New, lighter G-class to have more interior space but keep its iconic looks alongside new engines with 360bhp

The Mercedes-Benz G-class will undergo extensive changes in the coming years, with a facelift to the 35-year-old model so major that Mercedes says it will in effect be a new car when it goes on sale in 2017.

The big push is to increase the car’s width for greater stability, to accommodate new front suspension and to liberate greater interior space for new, broader seats front and rear, while maintaining the character and iconic look of the current model.

“We have to be careful with our heritage,” says Mercedes SUV boss, Andreas Zygan. “We offer something really special. Last year - the 34th - was the best ever for G-class sales. It’s amazing, and one of our idols.”

The codename for the G-class remains W463, but the structure is being extensively reworked. More aluminium is being added and it is being made around 100mm wider, taking the width of the car to around 1860mm.

The change to the structure is also being made with a view to slashing the kerb weight; a reduction of more than 200kg is being touted by insiders. The current G350 weighs in at a hefty 2570kg. 

The G-class’s new front suspension will use a three or four-link set-up, while a more modern electro-mechanical steering system is also being fitted. 

The exterior design will retain the right-angled looks of today’s car with a near-vertical windscreen. Some inspiration could also be taken from the futuristic Ener-G-Force concept car from the 2012 Los Angeles motor show. Insiders said it not only previewed the new GL but possibly also the next G-class.

The interior overhaul will focus not only on increasing space but also comfort and quality, with interior fittings from the C-class set to make it into the venerable off-roader. 

Technology levels will also be increased, with features such as LED lights and more driver assistance and safety systems set to be fitted.

The engine range will include the new 3.0-litre, in-line six-cylinder petrol (codenamed M256) and diesel (OM656) motors that Mercedes is working on ahead of their debut in the 2016 E-class.

In the G-class, a petrol unit with more than 360bhp and a diesel producing over 300bhp are being touted. The engines will be paired with Mercedes’ new nine-speed 9G-Tronic automatic gearbox as standard, resulting in vastly improved economy.

Range-topping AMG variants, which account for half of all G-class sales, are set to follow the launch of the standard models.

Luxury focus for next GL-class

The next-generation Mercedes GL-class, previewed by 2012’s Ener-G-Force concept, is set to morph into a full Range Rover rival in 2018, with a big push on luxury and refinement and the addition of a long-wheelbase variant.

Mercedes has noted the trend for super-luxury SUVs like the latest Range Rover and upcoming Bentley Falcon and intends to pitch the next GL right into the heart of this growing segment.

The bigger and even more luxurious long-wheelbase GL could take the Pullman name to represent its premium positioning. The badge is also set to be used on longer, plusher versions of the Mercedes S-class to replace the axed Maybach range. 

The next GL could also form the basis of a new Aston Martin Lagonda SUV as part of the deal between Mercedes and Aston.

Our Verdict

The Gelaendewagen is Mercedes' take on the rugged, boxy Land Rover Defender

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Comments
5

4 May 2014
Take note Land Rover. The next Defender has to stay looking like a Defender. ( But you can widen it. )

4 May 2014
Time stands still with the Mercedes G-Class.

4 May 2014
There was some rumours about a small version based on the A platform and a possible GA45 AMG- that would be nice!

Madmac

4 May 2014
concinnity is bang on. Landrover have no idea what icon they have in the Defender. They keep putting wheezy 4 cyl diesels in it and folks still love it, at least in the UK. But folks in the US and rich Asian markets do not want a wheezy diesel farmers trucks. What it needs is a premium v6 diesel (check out the article on the twisted 3.2 vehicle) and a direction change upmarket. Folks who buy top end G wagens do not a give a rats about handling, refinement, fuel economy etc...It is the image and the coolness of driving a real 4X4. A 4X4 with real heritage. No commercial farmer buys Defenders anymore, they buy reliable capable Japanese pick ups. Folk who buy Defenders are rich country sets types (Kirsty Allsop etc....) wanting to project an image (Scottish power buy a few though). I fear Landrover will miss a trick with this DC100 nonsense, the Defender nameplate is gold. As for autocars quote "The Gelaendewagen is Mercedes' take on the rugged, boxy Land Rover Defender". Get real, the G wagon is streets (sorry rough tracks) ahead of the Defender. I should know I own a defender 90! Apart from its charm and looks it has very little else going for it....I'd swap it for a Patrol or a G wagen in an instant!!!

7 May 2014
Mercedes already updated the G-Class a decade ago and called the result the GL-Class. And how much front crush space will be lost to a straight six? Mercedes withdrew the G65 from the US market because its V12 does not leave enough crush space.

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