Mercedes reinvents iconic G-Wagen

It looks the same but underneath it's all-new. But is the unique DNA and soul of the original all-conquering Mercedes-Benz G-Class still present?

Mercedes-Benz may have introduced new technology and tweaked the design, but the styling and DNA of their new G-Wagen is the perfect spiritual successor to the 1979 original.

Developed as a military vehicle from a suggestion by the Shah of Iran, a significant Mercedes shareholder before his death in 1980, the G-Wagen (or G-Class) boasts an impressive backlog of adventure and military use. Capitalising on this imposing image, the striking new G-Wagen is oozing with heritage – although the technology on offer trumps anything from even the brightest minds of the 1970s.

On first look, not much appears to have changed from the previous generations; enthusiasts have breathed a sigh of appreciation, with Mercedes smart enough to realise that messing with such an iconic shape would be disastrous for their public stance. The main difference is purely in size, the new incarnation being 53mm longer and 121mm wider – but 170kg lighter.

What has changed can mainly be found on the interior, with the extra dimensions providing improved space and amble legroom – a particular flaw on older examples. The weight saving also assists in providing extra grunt, the 4.0-litre twin-turbo V8 propelling the lighter frame along with 416bhp. Off-road obstacles won’t stand a chance with this power.

Within the cabin, the seats encompass an ‘Active Multicontour Seat Package’, providing a massage as you drive, as well as heating or cooling the inhabitant depending on the outside temperature. Virtual instruments replace the old-school analogue display, and an optional central display above the centre console can open out into a ‘Widescreen Cockpit’.

Compared to the last model, the interior has enjoyed a thoroughly modern makeover – with the odd touch harking back to the genesis creation, the passenger grab handle being one such example.

Off-road ability has also been enhanced with a new suspension system, offering ground clearance of 270mm. This set-up is the result of collaboration between Mercedes’ G and AMG divisions, with optional adaptive damping detecting changes in surface to automatically set appropriate ride characteristics.

Furthermore, a new ‘G-Mode’ is automatically triggered once any of the three differential locks are activated – or low range is engaged. Adapting the adjustable damping for chassis clearance, alongside steering and accelerator to avoid unnecessary loss of traction, the amount of control during off-road travel is now second to none.

Although deliveries will start for summer 2018, UK prices have not yet been made available. Expectations predict a starting price of £95,000.

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