Mercedes-Benz’s iconic G-Class is about to receive its first full redesign since the nameplate’s launch.
Our latest spy shots and video reveal what appears to be the same boxy G-Class that’s been with us—in civilian form—since 1979, but if you look a little closer you’ll notice major differences. In fact, Mercedes tells us that the redesigned G-Class will have just one exterior part in common with its predecessor.
The prototype is significantly wider than the current G-Class, with our photographer telling us there’s close to 4.0 inches of extra girth. Elements like the windscreen, hood and grille are all noticeably wider than on the current model. Also new are the LED lights at both ends.
The wider body and corresponding wider track has been adopted in order to accommodate new suspension that aims to improve stability on and off the road while also improving interior space. At the same time, the new model’s body is shorter. This can clearly be seen in shots where both the prototype and existing G-Class are present.
Another key change should be the increased use of aluminum and high-strength steel in the construction to help reduce weight, possibly cutting the current model’s 5,665-pound curb weight by as much as 440 lb. There should also be the latest from the Mercedes technology portfolio including new driver-assist features, electronic power steering, and an advanced infotainment system.
Despite the changes, the new G-Class should remain as rugged as ever. For example, the ride height doesn’t appear to be changing and it looks like a live axle remains at the rear. We’d also expect a permanent four-wheel-drive system, reduction transfer case, and three differential locks to remain.
One of the main reasons for the design overhaul is stricter emissions regulations. Thus we may end up seeing some more fuel-efficient options in the powertrain department including a possible plug-in hybrid setup.
Mercedes’ new inline-6 engines are expected to be offered, though in the United States a V-8 engine should feature primarily. Of course, Mercedes-AMG options will still be on offer, as they currently account for more than 50 percent of G-Class sales worldwide.
2019 Mercedes-Benz G-Class spy shots - Image via S. Baldauf/SB-Medien
The new G-Class is expected to hit the market in 2018, as a 2019 model. Its arrival will coincide with the 40th anniversary of the G-Class nameplate. A new Land Rover Defender is due to arrive about the same time, thus keeping the rivalry between the ultimate utilities alive.
Despite its staying power, the G-Class came very close to meeting its demise only a few years ago. Mercedes had even launched final edition models in some markets and was ready to kill off the icon, but strong demand from the U.S., Russia and China—thankfully—persuaded the automaker to reverse course.
Note, Mercedes is working on two related models. One is a G-Class-based military vehicle dubbed the Light Armored Patrol Vehicle (LAPV). Another is a new compact SUV inspired by the G-Class and thought to be called a GLB.
Look for a reveal of the new G-Class during September's 2017 Frankfurt auto show. As mentioned earlier, sales won't start until sometime in 2018.