A tower of strength.
The G-Class stands like a monument in the early-morning mist in the French Alps, with its unmistakeable silhouette radiating a presence which is surely rare in car design. And after 33 years of history of this model, the G presents itself fitter than ever in La Clusaz, France. The ancestor and founding father of all Mercedes-Benz off-road vehicles leaves no doubt who is the boss of the off-road segment. Only very subtle alterations have been made to the distinctive features of this timeless Mercedes-Benz model. Die LED daytime running lamps and the new exterior mirrors are immediately apparent. They make the G-Class even nicer. They make little difference to the daunting appearance, and that is a good thing too, for there cannot be many models which 33 years on can claim to be loved more than ever by drivers.
The interior of the newest edition is irreproachable. In its 33 years of service, the G-Class has never been more luxuriously equipped. And very important for all G-Class enthusiasts – even in the interior, the newest model is still the G-Class despite all the modifications. The grab handle on the front passenger’s side, the central switches for the three differential locks as well as the 7G-TRONIC PLUS selector lever – placed quite deliberately in the centre console – remind us of the model’s history.
A powerful voice.
After the optical highlights have been examined, the potential pilot can’t resist the invitation from the G-Class to get in and climb the peaks ahead. The climb to the tops of the Savoy Alps this morning, through the early morning mists, is mastered by the G 500. The eight-cylinder engine with its 5.5 litres displacement responds to the turn of the ignition key with a solid bubbling sound. All eyes on the sparsely populated mountain roads turn to the G 500, its optics and its sound. During its morning journey, the G-Class encounters a herd of cows being led up the mountain, but this takes second place for all concerned, and there are shining eyes and open mouths everywhere.
You always feel safe and sound in the G-Class, thanks to a number of safety and support systems which aid the driver. To this end, Mercedes-Benz has endowed the G-Class with new electronics.
A test of courage.
Where others are left standing, the G-Class marches onward confidently, inspiring a great deal of respect. The Mercedes-Benz team have thought up a special task for the G-Class and its occupants: the steel construction is called “Iron Schöckl”; a name derived from a mountain just outside Graz in Styria. This iron mountain is used by Mercedes-Benz for test drives. The drive begins with a moderate 80 percent gradient. No problem for the eight-cylinder engine of the G 500. It even takes the 100-percent gradient smoothly, before stopping briefly at the highest point of the iron mountain, eight meters up in the air. As you look high up into the sky, this is how it must feel in the Space Shuttle just before take-off. There is another challenge on the way down: stopping on a 100-percent gradient and reversing back up the slope.
Now we continue with the G Professional. The first striking thing: this G is a pure off-road vehicle, in its most absolute and best form. Leather interior, climate control, navigation or the multitude of electronic assistance systems: there is none of that in the G Professional. There are only the bare essentials, and the G performs outstandingly off-road for it: with its mighty six-cylinder engine, three 100 percent differential locks, long shock courses for the springs and plenty of ground clearance. With this combination, even rugged rocks, slippery mud trails and gradients which would even be difficult on foot are all child’s play for the G-Class. With its three differential locks the power of the 3 litre engine is always available right where it is needed. Just keep your foot steady on the accelerator pedal, says the voice of the off-road instructor.
This might mean overcoming a few inhibitions at times, but all-in-all, the result is convincing. The G-Class tramps through the off-road course undeterred, giving the driver a vigorous shaking as it goes.
The V8 sound which is typical of AMG gives you goose bumps as soon as the engine is started. When Mercedes-Benz presents the new G-Class, the Mercedes-AMG top models must of course be there too. The final test drive in the G 63 AMG is one big adrenaline kick; the eight-cylinder engine pushes forward so powerfully and yet so gently that the countless bends seem to follow each other eagerly. And yet it uses around 15% less fuel than its predecessor. More bends and more climbs – that’s just about all you need to attain happiness with the G 63 AMG in the French Alps.
The G 63 AMG brings tears of joy to car-lovers’ eyes, but the G 65 AMG gives you a true rush of endorphins just from looking at the bare figures: twelve cylinders, six litres displacement, 612 horsepower and 1000 newton metres torque. Introducing the strongest series-production off-roader in the world.
Steeped in history.
In the course of its 33-year history, the G-Class has always been more than just a utility vehicle, as we can see by casting a glance into the history books of motor sport: Belgian racing driver Jacky Ickx piloted a near-series G-Class to victory in 1983 at the toughest rally in the world, giving Mercedes-Benz the triumph in the Dakar rally.
This cross-country vehicle, modified using only series-production parts from other models, impressively demonstrated its class at the most famous long-distance rally in the world.