The new Mercedes-Benz G-Class : Design
Every G-Class must be put to the test on the Schöckl
by Jim Davis | 07 May 2018
The G-Class, the luxury off-road vehicle from Mercedes-Benz, has long been considered a design icon. Its external appearance has not changed significantly since 1979. Its unmistakable shape is its trademark, and together with its extraordinary off-road attributes this has made it the trendsetter in the off-road segment.
The aim behind the new G-Class is to make the elegance and high quality of the vehicle even more obvious, for an even more striking appearance. “The new G-Class is setting the bar higher still in all relevant areas – in terms of performance both on and off the road as well as with regard to comfort and telematics. Our ‘longest-serving’ model series is therefore ideally equipped to continue its success story. In short, the new ‘G’ is still a ‘G’, only better,” stresses Ola Källenius, Member of the Board of Daimler AG responsible for Group Research and Mercedes-Benz Cars Development.
The further evolved design of the G-Class follows the philosophy of Sensual Purity and at the same time remains true to the character of the original. The design once again confirms that this Mercedes-Benz off-roader is an icon, and that no other has the same, up-to-date on-road capabilities together with superior off-road capabilities. It is both hot and cool at the same time.
“The G-Class is the measure of all SUVs. We have given due deference to the character of this icon, and yet exercised puristic reduction to create the transition to modern luxury,” says Gorden Wagener, Chief Design Officer Daimler AG. The distinctive door handles and the characteristic closing sound, the robust exterior protective strip, the exposed spare wheel on the rear door and the prominent indicator lights remain typical features. Other typical G-Class features include the plain, rectangular tail lights, which are now contoured and mounted to the body.
The door hinges positioned on the outside and the surface-mounted bonnet are also carried over to the new generation. With the latest update, the off-road icon – which has been continually enhanced technically over the decades but visually has hardly changed – is making the leap into a new era – both in terms of technology and form. The new G-Class is 53 mm longer and 64 mm wider, and now has even greater presence, both on and off the road.
Tauter surfaces, precise transitions, intelligently conceived details
More than ever, the new G-Class appears to be cast from a single piece. All surfaces have a more taut design and are have more tension, while the surface quality has been taken to an even higher level. This results in narrower, more precise gaps and more harmonious transitions. In addition, the wheel arches and bumpers form a more integral part of the body and thus look less like add‑o n features.
Off-road capabilities were already incorporated into the design during the development of the first G-Class. A principle that has proved successful to this day. The chamfered sides of the square headlamps help to ensure that the body and headlamps are less susceptible to damage when driving on rough terrain or through narrow stretches, for example. All lighting functions including the daytime running lamps are integrated into single headlamp units. Customers have a choice between LED headlamps and high-resolution MULTIBEAM LED headlamps.
Distinctive grille meets an iconic spare wheel
The front section is characterised by the striking radiator grille in a three-louvre design with painted inlays and a large, central Mercedes star, steep A-pillars and a flat windscreen. The louvre carriers and inlays are individually styled depending on the equipment line, and e.g. painted in obsidian black. As optional equipment the inlays are available in high-gloss chrome. In this case the louvre carrier is in matt iridium silver.
Clear lines and large surfaces characterise the side view. The classic, short overhangs emphasise the balanced proportions of the off-roader. The side skirts, beltline and drainage strip take a parallel course. The side rub strip, which is semi-integrated like the tail lights, is just as functional and horizontal at the height of the door handles. On request this is available with pinstripes or in a striated or brushed aluminium look. Depending on the choice of optional equipment, running boards make access and egress easier.
Thanks to its wide track, a slightly trapezoidal rear window and prominent wheel arch linings, the G-Class appears very four-square when viewed from the rear. The rear fog lamp is integrated into the LED tail light. A large door hinged on the left carries the spare wheel and gives access to the luggage or cargo area. As a distinctive feature, the designers retained the external hinges on the rear door and all other doors.
The reversing camera is now positioned below the spare wheel, so that the driver has a clear view to the rear and can manoeuvre with millimetric precision. Unusual detail: for maximum reliability, the camera is waterproofed and therefore also protected against soiling; owing to the 100-millimetre increase in the fording depth of the new G-Class to 700 mm, it may be below the waterline in extreme cases.
The new, optional electric glass sliding roof not only gives pleasant ventilation to the interior, but also a view to the outside thanks to tinted glass. And should it start to rain, the roof automatically moves to the tilted position. In the event of an accident, the PRE-SAFE® system closes the glass roof if a rollover threatens.
Customers have a choice of eleven new exterior paint finishes, e.g. brilliant blue or designo mystic white bright. 24 paint colours are available, of which nine are metallic and 13 are designo manufaktur colours.
Interior: as luxurious as it is authentic
While the exterior maintains the iconic, classic look, the interior of the G-Class has undergone a fundamental modern redesign which reinterprets the genes of the classic vehicle to reflect the exterior. With its off-road character and top-class luxury appointments, the G-Class has always combined two extremes into a harmonious symbiosis. Unmistakable at first glance and from the first touch, only high-quality materials are used. Every detail is finished by hand with the utmost care.
Getting into the G-Class reveals that numerous design features from the exterior have been transposed into the interior. The shape of the round headlamps, for instance, which is reflected in the side air vents. Or the design of the iconic indicators, found again in the shape of the loudspeakers. The driver, co-driver and passengers in the second row benefit from the increase in width, and therefore the more spacious interior of the off-roader. Hallmarks of the G-Class include the grab handle in front of the front passenger and the chrome-highlighted switches for the three differential locks. Both have been further improved and retained as characteristic features. In an accident the front passenger airbag deploys above the grab handle.
The centre console benefits from the design freedom and has been completely newly configured to meet the functional requirements. The touch-sensitive Touch Controls on the steering wheel respond to swiping motions in the same way as the surface of a smartphone. They enable the driver to control the entire infotainment system without having to take their hands off the steering wheel.
The very clearly arranged and completely redesigned instrument panel features timeless tube-look analogue dials as standard. In other words, fans of classic round instruments will certainly not be disappointed in the new G-Class. As in the new E-Class and S-Class, an instrument cluster in the form of a large display showing virtual instruments in the driver’s direct field of vision and a central display above the centre console is available as an option. In this case the two 12.3-inch displays blend visually into a Widescreen Cockpit beneath a shared glass cover. Drivers can choose between three different styles for the displays – “Classic”, “Sporty” and “Progressive” – and also select relevant information and views according to their individual needs.
Thanks to haptic impulses and audible feedback from the on-board speakers, drivers can use the touchpad with controller in the centre console without taking their eyes off the road. The input options are rounded off by shortcut keys in front of the controller for frequently used operating tasks, and by the optional control panel for the driving assistance systems above the rotary light switch. The driver sits up close to the windscreen and enjoys good all-round visibility from behind the wheel.
Tasteful: high-quality materials
With its unmistakable character and high-quality appointments, the G-Class has always managed to combine off-road capability and luxury in a particularly harmonious way. Even in its standard specification, the G-Class’s timeless and authentic open-pore wood trim gives it an air of classical elegance. Its stylish details include the generous use of high-quality metal or carbon fibre trim, and its leather seats. The doors are very solid, clear evidence of that hallmark “G” functionality. A well-conceived stowage space concept with numerous stowage compartments e.g. in the armrest or in the rear doors ensures that everything has its place. There is now an illuminated compartment under the armrest for items such as a penknife or sunglasses. The adjustable backrest of the rear bench seat is free-standing for maximum variability. Ten adjustment stages from Comfort to Cargo allow maximum flexibility.
“Every G-Class must be put to the test on the Schöckl.” And this was the motto that headed the list of requirement specifications when it came to redesigning this classic among off-roaders. The Schöckl is the mountain just outside Graz in the Austrian state of Styria which Mercedes-Benz uses for test drives, and which every off-roader since the early development days of the “G” in the early 1970s has had to overcome. Which is why every “G” bears a certification mark in the form of a “Schöckl” on both sides at the base of its B-pillar.
The driver, co-driver and passengers benefit from the larger dimensions of the new G-Class. Legroom for the rear passengers has increased by 15 centimetres, and by 3.8 centimetres for the driver and co-driver.
The rear seats can be folded down to 60, 40 or 100 percent. The seats in the G-Class are equipped as standard with numerous convenience functions and are ergonomically designed, thus providing enhanced seating comfort and lateral support. Other features are e.g. the memory function for the front seats, front and rear seat heating and luxury head restraints in the front. This ride comfort can optionally be boosted still further with the Active Multicontour Seat package. In addition to the special multicontour seats, this encompasses such features as various massage functions, climate-controlled seats, and fast seat heating. This variant also offers electrically adjustable lumbar supports for the driver and front passenger. The side sections of the seat cushions and backrests of the active multicontour seats include integrated air chambers that fill or empty continuously depending on the driving dynamics, thus providing better support for the seating positions of driver and front passenger and, for example, offering more lateral support during cornering. The front seats of the Active Multicontour Seat Package are recommended by experts from the German spinal health organisation “Aktion Gesunder Rücken e.V.”.
Connectivity and digitisation using the latest technology is provided by the infotainment system COMAND Online included as standard. This begins with effortless integration of a smartphone into the onboard infotainment system. Phone calls can then be conveniently made via the Bluetooth® hands-free system.
Apple’s smartphone-based infotainment system CarPlay® and Google’s Android Auto™ can also be used with COMAND Online. If a corresponding smartphone is connected by USB, the customer can, if desired, switch to the CarPlay® or Android AutoTM interface.
COMAND Online offers fast 3D hard-drive navigation with topographical map display, 3D buildings and 3D map rotations. The system presents its content interactively and its features include an animated compass. COMAND Online uses the familiar traffic data service Live Traffic Information. This allows reception of up-to-date and precise traffic information in real time for an exact estimate of the time of arrival.
Audio playback is possible from various sources. For example via Bluetooth® or USB stick. COMAND Online also offers video playback and an integrated hotspot functionality for up to three mobile devices. It allows passengers in all seats to connect different WiFi-capable devices, such as laptop or tablet computers, to the internet.
Exquisite listening experience
The standard audio system features seven loudspeakers. The Burmester® surround sound system with 15 speakers and a 590 watt amplifier with Digital Sound Processing is available as optional equipment. The listening experience is particularly remarkable in the low bass range, which has especially good sound resolution.
Mercedes me connect: a direct connection to the vehicle
Under the name “Mercedes me connect”, Mercedes-Benz offers an extensive package of free standard services and Remote Online services via an on-board communication module. The range of services is being expanded continuously. The free basic services include Mercedes-Benz emergency call (eCall), Accident Recovery, Breakdown Management and Remote vehicle diagnostics.
The optional Remote Online services allow drivers to connect to their vehicle from anywhere and at any time e.g. by smartphone, to access vehicle information and to remotely activate a variety of functions. The range of functions includes remote door locking/unlocking and programming of the auxiliary heating. This works both with the Mercedes me app (available for iOS and Android) and via the Mercedes me portal (www.mercedes.me).
A further comfort highlight is the Concierge Service, which is now also available for the G-Class in conjunction with Mercedes me connect. Subscribed customers can take advantage of a number of individual services: from making a restaurant reservation to obtaining tips about tourist routes, information on cultural and sporting events and bookings through to sending navigation destinations directly to the vehicle.
Access is straightforward: registered Mercedes me connect users can call up the Concierge Service in 20 countries across Europe, either via the iCall button in the vehicle or using the Mercedes me app. The personal concierge takes care of everything else.