An all-new version of the Mercedes-Benz G-Class will arrive at UK dealers in August, though you might initially fail to notice.
The second-generation of the traditional off-roader SUV looks on the outside very similar to the original model, launched way back in 1979 and a major rival to the Range Rover.
Mercedes insists, however, that “each part and every bolt came under scrutiny” during the design process for the new model, with the main focus on increasing the car’s rigidity, comfort and handling.
Retaining the traditional look, with its squared-off, angular lines and protective strips, was deliberate. The G-Class is one of the most recognisable SUVs on the road that appeals to a particular audience – one that needs a very durable, albeit luxury, vehicle. For this reason the model also retains its body-on-ladder-frame form of construction.
While familiar in its visuals, the new G-Class is a larger vehicle, 5cm longer and 12cm wider than its predecessor. Mercedes says that quality is significantly higher, with narrower panel gaps and areas such as the wheel arches flowing into the body, rather than appearing to be add-ons.
More fundamental changes have been carried out inside the car, with the emphasis on quality. While retaining the durable look of its predecessor, the interior is more comfortable. Rear-seat legroom, in particular, has been substantially improved by some 15cm thanks to a wheelbase extended by 4cm.
A major increase in technology features on the new model. While the redesigned driver’s instrument panel retains analogue dials as standard, a digital display is available on the options list. This combines with an infotainment display above the centre console in the form of two 12-inch screens to form a ‘widescreen cockpit’ already seen on recently launched Mercedes-Benz cars.
The base of the centre console includes a touchpad for driver inputs and there is a multi-function steering wheel, but traditional elements also remain, such as the grab handle mounted ahead of the passenger seat for additional stability when off-roading.
The designers of the G-Class claim that it is the most off-road capable version yet, Its ground clearance has been increased 4cm to 24cm, the fording depth raised 10cm to 70cm, and its tilt, approach and departure angles improved. However the changes also include a new trailing-trim rear suspension system around the rigid rear axle to provide greater ride comfort on tarmac.
Mercedes-Benz is yet to confirm G-Class models and prices for the UK market though it is predicted that the first version on sale will be the Mercedes-AMG G63, powered by a 4.0-litre V8 engine of 611hp and costing from around £140,000. Industry sources also expect an entry-level diesel version to be launched in 2019, at around £85,000 which would be £7,000 less than the current cheapest G-Class.