The wild Mercedes-Benz G500 4x4² has been confirmed for production following its unveiling in lightly veiled concept car form at the Geneva motor show.
Building on the sales success of the earlier six-wheeled G63 AMG 6x6, the G500 4x4² is planned to be produced alongside existing versions of the military grade G-Class, including the G350d, G500, G63 AMG and G65 AMG, at production specialist Magna-Steyr in Graz, Austria.
Mercedes-Benz says unanticipated interest from potential buyers has led to a decision that will result in open-ended production of the new G500 4x4², which is priced at €226,110 in left-hand drive guise and planned to reach showrooms in September.
The starting point for the extreme G500 4x4² is the standard G500. However, with a never-before-revealed production engine, based around the unit used by the Mercedes-AMG GT, a chassis that borrows heavily from that originally developed for the G63 AMG 6x6 and various bodywork tweaks, mean the two models are significantly different.
The G500 4x4² is powered by AMG’s new twin-turbocharged 4.0-litre V8 petrol engine – as used by the new C63 AMG and GT. Set to replace the existing 4.7-litre V8 in a raft of up-market Mercedes-Benz models, the new motor has been tuned to deliver 416bhp and 450lb ft of torque. This Euro 6 compliant engine is planned to replace up to three existing Mercedes-Benz V8 units when it goes into full-time production later in 2015.
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Drive is channelled permanently to all four wheels by a reworked version of Mercedes' seven-speed 7G-Tronic automatic gearbox, complete with a separate transfer case and the high and low-ratio gearing from the standard G500. There are also three mechanical differential locks that can be operated on the move.
Official performance figures are yet to be confirmed. However, Mercedes officials suggest it’ll crack 62mph from standstill in 6.5sec, run to a top speed of 130mph in combination with the optional 22-inch wheel and tyre package, and 100mph with the optional off-road rubber.
Key chassis tweaks are new dual-strut spring and damper units that bring adjustable damping control in two modes: comfort and sport. Mercedes claims the new set-up provides considerable kingpin offset that has allowed a large disparity in damping characteristics with switch times of just 15 milliseconds.
Following on from the G63 AMG 6x6, the G500 4x4² also receives a set of specially engineered portal axles in which the transverse tube is positioned above the centre of the wheel hub to provide 450mm of ground clearance. This is more than double that of the standard G500, which offers 210mm of clearance.
Mercedes also says the approach and departure angles have been increased from 36 and 27 degrees to a respective 52 and 54 degrees. The crucial breakover angle has also improved from 21 to 47 degrees, while wading depth is up from 600mm to 1000mm and the tipping angle increases from 28 to 30 degrees.
Further chassis changes centre around the width of the tracks. They have increased by a considerable 299mm both front and rear – going from 1475mm on the standard G500 to 1774mm on the G500 4x4².
Mercedes has also ditched the standard 18in wheels and 265/60 profile tyres in favour of new 22in rims shod with 325/55 rubber. Also available are off-road biased Huchinson beadlock wheels.
The wider tracks and upgraded wheels and tyres have brought carbonfibre extensions to the standard G500’s guards.
All up, the G500 4x4² is claimed to weigh 2996kg.
Mercedes has confirmed it has received more than 100 orders for the G63 6x6. Originally created as a marketing exercise in celebration of the 35th anniversary of the G-Class, the hulking great four-wheel-drive Merc has far exceeded earlier sales expectations, with strong interest from the Middle East, Russia and the US.
While confirmed in left-hand drive guise, Mercedes-Benz says there are no immediate plans for right-hand drive production of the G500 4x4². “The engineering changes required to alter it from left- to right-hand drive are quite extensive,” Mercedes-Benz spokesman, Christian Anosowitsch, revealed to Autocar. “It [right-hand drive] hasn’t completely been ruled out, but we will begin with left-hand drive.”
Mercedes' UK operations is assessing plans to make the wild new off-roader available on special order to UK based customers.