Last year I reviewed the 2016 Mercedes-Benz AMG G63. I wanted to love it but I couldn’t. The interior was cramped and outdated. The tall and narrow body on stick axles was fighting physics when 563-horsepower was applied, and losing. The ride wasn’t exactly “class leading”, as the automakers call it. I loved the looks but I didn’t love much else. Despite that, the G-class is selling very well for what it is, an old military vehicle on steroids and with lots of lipstick. Clearly, Mercedes couldn’t just kill it. But they couldn’t change it, either. They had to improve it.
Per recent press release, Mercedes started improving the G-Class from the inside. The biggest problem with the current interior, bottom picture, is that is looks and feels like it’s been modernized and modified a million times, because it has, but still has the same old bones. There is no room between the seat and the door, so some seat controls are on top of the seats. The center console is narrow, about the width of a cell phone. Climate controls are placed way low and are difficult to see. The screen looks like an iPad randomly attached on top. It’s just dated.
But the new G-class, top picture, is basically S-Class squared. The most distinctive thing from the older Gelandewagens was carried over, the three locking differential buttons. Of course most buyers don’t know what they do, or when and how to use them, but they’re there. Otherwise, it’s modern Mercedes with sharper angles. But the dash board is not the big news here…
Despite being big, the current G-Class is not that big anymore. All other vehicles simply got bigger in the almost-forty years that the G-class has been in production. Mercedes did what they needed to do – they added size. Judging by the square shape of side windows and flat windshield, the vehicle will be bigger in all dimensions but will retain the iconic proportions of the original. Jeep did that beautifully with the new Wrangler.
It was interior space where the G needed the biggest boost and, as per the above chart, it gets exactly that. The G-Class was always big on headroom but no much else. With the new G-Class, everything seems to be improved; leg room and shoulder room improve just enough to notice. Elbow room, which previously didn’t exist, gets almost three inches. And most importantly, rear seat leg room gains a solid six inches, which means that real people, or Russian gangsters, will now be more comfortable in the back seat than in a DC-10 coach seat.
I love the original idea behind the Gelandewagen but I have been disappointed by what it has become – a status symbol for the nouveau riche. While that is the G-Class buying majority, deep down inside I hope that with the new vehicle will come a model that truly reflects its roots. Jeep has the Wrangler Rubicon, Toyota has the TRD Pro models, even Land Rover is coming out with the Discovery SVX, so why not apply that to one of the most iconic off-roaders of all time?
Below is a picture of the Euro-spec G 350 d Professional, which shows that Mercedes can do it. We will see it at the 2018 North American International Auto Show in Detroit.