Leading the pack was the old dog G-Class.
They say you can’t teach an old dog new tricks, but that’s not a problem for the venerable G-Class as it knows all the tricks in the book. That’s why Mercedes-Benz picked it as the leader of a 12-vehicle convoy consisting exclusively of SUVs fitted with the company’s proprietary 4Matic all-wheel drive system. 8 out of the 12 vehicles were actually the immortal G-Class, with the remaining ones being the softer and more luxurious GLE and GLS models.
The task was pretty much straightforward: traverse U.K. without even touching a public road. The dozen of four-wheel-drive SUVs completed the 65-mile journey off the beaten track across the Scottish Highlands in a couple of days. Mercedes-Benz U.K. points out all 12 vehicles were in standard specification with road-legal mud tires and without any sort of modifications apart from the eliminated side steps.
The main idea behind the journey was to demonstrate the off-road prowess of the SUV trio. Launched back in 1979, the G-Wagen was obviously the senior member of the group and the most capable of them all thanks to its low-range gearbox and three fully lockable differentials. It was also the most exclusive of the pack, with Mercedes making just 15 of them per day at the plant in Graz, Austria. Recent spy shots have shown work is well underway at the new W464 generation due late next year set to bring some in-depth mechanical changes while keeping the boxy styling everyone loves.
As far as the other two, the facelifted M-Class now called “GLE” is also gearing up to make the transition towards a new generation by the end of 2018. The large GLS is another case of a facelifted and renamed model by being a replacement for the old GL-Class. The second generation of Mercedes’ large SUV has been around since 2012, so it wouldn’t be far-fetched to assume a new one will be out before the end of the decade when it will bring along a luxed-up Maybach version.
Gallery: 12 Mercedes SUVs traversed U.K. without using public roads
MERCEDES-BENZ GOES FROM COAST TO COAST – WITHOUT ROADS
A dozen Mercedes-Benz four-wheel drive vehicles have successfully traversed the UK, from the east coast to the west coast, without the use of any open public roads. It is believed to be the first ever journey completed off-road.
The 12 vehicles – a mixture of GLE, GLS and G-Class models – made the 65-mile journey across the Scottish Highlands, over the course of two days. The vehicles were all standard UK-specification cars, fitted with road-legal ‘mud tyres’, but with no modifications apart from the removal of side steps where fitted.
Leading the expedition was the iconic G-Class, which since 1979 has blended rugged go-anywhere ability and luxury. Its permanent 4MATIC all-wheel drive, low-range gearbox and three fully lockable differentials ensure that it can cope in the roughest of all terrain – not least the gravel, rock, wet grass, rivers and gelatinous mud of the Highlands. It is hand-assembled in Graz, Austria, at the rate of just 15 vehicles a day.
Although the GLS’s quilted leather massage seats (standard on designo Line) could suggest it is more about opulence than off-roading, the Off-Road package ensures it is equally at home off the beaten track. The Off-Road package adds a centre differential lock; protective underbody panelling; a low-range gearbox; fully manual mode for the automatic transmission; special off-road programming for the ABS, ESP and 4ETS traction control; and an extra three selectable ride heights for the standard AIRMATIC air suspension. It also adds to the standard Driver Select system’s ‘Off-road’ mode with an ‘Off-road Plus’ mode for especially difficult terrain.
The stylish GLE might more commonly be seen on high streets rather than the Highlands, but when also equipped with the Off-Road Package it makes light work of the most arduous of routes. Just like the GLS, the GLE managed the entire off-road route, from rocks to rivers to muddy fields.