2019 Mercedes-Benz G-Class - The Next Favorite Ride of Beverly Hills
The Mercedes-Benz G-Class, aka the G-Wagen or Geländewagen, is an automotive oddity. The current generation rides on a platform that predates your humble author, yet it remains a favorite of celebrities from Beverly Hills to the Meatpacking District. It also offers up a level of off-road capability that few other SUVs do.
We all know it’s a niche vehicle due to its hefty price tag, and it’s cool in part because of, not in spite of, its flaws. Mercedes-Benz could probably let it carry on with minor changes in perpetuity. It could also kill it completely, and save for an outcry from the die-hards, the absence of the G-Class likely wouldn’t hurt the brand a bit. Remember – the GL-Class was supposed to replace the G-Wagen.
Full disclosure: Mercedes-Benz invited us to see the G-Wagen revealed in a historic Detroit theater that stands on the space in which Henry Ford built his first car. They gave us booze and brought Arnold Schwarzenegger out to speak.
Mercedes-Benz sells merely a handful each year, yet the G-Wagen’s cool factor compelled the brand to take the wraps off under the extra-bright spotlight of the North American International Auto Show – with an assist from the Terminator himself.
“Redesign” has a different meaning when applied to the old-school G-Wagen, and it maintains many of its key aspects, such as a ladder frame and low-range gear. The biggest mechanical/technical changes include a new nine-speed automatic transmission, new independent front suspension, more interior room, an overall increase in size, and more passenger legroom at all seats.
It continues to three fully locking differentials. Power comes from the carryover 4.0-liter twin-turbocharged V8 (416 horsepower and 450 lb-ft of torque) and naturally the G-Class remains all-wheel drive.
It’s unclear if one can call this a full “redesign” – MB claims all but three parts are new, however the exterior design changes are mild and, as mentioned, the frame remains a ladder type.
The G-Wagen sheds 170 kilograms (almost 375 pounds) and MB says it can wade in water up to 700 millimeters deep, which is about 27.5 inches.
Asked about whether there’d be an electric version, all Dr. Dieter Zetsche would say is that since Mercedes has an electrification strategy, it’s a safe bet that the G-Wagen would be electrified in some way at some point in the near future (my guess: Some sort of hybrid setup, possibly a “mild” hybrid).
Pricing hasn’t been announced, but it’s sure to be a pretty penny. As befits a luxury SUV, standard and available features include sunroof, heated steering wheel, 19- and 20-inch wheels, traffic-sign assist, keyless starting, adjustable suspension, adjustable damping, heated and cooled seats, massaging front seats, COMAND infotainment, and premium audio.
In other words, the usual.
Up close, the biggest change is the much-improved interior. It will take an expert’s eye to spot the exterior differences – and Mercedes intentionally left certain notable aspects, like the turn-signal lights, more or less alone – but the interior differences are obvious.
The G-Wagen remains the same as it ever was: an expensive luxury SUV more likely to be seen cruising down Sunset than ferrying people to mountains with sunset views. This, despite being built to be superbly capable.
Mercedes still won’t sell many, but the brand won’t care as long as celebrities get spotted rolling up to the spot in G-Wagens on TMZ. Once again, same as it ever was.
Letting the days go by.
[Images © 2018 Tim Healey/TTAC]
Tim Healey grew up around the auto-parts business and has always had a love for cars — his parents joke his first word was “‘Vette”. Despite this, he wanted to pursue a career in sports writing but he ended up falling semi-accidentally into the automotive-journalism industry, first at Consumer Guide Automotive and later at Web2Carz.com. He also worked as an industry analyst at Mintel Group and freelanced for About.com, CarFax, Vehix.com, High Gear Media, Torque News, FutureCar.com, Cars.com, among others, and of course Vertical Scope sites such as AutoGuide.com, Off-Road.com, and HybridCars.com. He’s an urbanite and as such, doesn’t need a daily driver, but if he had one, it would be compact, sporty, and have a manual transmission.
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