“The G is still a G,” states Mr G himself, the aptly named head of Mercedes G-Class, Gunnar Güthenke, talking about the second-generation, near-identical-to-the-old-one SUV revealed last month.
The G-Class has been around since 1979 and is now synonymous with affluent, nouveau-riche buyers who choose to pimp their SUVs in the most ludicrous of ways – which is the reason why there was sufficient demand to justify models such as the six-wheel-drive G 63 AMG 6x6.
It’s also why Mercedes managed to turn the G-Class from a workhorse into a luxury SUV, in the process making it profitable enough to remain in its line-up – something that long-time rival Land Rover failed to achieve with the Defender.
Güthenke has been in charge of the G-Class since 2014, when the SUV’s sales had been rising for five years – so much so that Mercedes was convinced to make a large investment and develop a second-generation model following 39 years of mild updates that ensured it wasn’t utterly out of date.
“Every five to seven years there were upgrades to the interior of the G-Class, but there were certain recurring customer demands, such as better steering, which had been requested for quite a long time,” explains Güthenke.
He diplomatically admits there were different views on the look of the G-Class Mk2 between the team responsible for the SUV and Mercedes’ design team headed up by Gorden Wagener. In the end, the new G-Class, revealed at the Detroit motor show last month, stayed true to its original styling. That will ensure, it is hoped, that legions of existing buyers will remain faithful to it.