Road Trip - - ROAD READY -

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

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