By on December 3, 2014

1024px-Mercedes-Benz_G_63_AMG_2012

What an unfortunate time for Mercedes-Benz. Brazil and India are limping along economically, and the sub-$70 oil prices are surely going to limit the number of Rosneft bigwigs (and outright criminals…err, oligarchs) able to gallivant around in the latest crop of crossovers. At least China is still churning, right? Of all the luxury car makers in China, Mercedes-Benz owners are the wealthiest.

 Mercedes wasn’t the first to introduce the coupe-cum-crossover to the automotive world. That dubious honor goes to BMW, which introduced, in rapid succession, the X6, the 5-Series GT, the X4 and the 3-Series GT.

Mercedes, on the other hand, has been coasting on the success of the G-Wagen SUV, which, in a world of antiquated designs wrapped in high-dollar vestments and sold at outrageous markups, is the zenith of this formula: a 30+ year old military truck built for the Shah of Iran, flocked in faux-Chanel handbag upholstery and sold to the consorts of the one percent as this season’s must have mode of transportation.

The one and only time I have driven a G-Wagen was when I babysat the owner of a G63 AMG, a friend-of-a-friend who makes bi-monthly appearances at rehab facilities. We had stayed out far too late – or should I say, I stayed out far too late for somebody who hadn’t ingested cardiotoxic quantities of stimulants, and it was up to me to get my friend, and the G-Wagen home safely.

I drove the short distance back to his home, marveling at what a wretched nugget of dogshit the G-Wagen was. It was dynamically reprehensible: every application of the brakes, throttle or steering resulted in some kind of reciprocal pitching or yawing. Even though it packed a twin-turbo AMG V8 under the hood, there was no way you could ever use any of the power. The G63 is a bit like a side of beef that’s rotten and covered in toxic mold, but sold as dry aged steak – at least that’s the best analogy I came up with, while my friend hung his head out the window, cackling at girls in too short bandage dresses ala Heath Ledger’s Joker.

I’ll concede that for a tiny minority, it offers unparalleled off-road capabilities. But the world is no longer made for the Mercedes-Benz G-Wagen, or its cohort of rugged, body-on-frame SUVs like the Jeep Wrangler and Land Rover Defender. The ubiquitous axis of emissions and crash safety regulations imposing an increasing burden on automakers, who must go even further out of their way to achieve compliance in these areas for products that were engineered in the era of belted sanitary napkins.

At this point, OEMs have two options, both sufficiently expensive. They can invest in radical changes to the vehicle (no folding windscreen and aluminum body panels for the Wrangler) or the inevitable pussification of an iconic product (the rumored “lifestyle” Defender said to be debuting in the next year or two). Option A works best if you have sufficient volume that will allow your investment to scale. The Jeep Wrangler is a perfect candidate, since it has sufficient volume, cachet, pent-up global demand and the ability to withstand frequent redesigns, allowing Fiat Chrysler to amortize the costs of such a radical change.

Jaguar Land Rover, recognizing that the Defender’s current “it car status” stems from its position as a Veblen good for those who summer in Newport, East Hampton and other places that once posted signs proclaiming “No Dogs, No Jews”, is taking the other road. Since they will never build a few hundred thousand Defenders per year (capacity and market forces suggest as much), they’re stuck using whatever is laying around JLR’s garage- and you can bet that it’s not the current ladder-frame/aluminum panels setup that, while emulated by the Americans, doesn’t have a hope in hell of meeting the current regulatory regime.

And what about the G-Wagen? I have no idea. It might turn into a castrated version of itself, riding on the GL platform. It might linger on as a very expensive flagship, with Mercedes continuing to churn out small quantities for Arabians and Kardashians.

What I do know is this: Mercedes is re-jigging their entire SUV and CUV lineup to organize a heriarchy of nomenclature. The GLK will become the GLC, the GL will get a new moniker (presumably GLS) and buyers who might normally opt for a G-Wagen will be steered towards the GLE Coupe, M-B’s new X6 fighter.

The GLE Coupe resembles a cross between the new S-Class coupe and a growth of the Human Papilloma Virus. It is unspeakably vulgar, an aesthetic atrocity and we are going to see them everywhere within two years time. How do I know this? Because whenever I feel a conviction this strong and this negative about a new vehicle, the market tends to embrace it with open arms. I had similar feelings towards the Buick Encore, and look how that turned out.

In his latest column, Peter De Lorenzo chastises Mercedes-Benz for thinking that “…they will reach the Promised Land through volume, plain and simple.” I’m not sure what PDL thinks the promised land is for M-B, but I am confident that in the eyes of Dr. Z, it’s spelled “E-B-I-T-D-A”. We are in an era where the auto world is a mature market, where volume matters and greater economics of scale drive profits, and where the unrefined tastes of consumers both at home and abroad is now the focal point for brands that we enthusiasts once held in high esteem.

Forget it Pete, It’s Chinatown.

 

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126 Comments on “Generation Why: Forget It Pete, It’s Chinatown...”


  • avatar
    Compaq Deskpro

    Why isn’t anyone able to handle any body roll?

  • avatar
    Ihatejalops

    So many thoughts.

    1. Faux Chanel? Real Chanel as both were definitely Nazi’s. Although ironically, the leather is made in Italy.
    2. They definitely allowed dogs in old Newport.

    Now for the real stuff. If in a mature market these guys are going for volume, where do they think the volume will come from? What I don’t understand is why they aren’t working on increasing their margins in some way and act like a products and real luxury company. Ferrari does a great job of diversifying and a few brands could do this as well so that way they can be true to their core and avoid dirtying the brand. Also a reason as to why Ferrari gets away with it is because they do not change their core product (focus) on their cars. Nevertheless, MBA’s run these companies and if there’s one thing I know about an MBA, its that they know shit about luxury goods & brands and always go the lowest common denominator. Hello CLA.

    And remember, H.L. Mencken is always right.

    • 0 avatar
      David Walton

      Ferrari has sullied the vaunted brand by producing/licensing cheap consumer products liberally emblazoned with the august Cavallino Rampante; this is ok, though, because everyone knows the difference between buying an Officially Licensed Scuderia Ferrari Team Hat for $40 and purchasing a new(ish) Ferrari for quite a bit more.

      I would counter that MBAs know quite a bit about luxury goods; garnering the ability to purchase such trappings is oftentimes a major motivation for pursuing such a degree.

      • 0 avatar
        Ihatejalops

        As someone who’s worked primarily in the luxury goods capacity, I can tell you first hand they do not and try to keep going the volume route, which will kill the brand because those who can afford it like the exclusivity of being able to afford them. Luxury is not volume and requires a special touch (the French understand this the best). Ferrari’s have certainly not and has allowed people to be part of the brand without destroying their equity because their core products aren’t cheap. Just because you aspire to buy something doesn’t mean you understand nor know how to sell the product.

        Find me cheap Jonb Lobb’s or anything cheap at Hermes and I’ll find you a dying brand.

        • 0 avatar
          David Walton

          Amusingly, Hermes brought Lobb downmarket; Hermes distribution is controlled very tightly nevertheless.

          Currently you cannot purchase Hermes anywhere else in Atlanta other than the boutique, even in the case of neckties. Neither Neiman Marcus nor Saks Fifth Avenue carry them, nor does Sid Mashburn (or other haberdashers). For comparison, all of the aformentioned stores carry Ferragamo ties, etc., including 2 locations within sight of the Ferragamo boutique!

          As another side note, I find the personnel working in the (newly expanded) Atlanta location distasteful (ignorant with respect to the product, inarticulate, indelicate) and prefer to purchase ties at the Madison Avenue location when work takes me to NYC.

          Regardless, as a putative Mercedes shareholder I wouldn’t be particularly worried about the brand being compromised. If (perceived) brand drift negatively impacted the share price, I’d have the opportunity to enter a remarkably liquid market and dispose of the shares. Fanbois and others who are emotionally invested have it worse; it’s a bit harder to slough off those types of investment.

        • 0 avatar
          hgrunt

          “Just because you aspire to buy something doesn’t mean you understand nor know how to sell the product.” — Absolutely true. I think this whenever I read comments about how this-or-that company should/shouldn’t do this-or-that.

          Mercedes, and the German luxury car companies, have a very different MO than Ferrari. The Ferrari brand is worth far more than the cars themselves.

          The CLA (and the Audi A3, BMW 1er), is likely meant to bring younger buyers into the brand, help expand into emerging markets, while creating an economy of scale where shared R&D, platform tech, etc. can decrease overall manufacturing costs. Investors like to see big big sales numbers, too. Not a proper move for a luxury company, but Mercedes still has a lot of equity to spend.

          My take on the G-wagen and it’s continued existence: The platform cost has long been amortized at this point. All of the electronics are parts binned from other Benzes. Much like the Land Cruiser, and much like the Lexus LX460, they’re happy selling just a handful of them to anyone who wants one and still able to make a few bucks. When someone is shopping for a G-Wagen, chances are, it’s just what they want, regardless if it’s a good value or not. Same reason why people buy Lambos and Hermes ties.

          I always wonder about the per-product profit margin on luxury goods like John Lobb or Hermes, and if they’re significantly higher than non-luxury goods or not.

        • 0 avatar
          ellomdian

          There is a fascinating division between ‘old’ luxury and ‘new’ – while you are right that ‘old’ luxury almost demands exclusivity, there is a very profitable segment that brand snobs tend to sneer at in commodity luxury.

          Yes, you can have a haute handbag hand sewn in the mountains of Italy with the nicest bespoke materials for 5-figures, and they will only make 15 of them a year, and it will be the last bag you could ever need to own.
          Or, you can have one machine-made with premium (but not bespoke) materials for a few hundred bucks, and they are going to sell 10,000 of them this year, and you are going to buy another one next year because everyone already has the one you bought.

          Personally, if I owned a luxury goods manufacturer, I feel like it would be a good idea to have a label for both, and to keep them visibly separate to the public. But you had better believe there would be a LOT of collusion between them behind the scenes…

          As for the article, it’s going to be interesting to see what replaces the RangeRovers and G-Wagens when Oil jumps back above $100/barrel – last time it was Tesla.

    • 0 avatar
      danio3834

      If I know anything about a broad group of people, it’s surely a stereotype.

  • avatar
    Hummer

    Just what the world needs something different than the rest being turned into another compliance-mobile.

  • avatar
    stuki

    Also at work, is the post cold war shift in planning for wars. Away from the bombed out semiurbanity of a WW2 European theater.

    Newer “Jeep” replacements, are designed for a US military ensconced far away from any contact with built up civilization. Meaning bigger, and even less suitable for the Hamptons, rule the roost.

  • avatar
    CoreyDL

    “Brazil and India are limping along economically”

    By my account, Brazil is an exploding middle market which is doing very well. Their car sales in particular are shockingly awesome. Where is it limping?

    Also, this is the most rambling editorial you have ever written, and it’s all over the place. Far from your best work!

    “built for the Shah of Iran, flocked in faux-Chanel handbag upholstery and sold to the consorts of the one percent as this season’s must have mode of transportation.”

    Bleh. Quit trying to be Jack.

  • avatar
    dal20402

    None of what you point out is unique to the car market. Look what has happened to designer fashion and luxury goods in the past few years. The top brands are no longer tastemakers, but reflections of gaudy and often out-of-date popular preferences.

    • 0 avatar
      April

      I hear you. While shopping at Sears I came across a large display of Playboy branded cologne. So tacky and out of style in so many ways.

      • 0 avatar
        CoreyDL

        Just like the store it was contained in!

      • 0 avatar
        dal20402

        To tell the truth, although as a straight man I probably shouldn’t admit this, purses and handbags were at the front of my mind as I made this comment. Just compare a Prada or even Coach purse made today with one of the same brand made in 2000. There’s no comparison, and it’s obvious even to someone whose only exposure to purses is when buying an occasional gift for (now) the wife or (then) the girlfriend.

      • 0 avatar
        DenverMike

        Yeah but you don’t wear the bottle. So how did it smell?

        • 0 avatar
          April

          Not sure but I bet it’s overwrought and ghastly.

          • 0 avatar
            DenverMike

            Aren’t we judging a book by its cover? I thought you especially, would be the last to do that. A bit shallow no?

            That trademark can’t be cheap. I can almost guarantee it has a very pleasant scent, if someone is into that sort of thing.

            But it’s always been amusing to me. I doubt women are attracted to perfumed men. The only scent that turns them on is the smell of money.

          • 0 avatar
            Lie2me

            “The only scent that turns them on is the smell of money.”

            A bit shallow no?

          • 0 avatar
            April

            @ DenverMike Are you saying the odor of paper currency is the only way you can attract women?

          • 0 avatar
            DenverMike

            It’s not about the actual smell of paper bills. The scent of freshly printed currency is pleasant, except 1’s smell the same as 100’s.

            I go the other way and appear to be poor on purpose, or just scraping by, when I actually do alright. It’s my low self esteem and whatnot. I have to know they want me for ME.

            I have longtime friends that didn’t know I paid cash for my home, rental prop and cars/trucks. Of course, nothing fancy. Their reaction is kind of shocked, if it comes up in conversation.

            It’s just not something I think to talk about.

          • 0 avatar
            28-Cars-Later

            “Are you saying the odor of paper currency is the only way you can attract women?”

            If those women are strippers, yes. Lol seriously great post.

      • 0 avatar
        David Walton

        Since when has “Playboy” been an exemplar of panache?

    • 0 avatar
      hgrunt

      That’s because they’re increasingly aiming at the Gulf, Asian and Russian markets.

  • avatar
    kvndoom

    I just looked up that GLE thing. I really laughed! I thought it was a joke and somebody shrunk the pictures’ x-axis! Then I realized this was going to be a production vehicle. It wasn’t so funny anymore.

  • avatar
    April

    I say force Mercedes Benz to remove all the safety equipment on the G-Wagon. May be the only way to get rid of the Oligarchs.

  • avatar
    FormerFF

    I object to the use of the word “pussification” as a term of disparagement. After having watched my wife give birth twice, I can only say I hold that organ in even higher esteem than I did before becoming a father.

    Speaking of the GLE Coupe, do you suppose they have to pay royalties to the designers of the Pontiac Aspire? I see more than a little similarity there.

    • 0 avatar
      Quentin

      I’ve passed out 2 times. The first time was giving blood and getting a terrible stomach bug on the same day (I awoke staring at the hallway ceiling). The second time was watching my wife give birth. I can’t argue when she jokingly says I’m a wimp when I’m limping around the house with broken ribs from mountain biking or various knee/foot injuries from soccer.

  • avatar

    Several of my clients drive this POS. They are all insanely rich women in, how shall I say, their twilight years. Speaking to them it would seem that the G Wagon is an excellent fashion accessory. Not ostentatious to look at, but in their ratified circles it’s a nod to knowing what’s hot. They all love their toy, sometimes giving it names that are more befitting to a poodle. I highly doubt they know what kind of engine their accessory has nor do they give a damn.

    • 0 avatar
      dal20402

      US market G-Wagen not ostentatious to look at? What could possibly be more ostentatious? I guess maybe a Rolls-Royce Phantom. Certainly the G-Wagen is the most ostentatious thing MBZ makes and fair competition for a Bentley in that respect

      • 0 avatar
        CoreyDL

        I disagree here. The SLS with it’s ridiculous gull-wing doors is more ostentatious. As well as any garish AMG Black.

        A Brooklands or Continental GT is restrained in comparison.

        • 0 avatar
          sportyaccordy

          Look at it like this- a G-Wagen is basically a MILF donk

          Big box on big wheels and a throwback to a long gone era, slathered in expensive paint, horrible to drive, existing only to make a meaningless, insecure, uninformed statement.

          When I see a G Class I go through the same cycle of emotions as I do when I see a donk… confusion, disappointment, pity.

      • 0 avatar
        David Walton

        A silver 4-5 year old non-AMG G wagen is a beautiful design IMO.

        • 0 avatar
          Sigivald

          I agree.

          They’re beautiful in the same way a Defender is, even if the average buyer is using it as a fashion statement and a way to remind everyone around them that they have more money than sense.

          (If I had Unlimited Money [and thus defintionally more money than sense], I would buy a new one.

          And have it repainted flat tan with no chrome.

          And tow with it, and go offroad with it.

          IE, like an 80s grey-market G with a really nice interior and a serious engine.)

          • 0 avatar
            CoreyDL

            Agree. Same way as a Defender and same way as a Grand Wagoneer, or an original RR. Square, solid, not at all interested in sporting pretensions.

            Drive along the edge of the estate by the waterside, and have an early spring picnic. May need your tweed jacket, it’s a bit nippy.

        • 0 avatar
          kmoney

          +1. It wasn’t until they got slathered with LED running lights painted brake calipers and wheels that look like they should be on a 911 turbo that they turned to crap.

          I’ve been looking for a used G for a while, but they never come up in the Canadian market in good shape or for a reasonable price. I’d never take it rock-crawling, but it would be my go to vehicle to take hunting or backwoods camping. Even thought they have been blinged out, they are still a massively capable off-road platform underneath.

      • 0 avatar

        You have to remember, this from their POV, not yours

  • avatar
    energetik9

    I’m always surprised the AMG G wagon still exists. I appreciate it’s f-you type of attitude, existing outside of the mainstream, but I’ve never read anything good about this car, except in real off road situations. I see a few of these regularly in my neighborhood, but they are far outnumbered by Cayenne’s, X5M’s and Range Rovers.

  • avatar
    Serpens

    @Derek Kreindler

    Mercedes has already told us what’s going to happen to the G-wagen. It will be wider for greater stability and it will receive a new four-link front suspension. They are absolutely going to maintain the character and iconic look of the current model.

    These changes indicate that it’s probably on the same platform as before…although I must say if it was on the GL-class I wouldn’t exactly call it castrated.

  • avatar
    John R

    Just had a look at that GLE “coupe”. Total hell. This “SUV” is one Eibach ProSystem-plus kit away from being what 85% of SUV buyers should have purchased in the first place, a damn wagon.

    This, I can tell, will be the “solution” for those who are compelled by peer pressures to own an SUV, but can’t cope with the dynamic “challenges” of driving an SUV.

    For a long time I thought the Yukon based H2 was the exemplar of everything wrong with 1st world motoring. I see, now, that I need to revisit that meditation.

    • 0 avatar
      Hummer

      I hope your not talking H2 Hummer, because it isn’t even close to similar to a Yukon.

      • 0 avatar
        John R

        http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/GMT800

        • 0 avatar
          Hummer

          Why is it the most uniformed people create the strongest beliefs and stereotypes against whatever it is they lack knowledge of?
          First of all a Yukon and Tahoe use the same general options sheet excluding the Denali in the GMT800, that’s evident without trouble, so why you would continue reading that source after that pairing of words make no sense.

          The GMT800 is a platform that ranges from Tahoes, escalades, reg cab short bed pickups, to 1 ton dually duramax diesel trucks, and yes the H2.
          Is a reg cab, short bed 1500 with a 4.3l V6 based on the same chassis and running gear as a 1 ton dually with a 6.6 duramax/8.1 vortec?
          I would hope not, else tow ratings for the half ton are too low and tow ratings for 1 ton are too high.

          A Yukon doesn’t have a semi-floater rear end, full time AWD with selectable 4 high/low, 3/4 ton chassis, 3/4 ton running gear, push button rear diff locker, 9.25 front diff, (axle types means 8 lug, which isn’t availible on a Yukon), 6.0 engine requires Denali package for the yukon, among other differences.
          Not to mention the H2 was never built by General Motors corporation.

          • 0 avatar
            Lie2me

            “The H2 was built under contract by AM General at a specially constructed plant in Mishawaka, Indiana, USA. The H2’s final frame assembly is made up of 3 sections: The front uses a modified GM 2500-Series utility frame, the midsection is all new and is completely boxed, and the rear section uses a modified GM 1500-Series frame which is upgraded for the 8,600 pounds (3,900 kg) gross vehicle weight.”- Wikipedia

          • 0 avatar
            Hummer

            Thank you, as you can see Wikipedia is still editable by anyone.

          • 0 avatar
            Drzhivago138

            When in doubt, deny all credibility of Wikipedia. Works every time.

            Yes, that particular section has no citations, but also no [citation needed] tag, and some cursory research into the page’s history reveals that section has been there for some time.

            Granted, an H2 has about as much in common with a Tahoe as the Weinermobile does with the Isuzu N-Series it’s built on.

          • 0 avatar
            Hummer

            Meh Wikipedia credibility is an easy target, but honestly with the amount of sources availible that detail features of the H2, it’s really poor to just take everything you hear as fact, it makes your entire opinion seem like it was constructed by the opinions of others.

            I would love to hear someone explain how a H2 was based on a Yukon, I can yell day in and day out that an Excursion is based on a explorer, but even if I’m going to ignore easily sourced facts that doesn’t make me correct.

            But seriously someone here explain what makes a H2 based on a Yukon, what similarities do they share other than a platform designation(AKA GMT8XX), I would highly enjoy this, unfortunately I know no one is going to take me up on this.

            The H2s page says the SUT only was on a GMT913 platform, which was somehow introduced 2 years before the GMT900 platform. Not to mention the SUV and SUT frames are the same. So yes, it’s easy to be skeptical of Wiki.
            It also doesn’t differentiate the build locations, it lists 3-4 locations, but if you look into the places, except for the Southbend location all the other locations were doing partial assemblies.

          • 0 avatar
            Lie2me

            The H2 doesn’t even share a platform designation per se, H2 platform was a GMT913

          • 0 avatar
            dal20402

            So, basically, taking your description at face value, a H2 is a Denali on a slightly modified HD truck frame of the same generation rather than the half-ton frame and equipped with a heavier-duty 4WD system. Basically a “Denali 2500” with a major off-road package.

            (And the moronic-looking bodywork that manages to be even less space-efficient than a Yukon.)

          • 0 avatar
            tresmonos

            umm 2500 ld front end with a modified 1500 GMT800 suv rear (with 2500 ld axle). Only way they could buy the Hummer name, develop and manufacture the POS in less than 3 years.

            It’s a frankenstein SUV, with a shot gun launch at a time when new vehicle development was going almost twice it’s cycle… which is why the new vehicle quality of it was atrocious.

          • 0 avatar
            Lie2me

            Maybe this will clear up some of the confusion. The earlier H2s were built on the GMT820 platform the later ones were built on the GMT913 platform.

            “The GMT 800 and similar GMT 880 was the basis for the 1999-2006 Chevrolet Silverado full-size pickup truck. The derived GMT 820 and GMT 830 was used in the Suburban, among other full-size SUVs. This is the successor to the GMT 400 series of C/K pickups and SUVs.

            Applications:

            GMT 800/880
            Chevrolet Silverado
            GMC Sierra
            GMT 820
            Cadillac Escalade
            Chevrolet Tahoe
            GMC Yukon
            Hummer H2 (A unique platform, but based on the 820)

            The GMT 900 debuted at the 2006 North American International Auto Show, as the next generation C/K full-size pickups and SUVs, and replacements for the GMT 800s. The first GMT 900 vehicle was the Chevrolet Tahoe, which arrived at dealers in January 2006. The GMC Yukon (regular and Denali) and Cadillac Escalade soon followed. Chevrolet Avalanches and Suburbans, GMC Yukon XLs, and Cadillac Escalade ESV and EXT were at dealers July 2006.

            Applications:

            GMT 900
            Chevrolet Silverado Regular Cab/Extended Cab/Crew Cab (GMT 901)
            GMC Sierra Regular Cab/Extended Cab/Crew Cab (GMT 902)
            Chevrolet Silverado HD (GMT 911)
            GMC Sierra HD (GMT 912)
            Hummer H2 Crew Cab (GMT 913)”

            – Wikipedia

          • 0 avatar
            Hummer

            dal, nothing else uses the transfer case that’s in the H2, nothing GM makes has push button rear diff locker, nothing GM made had 35in All-terrains from the factory with ability to fit 37s without lift, no vehicle had factory rocker protectors or 1/4 alum skid plates, I don’t believe Denalis had 4.10 gearing, nor did any Denali have a 2200 lb payload rating.

            To say an H2 is a Denali HD offroad is to say a F150 is exactly like a Ridgeline but with a V8, your ignoring everything you don’t want to see. Not to mention at the time “HD” and “offroad” were completely opposite of the Denali design language, your really struggling for a connection here.

            The H2 has a timeless look, if it was such a poor design it wouldn’t still have such a large following, nor would Multiple Chinese companies try to imitate the designs as their own, you can’t spin that. Not everyone wants to drive a Camry like yourself.
            Also what does space efficiency have to do with anything, it has to hold 35 inch tires, without a lift, where the heck is space going to come from? That comment doesnt begin to make sense. How come a corolla can’t tow 8k lbs, what a terrible design.

            Tres, having GM parts is the greatest feature of the vehicle, the parts are durable, and plentiful. The original concept completely defied the point of the vehicle, that is, to create a design that allows the brand to have owners other than the ones who could swing $95k+. If the original design had went to production, the $48k price tag the H2 started with wouldn’t have been possible, making the launch a failure. No doubt interior quality is low even for the time, but components are strong, readily availible, and most importantly cheap.

            Still waiting for someone to explain where all these Yukon parts that it apparently shares are at.

          • 0 avatar
            Hummer

            Lie2me I’m positive the GMT913 is a wiki error.

            The H2 kept the same basic running gear with updates/fixes the entire run. 03-07 had mostly completely interchangeable parts, 08-09, got the updated 6.2 and 6 speed, along with availible 3.73 gearing, which became standard in 09.
            Throughout the run there was a period in 05-06 when there was a run on 3/4 frames and GM used the 1 ton front section in place of the 3/4. And although a mount or two may exist differently between the 03-07 and 08,09 frames, they should be completely interchangeable as it never left the 800 platform.

          • 0 avatar
            Lie2me

            “The Hummer’s GMT913 platform indeed had differences from the other GMT900 SUV’s but the rear suspension was not one of them. You said the Escalade should have independent rear suspension, and yet the H2 that you praise shared the same rear suspension as the other GMT900 models. Are you aware of the fact that the Escalade is not utterly divergent from the Hummer in the fact that it also got suspension changes for it’s intended mission that the H2 did not? I will let you guess what the Escalade offers that is not offered on the H2.” – GM Inside News

          • 0 avatar
            Hummer

            Whatever I’ll just post an end-all

            The first two prove what I said, the third is simply an interesting read in body manufacturing process.

            http://www.lynchhummer.com/h2pages/h2chassis.html
            http://www.lynchhummer.com/h2pages/powertrain.html
            http://www.lynchhummer.com/h2pages/body.html

            To get to those 3 pages,
            http://www.lynchhummer.com/Changes/index.html
            >H2 model year changes > 03 First model year.

          • 0 avatar

            http://www.fourwheeler.com/vehicle-reviews/129-0209-2003-hummer-h2-review/

            Here they mention the rear section of the chassis is based on the Tahoe.

          • 0 avatar
            Hummer

            Modified rear section to hold 8600 GVWR, no Tahoe left the factory with this rear frame section.

          • 0 avatar
            tresmonos

            It had to be modified for that axle.

            I agree that it’s best trait is it’s powertrain. The rest of the vehicle is a frankenstein monster. If they would have shoe horned in that 6.whatever duramax, then we’d be talking about something with some crazy capability. I think it’s engine bay depth didn’t allow for it.

            It’s not for me, and GM’s engineering team didn’t do so hot with the launch. It was fast and there were a lot of initial quality issues. Hell, I was working in a dealership back when it launched (initial year).

          • 0 avatar
            Hummer

            Several companies, predator being one, do 6.6 duramax swaps into the H2s, they pride on keeping them as factory installed as possible. People that have done these swaps have shown to be able to get MPG over 20.
            The planned 4.5L duramax was tested in H2s and for a while after the brand folded you could find test mules being spotted in junkyards near Southbend, along with longbed H2s.

            I have no trouble admitting the interior quality is terrible until the redesign, thankfully the GM parts bin drivetrain has been almost flawless in reliability save a leaky front diff seal.
            I’m aware it was one of the fastest vehicles to production, but let’s be honest, if it took them another 3 years to get to production the truck would probably have sold half the number of units over its life that it did.

          • 0 avatar
            tresmonos

            I agree whole heartedly with you, Hummer – I think it’s a first. The fast launch was to capture what GM believed to be the pinnacle of SUV demand. Had that been on the market in 1999 when they initially identified the product, GM would have reaped massive profits on top of their already booming SUV sales.

            Had GM and Ford stuck with their plans for smaller diesels, I think the 1/2 truck market would be a different landscape (I’m not saying the H2 is 1/2 ton… what would it be classified as?)

            Edit: Also, most OEM’s now do 3-4 year product cycles. It wasn’t until the 2010 Taurus that Ford perfected the 4 year launch. I may be incorrect on this statement…

            Edit 2: You should approach Derek on doing an in depth review / analysis on a H2. It would be interesting. You could even photograph the chassis components to document what went into it.

          • 0 avatar
            rpn453

            “Why is it the most uniformed people create the strongest beliefs and stereotypes against whatever it is they lack knowledge of?”

            I think the employers specifically look for that attribute during the selection and hiring process.

          • 0 avatar
            Hummer

            GMs vin decoder decodes it as a “luxury 3/4 ton” almost in that exact fashion iirc. Not quite sure I agree on the whole “luxury” part but I suppose the idea there was to add cheap amenities and not have low trims so that they could reason the 48k starting price tag which at the time wasn’t all that close to the GM 1/2 SUVs. Not sure where the standard cloth seats fit into that but w/e.
            If they could have offered an affordable diesel varient that could average 22-26, no doubt the market would be different.

            One day I plan on submitting an in-depth review of the truck, but don’t expect it anytime soon.

        • 0 avatar
          Lie2me

          “The Hummer’s GMT913 platform indeed had differences from the other GMT900 SUV’s but the rear suspension was not one of them. You said the Escalade should have independent rear suspension, and yet the H2 that you praise shared the same rear suspension as the other GMT900 models. Are you aware of the fact that the Escalade is not utterly divergent from the Hummer in the fact that it also got suspension changes for it’s intended mission that the H2 did not? I will let you guess what the Escalade offers that is not offered on the H2.” – GM Ins*de News

          • 0 avatar
            Hummer

            See above,

            Maybe they changed the designation, I’m not sure, that’s the first time I’ve seen that distinction on the newer trucks. Do note how many times it explicitly refers to the the SUT. I’m not sure what to make of that as all the parts on the axles and transfer case continue to be completely interchangeable including how they mount, and I’ve heard of a 2005 SUV put on a NOS 09 frame.
            Similarly the GMT900 3/4,1ton trucks continued using the old design until 2011, when it was completely redesigned without any announcement.

            As far as suspension type being the same, yes same, as is the new 1500 Rams (and maybe crown Vic?), it’s a 5 point multi-link rear end, it utilizes coil springs/air bags vs the leaf springs that were being used in most other applications at the time.

          • 0 avatar

            When they released th H2 Gm told the auto jurnos it was based on the GMT 800 SUV’s so basically GM said it first. I agree a lot was changed to make it a true offroad vehicle and it is better than most people think. But really it is based on the 3/4 ton SUV chassis with some 1/2 ton bits thrown in. You could get the 4.10 gear in a suburban for instance.
            http://www.motortrend.com/roadtests/hummer/112_0010_hummer_h2/

            http://www.caranddriver.com/reviews/2003-hummer-h2-first-drive-review

            Basically Hummer your correct its not a tahoe with a new body. But the others are correct in saying it was a parts bin truck with some unique off road parts. Per GM.

          • 0 avatar
            Hummer

            Trust me I don’t have any problems with a GM parts bin truck. If I had to deal with Merecedes G wagon parts cost I wouldn’t be driving them(H2). For me I absolutely love the fact I can get cheap parts at every auto store in the country, and have access to extremely heavy duty parts built for Duramax sled-pullers.

            I figured you could get a 4.10 in suburban but the suburban also has a 5.3, I said Denali because it came with a 6.0 and I couldn’t see why it would need a 4.10.
            (Though if you do find an answer to this I would like to know)

            I don’t mind it being called similar to a 3/4 whatever, but mindlessly calling it a Tahoe/Yukon or based on said vehicle(s), is incorrect and implies it is no more capable than said vehicles. The funny thing is, no one calls a GMT800 Tahoe incapable offroad, but supposably it’s all of a sudden terrible when an H2 is mentioned.
            The double-standard is absolutely hilarious.
            Though I may display Masochistic behaviors to this sort of thing..

          • 0 avatar

            I believe you could get the 4.10 with the 6.0 on the 2500 suburban and with the 8.1 as well. I’ve been looking for one as a possible new tow vehicle (up to a 12,000 lb rating with the 8.1 and 4,10)

          • 0 avatar
            Hummer

            I would love a 8.1 suburban with 4.10s, talk about low end monster.

          • 0 avatar
            bumpy ii

            Be interesting to see if that combo is aero-limited or gear-limited in a Suburban.

    • 0 avatar
      Lie2me

      “This, I can tell, will be the “solution” for those who are compelled by peer pressures to own an SUV, but can’t cope with the dynamic “challenges” of driving an SUV.”

      Who can’t drive an SUV? It certainly isn’t skinny little blondes with cellphones stuck to their heads

    • 0 avatar
      John R

      Talk about getting caught up in minutiae…

      At the end of the day the H2 was a GM parts bin maelstrom that had nearly nothing to do with anything a Hummer short of being ASSEMBLED by AM General, but paraded as a Hummer.

      The point of the post was this. This GLE “coupe” is a farce not unlike how the H2 was a farce. Both are/were products made for people who could not deal with the unique challenges of owning the current/previous incarnations but still desperately wish(ed) to be fashionable.

      • 0 avatar
        Hummer

        Explain what is “anything a Hummer”, what makes an H2 somehow less than a Hummer, and what makes a compass somehow exemplar of the Jeep brand without strange unrelated incidences of being put down.
        The H2 has repeatedly proven itself a strong off-roader, and was tested on the same test track as the Humvee was tested in the late 70s to early 80s.

        The unique challenges that existed to owning a brand new H1 was the $130k price tag, otherwise the H2 wouldn’t have existed.
        The unique challenges that existed to prevent ownership of a Humvee were government regulations, nothing anyone could do to own a new Humvee, at all.
        I own 2 H1s I can say from experience the H2 is up to task.

        Additionally the comparison makes no sense, the G series wagon is an extremely expensive vehicle that requires extremely expensive repair parts, it’s been decontented from offroad use, but still uses the same basic design it originated with.
        An H2 was a cheap alternative that was designed to be just as capable as the original vehicle with very affordable parts, and used offroad accessories from the factory that most vehicles had to option up to get, or in some cases go aftermarket, it made no attempt in hiding it used different technologies to the required tasks.

  • avatar
    Mandalorian

    The G-Wagen is not going anywhere. If you count pre-production models, the G-Wagens will have been produced continuously from the release of A New Hope to Star Wars 7.

  • avatar
    petezeiss

    Why is this a Generation Why article?

  • avatar
    FreedMike

    LOL on Derek’s review of the G-wagen – I drove an AMG version as well, and it’s the worst thing I’ve ever driven, hands down. Imagine a NFL running back who can do a 4.0 40, but is too drunk to change direction without falling over…and there you have the G-wagen AMG. Mercedes should be ashamed of putting that magnificent engine in this wobbly, woozy, borderline-unsafe P.O.S.

    All yours for the low price of $137,000.

    Definitely a car for someone with way too much money to spend.

    • 0 avatar
      Hummer

      I’ve honestly never even been near one of these, is it Mercedes bad, Detroit pickup “bad(pre 1990),(1990-2006),(2007-current)”, or pre-traction control SUV 1970s bad?

      • 0 avatar

        They have serious diff locks and low geared transfer cases, also pretty good suspension travel as well as a tall body for visibility and utility. The original design spec most likely called for about a 70mph max speed. So given all that its no wonder making an AMG version was just a cash grab by MB with no actual purpose. They do make very cool offroaders. I have never driven one but have crawled in and under a few.

        • 0 avatar
          FreedMike

          Translation: on-road it handles like s**t, so the last thing it needs is to be radically overpowered.

          A $30,000 Jeep Wrangler drives FAR better, and while I’m no expert on off-roading, I can’t imagine it gives up all that much to the G-wagen.

        • 0 avatar
          Hummer

          I’ve heard they had both lockers, I would like to see under one, but they are far and few around me.
          Not sure if I like the design or not, some good tires, a slight 1-2 inch lift and I may be more decisive.

          I find it hard to believe at the cost but relatively simplistic design that Mercedes would have a harsh riding vehicle, but like I said, I have no idea.

          • 0 avatar
            dal20402

            You can guess a lot about the handling and on-road characteristics from the shape and dimensions. It’s very narrow by today’s standards, tall, has real off-road ground clearance, and shaped like a brick. So, yes, slightly oversized Bronco II is probably not a bad analogy.

            The only one I’ve ever been in is an old Euro-spec one, which was much more true to the off-road mission, so I can’t say how the modern US-spec bastardizations handle. What I can say is that the front brakes of G550 and G63/65 alike are too big to fit the right wheels for decent off-road tires, and that all of the blingy trim down low would promptly get scratched up off-road.

          • 0 avatar

            As I recall they had a center diff (in the transfer case for allwheel drive but with a locking option) as well as front and rear lockers. I was under a new one in a MB dealer a few years ago when working as an adjuster. I had also talked to an owner of one in a boat yard (a two door soft top grey market import) back in 90’s. And this past memorial day my Inlaws neighbor had someone over with a 80’s model with a 2″ lift and front and rear winches very cool.

      • 0 avatar
        rpn453

        Pre-traction-control SUV 1970s bad? I can’t speak for any others, but the Jeep Wagoneers I grew up with and learned to drive in were great vehicles for their time. They seemed especially sporty in the winter back when barely anybody had AWD. They were the quickest things on the road for four or five months of the year. Not a lot of body roll with full leaf springs either.

        I wish you could still buy vehicles that you can start up and immediately enjoy driving in winter conditions. Ones that don’t think they know what you’re trying to do better than you do, and strand you off-road in 2WD in the middle of nowhere because a wheel speed sensor wire failed. My buddy recently bought a new Dodge 1500 and is having a heck of a time trying to figure out how to permanently disable all the nannies while retaining cruise control functionality.

        • 0 avatar
          Hummer

          I meant as far as ride comfort, and to a degree stability at high speeds.
          No doubt great vehicles but I was trying to get an idea if it(the g wagon) was bad as a Mercedes or bad as in can’t match current competitors.

  • avatar
    PentastarPride

    I always thought of the G-wagen being out of place in the Mercedes lineup with its boxy, utilitarian design that doesn’t fit with the rest of the lineup. There’s some luxury appointments inside. It’s in the same category as a Hummer, and that’s not a good thing.

    On the other hand, I look at a GL and think it fits the M-B marque very well (especially the first-generation). I look at a G-wagen and wonder why its driver chose it over a GL. You just don’t take a Mercedes off road.

    The GL is something that will look sharp, formal and timeless 20 years later. That’s if the idiots who like the rubberband tires and tacky chrome appliques keep their hands off of them, but I’m not holding my breath.

  • avatar
    PentastarPride

    I always thought of the G-wagen being out of place in the Mercedes lineup with its boxy, utilitarian design that doesn’t fit with the rest of the lineup. There’s some luxury appointments inside. It’s in the same category as a Hummer, and that’s not a good thing.

    On the other hand, I look at a GL and think it fits the M-B marque very well (especially the first-generation). I look at a G-wagen and wonder why its driver chose it over a GL. You just don’t take a Mercedes off road.

    The GL is something that will look sharp, formal and timeless 20 years later (specifically, the first generation). That’s if the idiots who like the rubberband tires and tacky chrome appliques keep their hands off of them, but I’m not holding my breath.

    • 0 avatar
      CoreyDL

      The GL is awkward and van-looking, and has poor proportions, a poor interior, and looks generally cheap except in the most loaded version. Honestly, I don’t think you have any idea what you’re on about.

      http://photo.netcarshow.com/Mercedes-Benz-GL450_2006_photo_38.jpg

      Oh how formal, how timeless?

      Contrast time:

      Here’s an 88 G-Wagen.
      http://forums.pelicanparts.com/uploads6/1988+GE1129917496.jpg

      Here’s a 98.
      http://www.cars-directory.net/pics/mercedes/g-class/1998/mercedes_g-class_a1242659460b2701949_orig.jpg

      Here’s an 08.
      http://www.mercedesbenzcolors.info/wp-content/uploads/2011/05/2008-Mercedes-Benz-G-Class-G500-2.jpg

      Now, please learn what formal and timeless mean.

  • avatar
    redav

    This article reads like someone trying to impress an English teacher. It would read better without all the overinflated words/analogies.

  • avatar
    raresleeper

    Hell, I’ve always liked the older G-Wagens.

    I’d love to have a G-Wagen from the 80’s. Make it a diesel with those lovely cloth, or even vinyl, seats. (Plaid, IIRC).

    Unstoppable in the elements. Only problem is, the early ones fall victim to rust.

    Give me a no-nonsense older G-Wagen. To hell with the modern ones, with its navigation, bluetooth, ghetto-fabulous interiors, etc.

    This platform is just not designed for that. It’s out of place. Like your drunkard 55 year old aunt who dresses like she’s 17.

    Meh. There will be no shortage of trust-fund babies with their checks already made out for the $100K+ needed for the G-Wagon AMG monstrosities.

    “You mean 170k, right?”

    Whatever.

    • 0 avatar
      raresleeper

      By the way, since I’m already dribbling over antiquated, tractor-like vehicles, I’m taking it all the way there!!

      It’s Unimog, for the win, folks. :)

      • 0 avatar
        28-Cars-Later

        Incidentally, the Volvo 200 series is an antiquated tractor like vehicle.

        • 0 avatar
          raresleeper

          That, Sir, is part of its beauty.

          Three cheers for honest, utilitarian simplicity.

          And regarding older G-Wagens, you could spend a pretty penny one a clean, well-maintained version.

          …or just pick up a K-5 Blazer and spend a couple thousand or so less. Simplistic and utilitarian in nature, all the same. “Tractor-like” bliss.

          Avoid paying the weird G-Wagen niche premium.

          • 0 avatar
            28-Cars-Later

            I join you in praise as I drove mine today.

            I had it in the shop to remount a tire two days ago. My brother was with me when I picked it up and it stalled three times in the mechanic’s bay prior to my brother’s Fonzie knock to the dash as it finally started on the forth try. He asked me why do I put up with this “thing”. Because I like it i told him, its nearly perfect in so many ways other than multiport fuel injected reliability.

          • 0 avatar
            raresleeper

            @28:

            You know you’re an enthusiast when you come to enjoy those little brand-specific hiccups.

            Example: my 06 Accord v6 6-speed. I can literally *catch* the shifter when it decides that it doesn’t quite want to catch 3rd on occasion. No grind, quick throw to re-engage.

            Ahhhh… here come the warm and fuzzies.

          • 0 avatar
            28-Cars-Later

            I agree.

        • 0 avatar
          FreedMike

          “Incidentally, the Volvo 200 series is an antiquated tractor like vehicle.”

          Which probably explains why it hasn’t been in production for over 20 years now…but if you were able to drop the AMG engine in one of those, I’m going to wager it would be an infinitely better drive than the G-wagen.

    • 0 avatar
      petezeiss

      “your drunkard 55 year old aunt who dresses like she’s 17.”

      Ooh…

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