100 Things You Should Know About Daimler | #4

G-force! Daimler sends the G-Class uphill in Austria

Although some people consider it an automotive anachronism, others see it as the most iconic off-road vehicle of all time: For the past 40 years, the G-Class has left almost no-one indifferent. The vehicle’s basic shape has remained unchanged since its launch in 1979 and features a robust ladder-type frame, permanent all-wheel drive, and three differential locks.

No other car model series from Mercedes-Benz has been in production without major changes anywhere near as long as the G-Class. The forefather of all star-brand sport utility vehicles has to demonstrate its athleticism on Schöckl Mountain near Graz, Austria. Not until it has achieved this feat is it officially declared “Schöckl approved” and can go into series production.

Although the 1,445-meter mountain just outside Graz may seem inconspicuous, it is much tougher than it looks. This nature test track is located practically outside the plant gates of the all-wheel-drive specialist Magna Steyr, which has been manufacturing the G-Class for Mercedes-Benz for the past four decades. The Schöckl route is considered one of the biggest challenges for man and technology in the off-road sector.

This is not surprising, because the 5.6-kilometer stretch includes inclines of up to 60 percent and permits a roll angle of 40 percent. During its development phase, a G-Class has to endure more than 2,000 kilometers of tough driving on this challenging route. However, only the 3.4 kilometers of “rough road” actually count for the tests. Depending on the sensitivity of a person’s stomach, anyone who has had the dubious pleasure of driving on this stretch knows that the term “rough road” is by no means exaggerated. Rocks rise up to half a meter out of the trail and tree roots extend across the route. It also features knee-deep ruts, stones, loose rubble, ledges, and mud holes. One kilometer on the rough road produces as much stress on a vehicle as 50 kilometers of normal operation. It therefore comes as no surprise that some of the stretches of this “Grüne Hölle der Steiermark” (Styria's Green Hell) bear such evocative names as Hexenkessel (Witches’ Cauldron), Schlund (Gullet) and Hammerschlag (Hammer Blow).

It’s precisely for this reason that every new model series undergoes endurance testing on Schöckl Mountain. Experienced factory drivers from Magna Steyr work in shifts to drive the test kilometers day and night. The undisputed high quality of the G-Class proves that all of this effort is worth it. Apparently, around 80 percent of all the G-Class vehicles ever produced are still under way on the world’s roads, paths, and rough trails. There’s obviously nothing else like being “Schöckl approved.”

Every tourist trip on Schöckl Mountain ends at the Halterhütte lodge just below the summit.
Every tourist trip on Schöckl Mountain ends at the Halterhütte lodge just below the summit.
Although the 1,445-meter mountain just outside Graz may seem inconspicuous, its roads are quite daunting.
Although the 1,445-meter mountain just outside Graz may seem inconspicuous, its roads are quite daunting.
Man and material are put to a hard test on these routes.
Man and material are put to a hard test on these routes.
The upright trees reveal how much lateral sway the off-road vehicle can handle.
The upright trees reveal how much lateral sway the off-road vehicle can handle.
Among other things, the G-Class Experience Center includes an artificial off-road area known as the G-Rock, which contains a variety of drive-up ramps with slopes of up to 100 percent.
Among other things, the G-Class Experience Center includes an artificial off-road area known as the G-Rock, which contains a variety of drive-up ramps with slopes of up to 100 percent.
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So, have we whetted your appetite for the “G”?

If you’d like to experience the Schöckl feeling yourself, you’ll get the chance beginning in March 2020. At the new G-Class Experience Center 15 kilometers south of Graz off-road driving fans will be able to put their skills to the test on a variety of surfaces and slopes as well as in water troughs and along steep-banked curves. Further information can be found on the G-Class Experience website.

If you prefer to find out more about the iconic off-road vehicle in a museum rather than behind a steering wheel, we recommend you visit the “Stories of the G” exhibition at the Mercedes-Benz Museum in Stuttgart. G-Class vehicles from 1979 to the present will be shown there until April 19, 2020. The exhibits include an exact replica of the winning vehicle of the 1983 Paris–Dakar Rally as well as a “popemobile” that was also featured in the second installment of our “100 Things...” series.

In this column, we present you interesting, quaint or widely unknown facts from the world of Daimler. We publish a new episode of "100 Things You Should Know About Daimler" every two weeks.

Cornelia Hentschel

doesn’t drive a G-Class herself. She thinks that this is very sensible, given that she lives in an inner city. However, it would have also been sensible if she hadn’t rented a small car for a tour through Namibia. Even before she had a flat tire on a gravel track, she realized that her vehicle was a lot of things, but it certainly wasn’t “Schöckl approved.”

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