When the Mercedes-Benz Geländewagen (famously christened the G-Wagen and then, simply as the G-Class) was brought to life from sketch to design study in 1973, it was appropriately fashioned from wood and not clay — its extreme angularity would’ve proved too demanding for the amorphous material. When it was launched globally six years later, it was clearly meant for off-roading for both civilians and military personnel with features that abided strictly with the form-follows-function philosophy.
Now the G-Class wasn’t exactly a dream to drive, but as with contemporary off-roaders like the Range Rover, it didn’t take long before its menacing, no-nonsense good looks were noticed by the well-heeled, and the rest was history. As one of the first few purveyors of mass luxury vehicles, Mercedes-Benz wasted no time in adding a more upscale iteration to the lineup. The 463 model came with wood trim, leather seats and anti-lock brakes, and unsurprisingly, accounted for more than 70 percent of orders.
Many updates later, Mercedes-Benz has finally made good its word to seriously up the ante on the hunky favourite. Powertrains have come and gone, and its interiors have been swathed in a variety of fabrics, but if the pictures are anything to go by, the 2018 G-Class will finally be bestowed the major interior upgrade it’s deserved for a very long time.
This means that beyond the facade of a rough-and-tumble mountain masher, is a cushy inside that you’d never want to leave. Here’s what you can expect from the big G next year.
We’re going to address the elephant in the room here by pointing out that the G-Wagen was famous for many things but its technology wasn’t one of them. Alas, the S-Class will finally lend some of its gizmos to the off-roader this time, from semi-automonous functions to some of Mercedes’ sophisticated auto-butler systems. The S-Class steering wheel now sits with several auto-pilot functions on the spokes. Then there’s a fragrance ioniser, flush-fitted screens, and snazzy climate control buttons instead of old-school dials.
If you were born without elbows, perhaps the old G-Wagen would’ve been perfect for you. Thankfully, almost half a century later, Mercedes-Benz has finally decided to make a version for regular folks like you and me. A new platform means 4cm more legroom in the front and 15cm more at the rear. There 6.8cm more elbow room, and 3.8cm more shoulder room for the driver too. In keeping up with the times, Mercedes-Benz has also included more stowage compartments and 21st century must-haves for phones, chargers and sockets.
Trying to make a machine with the curvaceousness of a Rubik’s cube crumple elegantly when approaching a brick wall at speed isn’t a walk in a park, but that’s why engineers get paid so much. The grab handle on the dashboard has been immortalised as a classic G-Class feature and while proves useful in certain precarious situations, can also implode your passenger’s head should you incur a massive crash. Relax — Merc’s engineers have found a way to ensure the airbag fires around this rock-hard contraption. The doors are almost twice as thick as before so expect it to close with the same gracefulness of a bank vault’s.
The G-Wagen has a clientele many other brands would kill for, so it only made sense it catered to its demanding demographics. The cult German 4X4 will fulfil — or at least try to — most requests for the odd trim, paint job, leather or insignia via Mercedes’ Designo division. If you wish to expand those horizons beyond the superficial — think bigger powertrain, or even six wheels — they’re also open for a chat. The possibilities are almost endless.
There are shiny new things, 64-colour ambient lighting, and semi-autonomous features, but nothing should get you more excited than the appearance of the cupholders. Glorious cupholders. That’s one for the brochure.
Mercedes-Benz makes one of the snazziest dashboards around, and the new G-Class doesn’t disappoint with real (yes, real) metal everywhere. The signature triple locking differentials are still there — situated terribly incongruously in the center — and an indication that this machine is still a utilitarian workhorse despite looking prettier. The dash panel now runs from the outer-most air vents across the fascia, mirroring the exterior’s square-faced, round headlights look.