The new generation Mercedes-Benz G-Class: Forever young
Stuttgart
May 17, 2012
The new-generation Mercedes-Benz G-Class: The evolution of an icon: the original off roader is now even better, even safer and even more luxurious
  • Exclusive high-grade appointments
  • New AMG biturbo engines
  • Its unmistakable style puts it in a class of its own
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 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 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:
  • a completely re-designed, high-quality dashboard with central, free-standing 17.8 cm colour display unit,
  • a completely re-designed centre console with centre dome and generously-sized trim elements,
  • a new instrument cluster with round-dial instruments and TFT colour display, as well as new multifunction steering wheel with shift paddles,
  • COMAND Online with internet access, operated through the COMAND Controller,
  • re-designed, extremely functional and ergonomic controls,
  • and a new air conditioning control unit.
In order to ensure that the G-Class loses none of its character, certain very typical features of the interior have been retained:
  • grab handle on the dashboard for the front passenger,
  • switches for the differential locks highlighted in chrome,
  • shift lever on the centre console rather than on the steering wheel.
A few cautious modifications have been made to the exterior:
  • new exterior mirrors,
  • new LED daytime running lamps
  • and, for the AMG models, a new radiator grille with twin slats, new bumpers with large air intakes as well as red brake callipers and, for the first time, 20-inch rims.
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 AdBlue®, 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 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 AdBlue®filler cap into the vehicle's filler neck compartment, accessible from the outside. One full tank of AdBlue®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 G 63 AMG and G 65 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 G 63 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 G 65 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 G 65 AMG is thus the most powerful series-production off-roader in the world.
The G-Class engines at a glance
Model
Engine
Displacement cc
kW/hp at rpm
Nm at rpm
l/100 km
CO2 g/km
G 350 BlueTEC
V6 diesel
2987
155/211 at 3400
540 at 1600-2400
11.2
295
G 500
V8
5461
285/387 at 6000
530 at 2800-4800
14.9
348
G 500 Cabriolet
V8
5461
285/387 at 6000
530 at 2800-4800
14.9
348
G 63 AMG
V8 Biturbo
5461
400/544 at 5500
760 at 2000-5000
13.8
322
G 65 AMG
V12 biturbo
5980
450/612 at 4300-5600
1000 at 2300-4300
17.0
397
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
  • larger mechanical damper de-coupling, helps to reduce consumption significantly;
  • in addition, the gearshift program in ECO mode has been changed in favour of lower engine rpm at cruising speeds;
  • friction-optimised bearings and seals plus a new automatic transmission oil (FE-ATF) with reduced viscosity in conjunction with an optimised additive package.
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 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 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:
  • slope climbing ability of up to 80% depending on the surface,
  • 21 cm ground clearance,
  • maximum fording depth of 60 cm through water and mud,
  • tilt angle up to 54%,
  • angle of approach/departure up to 36° at the front and 27° at the rear (differs with AMG).
Mechanical and electronic systems work hand in hand
The 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 ESP® 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 ESP® 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 ESP® function detects the trailer as soon as the electric connector plug is inserted in the socket on the towing vehicle. The ESP® trailer stabilisation system makes use of the ESP®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 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 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.
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