Tough Merc slab is coming
Buyers will share with the army, writes NEIL DOWLING
THE slab-sided G-Class machowagon, including a hot AMG version, could soon be in Mercedes-Benz showrooms.
The G-wagon has been in Australia before, selling in small numbers in the 1980s because of its incredible off-road ability. It is returning now Mercedes-Benz has won an Australian Defence Force contract for a fleet of khaki G-wagons.
Certifying it for military use has opened the door to regular customers and Benz is considering two civilian models for Australia — possibly the diesel V6 and the G55 AMG.
‘‘We are investigating volumes and pricing to make a business case,’’ David McCarthy of Mercedes-Benz says.
There is no indication yet of prices to civilians.
The military G-wagons are sixwheel-drive versions, and most of the chassis work is contracted out to a firm in Newcastle, NSW.
The civilian G-wagons will arrive as 2009 models, with a new threebar grille and chrome surround.
Buyers will have a choice of three bodies: the short-wheelbase wagon, long-wheelbase wagon and ragtop. They will be powered by a 165kW/ 540Nm 3-litre V6 turbodiesel or 285kW/530Nm 5.5-litre V8 petrol.
The AMG version gets a supercharged 373kW/700Nm V8 petrol. There is a 5-litre V8 petrol for some commercial applications.
The wagon is no slug. The AMG is good for 0-100km/h in 5.9 seconds on to a top of 210km/h.
Only one transmission — Mercedes’ seven-speed sequential automatic — is available. It is mated to a two-speed transfer case with constant all-wheel drive.
The brick-shaped body, a legacy of the commercial application of the vehicle and its 30-year age, hints at the G-Class’s off-road ability.
It is also reflected in three electromechanical locking differentials that can be engaged on the move, the full ladder chassis, solid-axle front and rear suspension, recirculating-ball steering and high ground clearance.
All can climb a gradient of up to 80 per cent and tow 3200kg.
The G55 AMG will have 19-inch alloys, leather upholstery, burl wal- nut or maple wood trim, premium 10-speaker audio and a sunroof.
The G Wagon has seats for five adults. There is no third-row option.
It borrows luxury components from other Mercedes models. However, it is still regarded as noisy, has body roll and is awkward to get in and out of.