How has Mercedes brought the G-Wagen up to date?
It must have been tempting to increase the rake of the windscreen – less wind noise, more space for the vast digital dials embedded in the dash – but the change amounts to less than a single degree and so the fantastically elevated, abrupt view from the front seats remains. Similarly, the hinges of the doors remain visible, and much of the opening and closing mechanism has been carried over so owners can continue to enjoy that richly mechanical crunch.
That’s precisely the sort of thing that matters to so many of those prepared to hand over the best part of £150,000 for a car built by hand at the Magna Steyr plant in Graz, Austria. No surprise, then, that the bonnet-mounted indicators also remain, despite costing five times as much to develop as originally planned. Mercedes has modern safety regulations to thank for that; they stipulate the housing must be deformable from any angle and the light emitted be visible from road level less than a metre from the front of the car.
Your passenger will continue to enjoy the security of a broad dash-mounted grab-handle, too, though this being 2018 it’s now inlaid, most likely with carbonfibre. All occupants will also benefit from substantially more leg and shoulder room than before, as will those perched on the spacious rear bench. Step from the old W463-generation car and into the new one and the growth spurt is palpable, and in fact the new car has grown in every dimension, now being 53mm longer, 64mm wider and 15mm taller than before.
The other fundamental change to the G-Class is found within the interior. The architecture retains an old-school feel with its squared-off panels, but that’s juxtaposed against two 12.3in displays mounted side by side. There are various parts borrowed from the Mercedes E-Class, but it all feels suitably opulent, not to mention comfortable.
Ultimately there’s little here to upset the design junkies (moreover, this car looks far more convincing in the metal than in the pictures), though it is the driver who stands most to gain from the wholesale changes Mercedes has wrought.
With the help of a new brace that links the front suspension turrets, the torsional rigidity of the ladder frame and body shell has increased by more than half. The G-Class has historically been guided by a low-geared recirculating ball set-up so infamously indirect that, having only just turned the nose of the car in, you’d need to begin unwinding the lock simply to avoid running horrifically wide on exit. Owners have long held complaints on this score, and so there’s now electromechanical rack-and-pinion steering.