7 January 2005

Mercedes-Benz’s latest off-roader offensive will gain further momentum in 2006 with the introduction of an all-new G-class – the first for over quarter of a century. The rugged 4x4, codenamed X164, has been redesigned from the ground up to rival the Range Rover.

It will sit at the top a trio that also includes the recently revealed second-generation ML-class and the six-seat R-class MPV. All three cars share major componentry such as platform and drivelines, and will be assembled in the same factory in Tuscaloosa, USA. Unlike today’s 25-year-old G-class, which is only available on special order in the UK, the new one will be brought into the German car maker’s regular line-up, with prices likely to start at £50k.

And like its predecessor, which was developed to NATO specifications, the new model is being developed to excel in tricky off-road conditions. Merc officials describe its ability in the rough stuff as ‘breathtaking’ and claim it will set new benchmarks in the off-road class despite a kerbweight that’s said to be well over two tonnes. Larger in every dimension than the latest ML, the new G-class rides on the same 2980mm wheelbase as the long-wheelbase version of the R-class. Overall length is said to stretch to over 5100mm with width put at close to 1930mm. Mercedes is also working on a double-cab pick-up variant for the US.

The G-class engine line-up includes a four-valve-per-cylinder 168bhp 3.5-litre V6 and three-valve-per-cylinder 302bhp 5.0-litre V8 petrols, along with new 224bhp 3.0-litre V6 and 310bhp 4.0-litre V8 common-rail turbodiesels with particulate filters.

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