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WATCH | Mercedes G-Class reviewed

2019-09-19 11:27

Compiled by Janine Van der Post

Image: Wheels24

The Mercedes-Benz G-Class has cemented its reputation firmly since its been on the road since 1979, even though very little has changed in the last three decades. 

Yet the second generation of this classic, launched in 2018, has little in common with the original concept for this all-terrain vehicle, says the guys from Deutsche Welle.

"Geländewagen is the stuff of automotive legend", writes Lance Branquinho.

Here's what else he had to say about the beastly machine: Until the second-generation W464 model was revealed earlier in 2018, it had been on sale for nearly four decades with only incremental changes.

The legend of G-Class starts in the 1970s, when the Shah of Iran made a cursory suggestion to a Mercedes-Benz representative that it would be nice if they built something with 4x4 ability that wasn’t a Unimog.

READ: 'G-Class is the stuff of automotive legend' - How an Austrian Mercedes became a global SUV icon

One must imagine what the SUV market was like in the 1970s: Jeep Wagoneer, Ranger Rover and Land Cruiser 40-Series. The world’s most esteemed luxury vehicle brand could not be blamed for having to feign only passing interest in the matter.

The G-Class has always had off-road ability beyond any reproach, but its tall profile, relatively short wheelbase and antiquated steering system meant it was never intended as a high-speed cruiser.

Power behind the looks

AMG paid all these issues absolutely no mind and simply engineered a solution to fit its supercharged 5.4-litre V8 into a G-Class. The result was the G55 AMG, a 285kW high-performance SUV with Cold War military vehicle underpinnings.

Mercedes-Benz traditionalists were aghast, but the market enthralled, and AMG powered G-Class models have been enormously successful in the decade which followed.

The G55 upgraded to 373kW, before an even madder 6-litre twin-turbo V12 version was introduced in 2012, good for 450kW. What followed a year later was the 400kW turbocharged G63 and in 2013 Magna Steyr assembled a very limited edition of G63 6x6s, which will perhaps remain forever the ultimate double-cab bakkies. 

Finally, in 2018, the second-generation G-Class came into existence in SA. It might look much the same, but a host of mechanical upgrades make it a lot more comfortable to drive, especially at speed.

And speed is something it still does very well, as the 420kW new-generation G63 can attest to. And yes: they all still have three-locking differentials too. And a roomy enough cabin for you to drive around in a NATO issue infantry helmet, if you should want to. 

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