The Mercedes G-class has been revealed at the Beijing motor show, with company bosses vowing the military grade off-roader, which has just entered its 33rd year of production, will continue to be part of its product line-up for many years to come.
"The Mercedes G-class is at the top of all off-road luxury vehicles, and it is now seen as an icon," said G-class director of product line Axel Harries. "It is the godfather of all Mercedes off-road vehicles, and we see the group of potential customers growing every day.
"It is back on the radar and seen as cool, so that is why we see further potential with this vehicle - in 2011 we sold 6600 cars, our best sales year for seven years. People ask us how long we can build this vehicle and my message to you is that the legend lives on. There is no run-out date and no reason to try and think of one."
The reworked G-class is planned to go on sale in the UK in June boasting a series of subtle exterior styling tweaks, a new range of engines mated to an updated seven-speed gearbox, a lightly altered interior and a brace of new electronic driver aids.
Among the changes made to the G-class’s classic square rigged exterior is a restyled grille with standard models receiving three prominent slats in place of the older model’s seven slats, new headlamp inserts featuring horizontally mounted LED running light, redesigned mirror housings, altered tail lamp graphics and a new line of alloy wheels.
In the UK just two G-class models will be sold: the G350 BlueTec for just under £90,000 and the G63 AMG, which will cost around £110,000. The former is expected to account for around 70 per cent of UK sales.
However, in other markets a G500 and G65 AMG performance flagship will be offered. All are assembled at Mercedes-Benz partner Magna’s factory in Graz, Austria.
The two new AMG models are visually distinguished from their standard siblings by a two-slat grille, a deeper front bumper with larger air ducts, red brake callipers and unique 20-inch wheels. As with the outgoing G55 AMG, the G63 AMG also receives side mounted exhaust pipes that exit from underneath the rear doors on either side.
Both of the G-class’s standard engines are retained for the 2012 model year, including the 383bhp naturally aspirated 5.5-litre V8 and 208bhp 3.0-litre V6 common rail diesel in the G500 and G350 BlueTec respectively.
Further up the line-up, the 12-year-old G55 AMG’s long running 500bhp supercharged 5.4-litre V8 finally makes way for a 544bhp version of AMG’s contemporary twin-turbocharged 5.5-litre V8 engine in the new G63 AMG.
The big news, however, surrounds the addition of a plush new G65 AMG range-topping model to the G-class line-up. It runs an earlier evolution of the twin-turbocharged 6.0-litre V12 engine recently confirmed for the SL65 AMG. With 612bhp, it is described as the most powerful series production four-wheel drive on sale right now.
The G65 AMG is the first G-class model to ever receive V12 power but it will not be officially sold in the UK.
All new G-class models also receive Mercedes’ seven-speed 7G-tronic gearbox, with the unit on the G63 AMG benefiting exclusively from stop-start along with brake energy recuperation systems that contribute to a combined average consumption of 20.5mpg – a 2.7mpg improvement on the outgoing G55 AMG’s 17.8mpg.
Drive is channelled permanently to all four wheels with a trio of differential locks providing added traction in the rough.
Other upgrades brought to the G-class is a revised instrument pack brought over from the third-gen M-class together with a colour monitor and Merc’s latest Comand system that incorporates internet based functions.
Further options include Mercedes-Benz’s hi-tech Distronic Plus radar controlled cruise control system, Blind Spot Assist and the parking aid Partktronic, which now incorporates a reversing camera. The standard ESP (electronic stability program) has also been revised and now includes Trailer Stability Assist and a hill hold function.
The facelifted G-class will continue to be offered with the choice of two different wheelbases: 2400mm in standard guise and 2850mm in long-wheelbase form. The quirky cabriolet is also set to continue, but only in combination with the standard 383bhp 5.5-litre V8 engine as the G500 Cabriolet.