Last night Mercedes-Benz officially unveiled the 2018 Mercedes-Benz G500. We did already cover the new G extensively in the last couple of weeks including our take on the new interior, video of our first ride on the legendary Schöckl and last but not least the official information and photos released yesterday.
But talking to some of the people directly involved in creating the most radically changed G-Class in three decades we learned a bit more about the new G. First of all a lot was said during the 30 odd minute official unveil at the Michigan Theater last night. Things got interesting when Arnold Schwarzenegger was invited on stage at the end of the presentation and quickly thereafter hijacked the presentation. He asked Dr Zetsche directly about the possibility of an electric G-Class. Zetsche replied Daimler is committed to electrifying the entire range without specifically saying a full-electric G-Class is in the works. However multiple sources confirm a plug-in hybrid version of the new G-Class is in the works. \
Talking about powertrains it is good to know that the G500 4.0 liter V8 version is not the only engine variant of the new G. We are expecting the new G63 to see the limelight at this year’s Geneva Motor Show with first customer deliveries expected somewhere around August (around June for the new G500). Following the AMG version we can expect a diesel- and the aforementioned plug-in hybrid variant of the G-Class.
Than there is the design. Browsing through the hundreds of comments and messages we have received in the last 12 hours there are generally two opinions about the new G: ‘the new G looks like the old G’ and the purist who say ‘the new G is not as edgy as the old G anymore’. I personally value all the efforts Mercedes-Benz G GmbH have taken to carry over as much of the old design as possible. The iconic looks of the G have to remain in place as much as possible. Still a changing landscape in terms of pedestrian safety and passenger comfort have required the engineers to make some changes including a slightly rounder front with front lights that sit further back towards the sides. This obviously has an impact on the looks of the new G where I have to add that in real live it is not as dramatic as it looks on the pictures. The same goes for the design of the new full LED headlights – they appear quite dominant on the official pictures, too much for my liking anyway, but in reality they are not that disturbing.
A big challenge in the development of the new G was making it more comfortable, more capable and safer without jeopardizing iconic elements of the old car like the spare wheel at the rear and the indicators on the bonnet. The indicators on the bonnet actually had to go due to pedestrian safety regulations but the engineers came up with a Rolls-Royce spirit of ecstasy like solution where the entire indicator shoots down into the bonnet to prevent harming a pedestrian in case of a crash.
The G500 became 170kg lighter and 55% stiffer. The stiffness is created by high strength reinforcements around the A, B and C pillars and a strut under the bonnet. The reinforcements can clearly be seen when opening the rear luggage compartment where a 10cm high bar runs across just below the rear seats. In general the dimensions of the new G grew significantly; 14cm wider, 7+ cm longer. This benefits the front and rear passengers primarily. One area suffered a bit though and that is the rear luggage compartment. The wheel arches are higher than in the old G hiding things like the Burmester subwoofer and the compressor for the adaptive front seats. To counter the reduced space the rear bench can now be tilted over 9 steps to a cargo position. The bench can be folded 40:60 like the old one but a new ski hatch is a welcome addition.
Assistance system wise the G is also brought up to the latest standards with adaptive cruise control now also offered in combination with lane assist and an automatic emergency brake system. Traffic sign assist is also available along with a plethora in new infotainment and interior options including the amazing Burmester sound system.
Last but for fans probably something to most look forward to we also learned that Mercedes-Benz G GmbH plans to continue to create special small series derivatives of the new G like the recent Maybach G650 Landaulet or G500 4×4 Squared!
Stay tuned for our upcoming review of the new G500 on the road and more news about new engines and derivatives!