- Going off-road – but ‘economically’
- Third version of Gelandewagens coming
- Lift off and clutch disengages to ‘freewheel’
STUTTGART, Germany – The first units of the latest Mercedes G-Class have, the automaker says, ”been conquering the world’s off-road trails since mid-2018” but now the engine range has been expanded to include a less-thirsty diesel.
The newbie’s badge reads G350d, Merc says, and promises fuel consumption below 10 litres/100km; already in global showrooms are its almost identical but more-powerful sisters the G500 (around 12 litres/100km) and AMG G63 (around 13 litres/100km.
Depending on market, this latest model will be available from early in 2019.
MOST EFFICIENT ‘G’ YET
We guess that means the wagon will be quieter… Whatever, the engine has two-stage (exhaust powered) turbocharging and variable valve timing which heats the exhaust system without burning more fuel.
It’s an in-line six and, Merc says, ”is the most efficient ‘G’ yet, capable of peaks of 210kW and 600Nm – the latter from 1200-3200rpm – and 200km/h is possible, as is a 7.4sec dash to 100km/h. Which, of course, would negate much of the fuel-savings.
ECO drive – a free-wheeling function – helps to cut fuel consumption ; when the driver’s foot lifts off the accelerator pedal the clutch simultaneously disengages to reduce engine revs to idle. The clutch re-engaged as soon as the driver returns foot to pedal.
We’d guess the system is disengaged altogether when in 4×4 model.
The engine mounts are for the first time ”actively” controlled to make the engine quieter. Below five km/h the system is set to dampen the transfer of torsional vibration to the ladder-frame chassis; as speed rises, so the ”softening” is reduced.
So, a new engine…? That required changes to the 9G‑Tronic auto transmission. The torque converter is now controlled by dedicated software for faster shifts – which, Merc says, ”makes the G-Class seem even more lively”.
The tech also, the maker says, has made the G ”significantly more agile during brief sprints under partial load”. Such as pulling away from traffic lights…
A new transfer case was designed to send 40% of torque to the front axle, the rest, of course, to the rear. ”This configuration particularly benefits the handling characteristics on the road,” Merc says. ”The permanent all-wheel drive ensures maximum traction.
”However, the ‘G’ would not be a ‘G’ if it did not have even more in store. The low-range off-road reduction gear considerably increases torque to the drive wheels to make very difficult terrain negotiable.”
The G 350 d is more extensively equipped as standard than the preceding model, even ex-factory: a high-quality cabin with leather upholster, instrument panel covered in faux leather, and wood. New options include, ex-factory, items from the brand’s Designo Manufaktur.
And for the first time the Exclusive Interior Plus with diamond seat-quilting is an option.
The G-Class is almost exclusively built by hand to underscore the uniqueness and high quality of every G-Class. Mercedes says each unit takes at least 100 hours to assemble.
‘AGILE AND EFFORTLESS’
As many as five button-selected drive modes are available to modify engine, transmission, suspension, and steering characteristics. Ground clearance is said to be 24.1cm at the rear axle.
On road, the ‘G’ is said to be ”agile as it is comfortable” and provides the driver with a better steering feel. ”It stays on track more solidly, but is agile and effortless when driven off-road.”
HISTORY AS MERCEDES TELLS IT: What began more than 40 years ago as a co-operation between the then Daimler-Benz AG and Steyr-Daimler-Puch in the Austrian city of Graz is now a story peppered with superlatives and milestones.
At its launch in early 1979 it was available with a choice of four engine variously capable of from 53 to 115kW. Customers had the option of a short-wheelbase convertible or a station wagon – short- or long-wheelbase. The G stood for Geländewagen (off-road vehicle).
At that time nobody could have guessed that this was an almost visionary decision in view of the later change in the nomenclature of Mercedes-Benz cars, using only one letter.