One week after Mercedes-Benz unveiled their newly resigned GL-class at the 2012 New York International Auto Show the German manufacturer is back at it, this time with the mother of all luxury SUVs the G-class.
Upon seeing the photos of the new G-class those familiar with Mercedes’ original all-terrain vehicle might be struck with the lack of changes to the exterior styling, and you would be correct in saying nearly nothing has changed to this road-going box on wheels. While most vehicles get significant upgrades and improvements when undergoing serious redesigns it’s obvious the G-class is not one of those vehicles, especially considering the fact that it has remained largely unchanged since its introduction in 1979. LED running lights and side mirrors give the 2013 G-class a slightly updated appearance, but it’s so minor many with untrained eyes would probably not even notice the difference. The high-performance G63 AMG receives the added bonus of 20-inch wheels complete with painted red brake calipers and an AMG-specific radiator grille, but that’s it in terms of exterior variation.
While the oh-so-familiar exterior might leave some unimpressed, one only need to glance into the passenger cabin to see the real changes that make the 2013 G-class markedly different from its predecessor, most of which have taken place in the immediate vicinity of the driver.
The instrument cluster and center console have been totally revamped and redesigned when compared to the previous generation G-class. The instrument cluster is made up of two round gauges, behind which lies a TFT (thin-film transistor) LCD display screen that acts as a controller for the COMAND infotainment system. At the top-center of the center console is a large screen that offers occupants luxurious amenities like DVD changer, navigation system with special off-road functions, voice-operated controls and wireless Bluetooth connection. Rounding out the technological features are DISTRONIC PLUS, blind spot assist and PARKTRONIC with a reversing camera.
Although the aforementioned instrument cluster and center console have varied from the 2012 model, two distinct design features have remained intact. These include the characteristic G-class grab handle located on the passenger side directly above the glove compartment and the three buttons operating the three corresponding locking differentials that the driver can engage when navigating through difficult terrain.
Along with the interior, under the hood is yet another place where you can find differentiation. The standard G550 has retained a 5.5-liter V-8 engine, now producing an additional six horsepower for a peak output of 388. Peak torque has remained unchanged at 391 lb-ft. Power is transferred to the road via a seven-speed automatic, different from the previous five-speed automatic.
Despite the small improvements in the standard V-8, the high-performance G63 AMG has a completely new power plant propelling it down the road. Out is a 5.4-liter supercharged V-8 and in its place is a 5.5-liter twin-turbocharged unit. The new engine produces a maximum of 544 HP and 560 lb-ft of torque along with an “Eco” stop/start function that seems to be making its way into nearly every new Mercedes that makes its way onto the market. The tiny increase in displacement and the addition of turbos results in a 44 HP and 34 lb-ft improvement over the old engine. Badging has also changed from G55 AMG to G63 AMG for new high-performing G-class.
The G-class is definitely a vehicle that is capable of tackling on-road or off-road duties. Unlike the GLK, M and GL classes, the G-class is the Mercedes you want to be in when going off-road. When you combine technology such as the three locking differentials and the torque-crazy V-8 engines in both the G550 and G63 AMG you get a focused and purpose-orientated vehicle that is really capable of fulfilling its hefty claims and backing up its history of being Mercedes’ primer SUV.
With all of this luxury and capability on-board don’t expect for either of these luxury SUVs to come cheap. No official figures for the 2013 G-class have been released, but judging by the 2012 model customers can expect to spend in excess of $107,975 for the G550 and $124,450 for the G63 AMG when they going on sale this August.
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