Old look and new tech equally im­por­tant


If you think the all-new G-class looks dif­fer­ent to the old one, Mercedes-Benz may not have done its job prop­erly.

The Three-Pointed Star’s long­est-serv­ing model has be­come equally fa­mous for its ar­chaic styling and ex­treme off-road abil­ity.

Its ap­pear­ance has not changed sig­nif­i­cantly since 1979, nor has its abil­ity to climb moun­tains - even though it has also evolved into a per­for­mance ve­hi­cle and fash­ion state­ment.

Case in point: the first ver­sion of the new G-class to be launched in New Zealand in the third quar­ter of this year will be the range-top­pingAMG­model.

As with ev­ery G-class, the door hinges are still on the out­side, the in­di­ca­tors are still prom­i­nent and the whole thing is still rather square.

The new model is larger than the old: 53mm longer and 121mm wider. The whee­larches and bumpers are now more in­te­grated into the body de­sign, while still look­ing pretty old-school.

Mercedes-Benz has also re­tained a tra­di­tional lad­der-type frame, with the fo­cus for the new model in im­prov­ing over­all rigid­ity and the con­nec­tions be­tween the driv­e­train and sus­pen­sion with that chas­sis.

The sus­pen­sion de­sign is new and the G-class has three sep­a­rate dif­fer­en­tial locks.

Mercedes-Benz says the goal was to im­prove the G-class’s han­dling both on and off-road.

The sus­pen­sion is a code­vel­op­ment be­tween Mercedes and theAMG­di­vi­sion: an in­de­pen­dent dou­ble-wish­bone front axle with a rigid rear axle.

The wish­bones are mounted di­rectly to the lad­der-frame, with at­tach­ment points as high as pos­si­ble. There is now 270mm of clear­ance to to the front axle gear.

The use of wish­bones has al­lowed a strut tower brace to be fit­ted for extra rigid­ity.

At the rear, the rigid axle is now con­trolled by four trail­ing arms and a Pan­hard rod.

Clear­ance be­tween axles is now 6mm greater at 241mm, max­i­mum ford­ing depth is up 100mm to 700mm and the G-class is sta­ble at a tilt an­gle of 35 de­gree (an im­prove­ment of seven de­grees).

De­par­ture an­gle is 30 de­grees, ap­proach 31 de­grees and breakover 26 de­grees. All are in­creases of one de­gree.

The use of high-strength steels and alu­minium (guards, bon­net, doors) has shed 170kg from the ve­hi­cle com­pared with the pre­vi­ous model.

Keep­ing the ex­te­rior door hinges as a styling state­ment re­quired extra en­gi­neer­ing!

Elec­trome­chan­i­cal steer­ing is now stan­dard, al­low­ing the fit­ment of such tech­nol­ogy as self­park­ing.

The in­te­rior also re­tains many tra­di­tional styling cues - al­though it’s packed with new-gen tech­nol­ogy.

Round di­als dom­i­nate the dis­plays, with a vir­tual in­stru­ment panel avail­able as an op­tion.

The touch­pad of­fers hap­tic feed­back, which means that driv­ers can use it with­out tak­ing their eyes away from the (off) road.

Novel cabin de­tails in­clude side air vents in the shape of the G-class’s iconic round head­lamps, in­di­ca­tor shapes in the au­dio speaker grilles - as well as retro­func­tional items like the pasen­ger-side grab-han­dle on the dash­board.

The Dy­namic Se­lect sys­tem in­cludes a "G-mode", which can cho­sen in­de­pen­dently of the con­ven­tional drive set­tings (in con­junc­tion with low-range and/ or any of the dif­fer­en­tial locks). It ad­justs the damp­ing of the steer­ing and chas­sis, and op­ti­mises the pow­er­train for hard-core off-roading.

If it’s all look­ing even more fa­mil­iar than ex­pected - that’s be­cause pic­tures of the new G-class were leaked last week, ahead of the of­fi­cial re­veal at the Detroit Auto Show. But as of now, it’s of­fi­cial.

Spec­i­fi­ca­tion de­tail and pric­ing for the NZ mar­ket will be an­nounced closer to launch later in 2018.

The cur­rent Mercedes-AMG G 63 sells for $253,900.

Squint and it’s still the 1979 model: up­right, round head­lamps, prom­i­nent in­di­ca­tors. That’s the idea.

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