For 35 years, the Mercedes-Benz G-Class has seen tours of duty with United Nations peacekeepers, the Pope, various hardened soldiers from Germany to Canada, and a few celebrities now and again. In that time, the SUV has changed its overall appearance once, when the W463 began leaving the factory in Graz, Austria in 1990; the previous W461 is still available for military and civil service. However, the current Geländewagen will get its second major revision come 2017 while retaining the W463 chassis code.
Autocar reports the changes will be so extensive that Mercedes claims the new G-Class will effectively be a new SUV, though it will still retain its classic look according to SUV chief Andreas Zygan:
We have to be careful with our heritage. We offer something really special. Last year — the 34th — was the best ever for G-class sales. It’s amazing, and one of our idols.
Changes for the 2017 W463 include a wider track for greater stability on- and off-road, more aluminium to reduce around 440 pounds from the current model, and a new front three- or four-link suspension setup mated to a modern electro-mechanical steering system.
Under the bonnet will either be a 3-liter diesel producing over 300 horsepower or 3-liter gasoline engine pushing over 360 horses, all going through Mercedes’ nine-speed 9G-Tronic automatic as standard as a way to improve overall fuel economy. The two engines will debut a year earlier under the hood of the 2016 E-Class.
As for inside, more space will be offered alongside increases in comfort and quality, with a boost in technology for improved safety and assistance.
Finally, AMG variants — which account for half of all G-Class sales — are set to follow the newly revised SUV sometime down the road.