trim levels - lower trims will get traditional dials.
The car will be revealed to the world on 15 January - the first day of the Detroit motor show. The brand confirmed the car's reveal date in a new video, but stops short of showing any of the new model.
Mercedes' tough SUV will have a substantially more luxurious interior and strong links to the S-Class, as shown by a previously leaked image of the car's dashboard design.
The new version of Mercedes's square-jawed off-roader, which first arrived in 1979, will be unveiled to the public at the Detroit motor show in later this month. Like the S-Class's, the G-Class's dashboard features fewer buttons and a cleaner design, with metallic button controls on the steering wheel. The G-Class gets more butch metallic vent surrounds, however, as a nod to its more rugged character. The technology fitted to the new G-Class is claimed by some insiders to secure the future of the G-Class well into second half of the next decade. Much of the electronic architecture will be shared with the S-Class.
Myriad changes, hidden beneath traditionally upright styling, are claimed to boost the on-road performance. The G-Class is also in line to receive a new range of engines. These include the latest evolution of AMG’s turbocharged 4.0-litre V8 petrol unit and parent company Mercedes-Benz’s new 2.9-litre in-line six-cylinder diesel, in combination with a new nine-speed automatic gearbox.
The new G-Class has adopted a completely fresh design and a contemporary aluminium construction. The move, Mercedes officials say, helps contribute to a 160kg reduction in kerb weight over today’s mostly steel-bodied model while providing a 30% increase in torsional rigidity. The military-grade off-roader also receives a widened chassis with new front suspension as well as adjustable damping. A new electric architecture supports a widened range of driver assistance systems.
The new G-Class’s design holds true to the look of today’s 38-year-old model with a boxy appearance that, despite a 20mm increase in width, is claimed to have the same 0.54 drag coefficient as today’s car.
The traditional styling aims to provide maximum off-road functionality. Our sister magazine, Autocar UK has been told the nominal fording depth of the new model has increased by up to 100mm. The approach, departure and ramp angles are all said to have been improved, too, if only marginally, over the outgoing model’s. Buyers will also be able to equip the 2018 model with a 360deg off-road camera for safer manoeuvring in tight off-road conditions.
Although early reports suggested the new G-Class was in line to adopt a monocoque construction, We can confirm that it retains the tried and trusted ladder-frame chassis of its predecessor, albeit in heavily modified form.
Mercedes engineering sources say this construction provides the G-Class with new levels of crash integrity, better on-road refinement and, in combination with the new aluminium body structure, a significantly lower weight. Nothing is official yet, but the initial G500 model planned to be showcased at the Detroit motor show in January is said to weigh close to 2435kg — down from the existing G500’s 2595kg. The ladder-frame chassis also helps to preserve the versatile G-Class’s 3500kg towing capacity.
As well as undergoing the usual on-road development process, the new G-Class has been extensively tested at Mercedes’ punishing off-road course in Schöckl, Austria.
The car's new interior is claimed to provide significantly improved accommodation. One source revealed that rear leg room has increased by as much as 150mm in standard-wheelbase guise. Luggage capacity is also said to extend beyond the outgoing model’s 487 litres.
Safety tech includes Active Lane Keeping Assist, and the Pre-Safe system, which activates precautionary occupant protection measures if the car senses a collision is imminent.
The new G-Class will be sold from the outset with an AMG-developed 4.0-litre V8 turbo petrol engine in two states of tune. In the G500, it has 409hp and 610Nm. It also receives a cylinder deactivation device that allows it to run on four cylinders under part-throttle loads in city driving conditions.
In the more highly tuned Mercedes-AMG G63, it packs 594hp and a massive 850Nm, replacing the current 5.5-litre turbo V8, which delivers 555hp and 759Nm.
The new engines are combined with a nine-speed automatic gearbox and a heavy-duty four-wheel-drive system with three differential locks and low-range gearing.
A G400d model is planned to join the line-up later in 2018. It will run Mercedes’ new OM656 in-line six-cylinder diesel engine and develop 330hp and 700Nm. Other units, including a 3.0-litre in-line six- cylinder turbo petrol with an integrated starter/generator mild hybrid set-up, will follow.
Underpinning the 2018 G-Class is a 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’s claimed to provide the model with greater comfort, it receives adaptive damping control too.
Another significant change is the adoption of a new steering system. The recirculating ball system, which dates back to the 1979 G-Wagen, has been replaced by a contemporary electromechanical rack and pinion arrangement, which is claimed to bring a greater degree of precision.
Expect Mercedes to bring the new G-Class to our shores later this year.