Soft spot for the G-wagon

Herald Sun - Motoring - - Prestige -

a civil­ian ver­sion we would be hold­ing a con­sid­er­able num­ber of or­ders.

‘‘We’re scop­ing that with Mag­naSteyr in Graz, Aus­tria.’’

Benz has won a ma­jor de­fence con­tract with the G-Wagon and is work­ing on a civil­ian ver­sion of the stan­dard four-wheel-drive model.

It will also re-in­tro­duce the lux­ury G-Wagon — com­plete with leather and wood in the cabin — early in the next year.

‘‘The first few ve­hi­cles, which are the G350 and G55, will be here some time in Novem­ber,’’ McCarthy says.

‘‘It’s very small num­bers. The first cars for cus­tomers will be in the new year.’’

McCarthy says the fo­cus is shift­ing to the po­ten­tial for ex­tra civil­ian sales.

‘‘The ve­hi­cles are suit­able for min­ing, farm­ing, fire­fight­ing, that sort of thing. We’ll have an eval­u­a­tion cabchas­sis and sta­tion wagon here soon and we’re talk­ing to Aus­tria about the six-wheeler,’’ McCarthy says.

The four-wheel drive is look­ing good, but it’s the full-on heavy ar­tillery which needs more work.

‘‘We’ve had dis­cus­sions with min­ing com­pa­nies and oth­ers, and they are very in­ter­ested in the ve­hi­cle,’’ he says. ‘‘But this is by no means a done deal. We need to make a busi­ness case.

‘‘We have to find out if they can make a civil­ian ver­sion at a price and spec­i­fi­ca­tion to meet the cus­tomers’ needs. It’s fair to say there is very strong in­ter­est in this ve­hi­cle.

‘‘Not just for its off-road abil­ity but for its dura­bil­ity, safety and its ca­pa­bil­i­ties. It’s a bit of a flex­i­ble plat­form, and there is lo­cal in­volve­ment in the body mod­ules, so there is huge po­ten­tial. We just need to make a busi­ness case.’’

The mil­i­tary six-wheeler is be­ing tested with the four-wheeler in Aus­tralia, Ger­many and Aus­tria so that de­liv­er­ies can start next year. The plan is to have 1200 in the Aus­tralian De­fence Force by the end of 2013.

Mean ma­chine: while the Aus­tralian De­fence Force tests the six-wheeled G-wagon (left), a civil­ian four-wheel G-wagon is on the way (above).

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