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2018-05-08 08:46

Sergio Davids

Germany - The Mercedes-Benz G-Class has long been considered an iconic 4x4; Its external design has not changed significantly since 1979. 

In 2018 however, Mercedes’ longest-serving model series receives a new generation, packed with new technology, improved off-road capability and few design tweaks.

In terms of 4x4 prowess, it gains a new suspension, dynamic driving modes, a "G Mode" and three differential locks. The new G-Class is 53mm longer and 121mm wider.

Ola Källenius, Member of the Board of Daimler AG, said: "The new G-Class is setting the bar higher still in all relevant areas – in terms of performance both on and off the road as well as with regard to comfort and telematics. Our 'longest-serving' model series is therefore ideally equipped to continue its success story. In short, the new 'G' is still a 'G', only better."

Headed for South Africa 

Local fans of the G-Class can expect the new 4x4, in awesome AMG-guise, later in 2018.

According to Mercedes-Benz SA: "South Africa can expect the Mercedes-AMG 63 model in the third quarter of 2018. Additional models may follow in 2019."

The new G-Class benefits from a number of new features such as LEDs, driving assistance systems, a high-quality interior with leather seats, and new suspension. South African specification to be released closer to its local launch date.

New AMG G 63

With the new Mercedes-AMG G 63, the G-Class has undergone the greatest change in its history.

The AMG 4.0-litre V8 biturbo engine replaces the previous 5.5-litre V8 biturbo engine in the G 63. It generates 430kW and 850Nm and is mated to a AMG speedshift TCT 9G transmission.

The V8 is capable of propelling the SUV from 0 - 100km/h in 4.5 seconds. This dynamic performance is maintained up to the limited maximum speed of 220km/h, or 240 km/h with the AMG Driver‘s package. The combined fuel consumption is 13.1 litres/100km, and the combined CO2 emissions 299g/km.

The standard-specification AMG Performance 4MATIC all-wheel drive features rear-biased torque distribution with a front/rear split of 40 to 60%.

The off-road gear can be engaged via the low range switch at speeds of up to 40km/h. It is possible to switch from low to high range at speeds of up to 70km/h. 

Driver can choose between three different characteristics, via a switch on the centre console, namely Comfort, Sport and Sport+

There's no denying the G-Class is an iconic 4x4 but assuming you’re not conducting a UN peacekeeping mission or an Oligarch, why would you purchase one? In short, the G-Class makes molehills out of mountains; it's a true "go-anywhere off-roader" that benefits from loads of added creature comforts.

Fans will be well pleased to see it retains its boxy shape, ladder chassis and live rear axle. It retains its considerable off-road credentials and gains a host of additional 4x4 tech such as hill-assist, 360 cameras and auto hill descent. 

There are three differential locks for tackling any kind of terrain and low-range transfer case to make short work of steep descents.

As an everyday road car, however, it's surprisingly comfortable on tarred surfaces but its bulk will limit its city-driving practicality. 

Off-road figures:

Slope climbing ability of up to 100% on suitable surfaces
Ground clearance between axles - plus 6mm, now 24.1cm
Maximum fording depth now 70cm (an additional 10cm)
Stable at tilt angles of 35°, plus 7°
Angle of departure: 30°, angle of approach: 31°, plus 1°
Break-over angle: 26°, plus 1°

If tackling mountain passes is more your style, the fiery-breathing AMG, bound for SA, will put a smile on any petrolheads face.

The AMG G 63 is capable of rocketing the huge 4x4 to 100km/h in a head-snapping 4.5 seconds. The V8 sounds dirty, angry and each tap of the accelerator is downriight intoxicating. The performance on road is staggering for a vehicle of its size - you'll want to push it but need to be mindful of its size especially when cornering. 

The design has lots of throwback touches such as the indicator lights positioned along the LEDs and its retro door handles. Inside there are many elements borrowed from its E-Class and S-Class siblings such as its centre console and dials. The AMG's red leather touches can be a bit much for some.

Overall, it's a 4x4 that manages to retain everything that made its legendary predecessor great and refine the G-Class for a new generation. Mercedes engineers have improved it's already immense off-road capabilities and radically improved its drivability and functionality. 

Retro touches

Iconic elements continue in the latest G-Class; the distinctive door handles (and the characteristic closing sound), the robust exterior protective strip, the exposed spare wheel on the rear door and the prominent indicator lights. 

While the exterior maintains a classic look, the interior of the G-Class has undergone a fundamental modern redesign. 

Hallmarks of the G-Class include the grab handle in front of the front passenger and the chrome-highlighted switches for the three differential locks. Both have been further improved and retained as characteristic features. 

The redesigned instrument panel features timeless tube-look analogue round dials as standard.

As in the new E-Class and S-Class, an instrument cluster in the form of a large display showing virtual instruments is available as an option.

In this case the two 12.3” displays blend visually into a Widescreen Cockpit beneath a shared glass cover. Drivers can choose between three different styles for the displays – "Classic", "Sporty" and "Progressive" – and also select relevant information and views according to their individual needs. 


The new "G-Mode'

One of the prerequisites for the improved off-road handling characteristics is the new "G-Mode". The G-Class changes to "G-Mode" independently of the chosen driving mode as soon as one of the three differential locks has been activated or the low-range has been engaged.

According to Mercedes-Benz: "This off-road mode adapts the adjustable damping of the chassis and the steering as well as the accelerator characteristic, avoids unnecessary gear shifts and thus ensures optimum control and maximum off-road capability."

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