MAC (MUSEUM OF ART & CARS)
Engine: Power: Torque: Transmission: 0-100 km/h: Top speed: Price:
4-litre V8 turbo 310 kw 610 Nm 7-speed auto 7.4 seconds 210 km/h €246,000 (Available in Germany)
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The Mercedes-benz G500 4×4² is living proof that German engineers do have a sense of humour. When I first saw a video of the monstrous yellow-green ‘baby 6×6’ ploughing through the stark Icelandic countryside, I wanted to experience this über-g myself.
However, I was in for a surprise, because during my pilgrimage to Germany to meet the monster truck, I was also introduced to the madcap E-class All-terrain 4×4² – a one-off concept inspired by the extreme G500 4×4² and built by a team of design engineers with a love for off-roading.
Jürgen Eberle, with his wireless glasses, looks rather more like a clever scientist than a Dr Frankenstein or an intrepid G wagon adventurer. The 40-year-old designer of the E-class All-terrain studied vehicle technology at Karlsruhe University of Applied Sciences and joined Mercedes-benz in 2008. Fascinated by the humungous G500 4×4², he started investigating the possibility of adapting the portal axles of the monster G-wagon for use on the recently introduced E-class All-terrain station wagon.
While G-wagons have rigid axles, the E-class has a modern multi-link suspension setup. It took a tremendous amount of work, with lots of assistance from other departments, for the ambitious project to be realised.
I met Eberle after a quick trip in the Big G from Stuttgart to Biberach an der Riss with my photographer friend Dirk Weyenmeyer. He was standing next to his creation; the afternoon sun accentuating the matte silver and black foil that was wrapped around the butch E-class wagon.
Apparently, the whole venture started out with a small 38 mm suspension lift and some extra body cladding on an E-class All-terrain. What created the characteristic enormous ground clearance and impressive off-road abilities was a decision by Eberle to use portal axles – an engineering marvel that makes the Unimogs such formidable off-roaders. Unlike conventional axles, the wheels are not at the height of the axle centre, but are instead situated much further down on the axle head, owing to the portal transmission.
Eberle and his team of 20 adapted the portal axles for the All-terrain by replacing the standard suspension bushings with Uniball motorsport bearings, while a colleague working at AMG modified the driveshaft geometry to make it compatible with the off-road modifications of the car. Struts were