– Metzingen, Germany
There’s a camouflaged 2019 Mercedes-Benz G-Class parked in a very dark room. I’m instructed to get inside – don’t look at anything else – and take a few minutes to see what’s new. The door handle is the same, it clicks as the lock releases. I step onto chunky sills, and the door of the new G-Class shuts with the same German-bank-vault precision I know and love. The dashboard is short, just like it’s always been. The headroom is ample, as expected. But this isn’t like any G-Class I’ve been in before. It’s way, way nicer.
When the 2019 G-Class is revealed at the Detroit Auto Show in January, it’ll have a familiar shape, with only an evolutionary update of its design. But as you can see from the image above, the cabin takes a huge step forward in terms of design, technology, and – I assure you – comfort.
The first thing you notice is the expansive digital display that extends from behind the steering wheel all the way out to the center stack. It’s the same setup as the new E- and S-Class models, housing two 12.3-inch high-resolution screens. Certain G-Class trims will use two fixed gauges for the speedometer and tachometer, with a smaller screen between them, and just one 12.3-inch display off to the right. But since both setups are housed within the same dash cutout, the fixed-gauge setup doesn’t look downmarket.
The rear seats are pushed further back into the cargo hold, yielding an extra 5.9 inches of legroom. There’s an extra inch of shoulder room in back, and that rear bench now 40/60 split folds, and even reclines.
The dashboard itself retains an incredibly short depth, everything sort of stacked right up against the windshield. At either end are two raised speakers for the Burmester audio system, and their design mimics the fixed turn signals that flank the corners of the G’s squared-off hood. The steering wheel is ripped right from the new E- and S-Class cars, with buttons and toggles (including the thumb sliders) to control both 12.3-inch screens. For the first time, Mercedes will offer the G-Class with a flat-bottom steering wheel, as part of an AMG Line interior package.
The shape of the G’s iconic round headlamps are reflected in the four air vents that face the front occupants, with adjustments controlled by the horizontal portion in the center of each opening. Smack dab in the center are the G’s three chrome-finished differential lock buttons – parts intentionally carried over from the current SUV. And rather than a flat stack going down to the transmission tunnel, the G-Class now uses a solid center console with two cup holders just before the COMAND system touchpad. (If you’ve ever tried to use the swing-out net cup holder in the current G-Class, you’ll understand why the fitment of two cup holders is such a big deal.) An ample center console looks big enough to hold a small purse, but even so, that’s far more storage than what you get in the current car.
The other big thing you notice up front is the increased width: an extra 1.5 inches of shoulder room for each passenger. The new G-Class isn’t any wider than its predecessor, but instead, the cabin is better packaged inside the SUV’s bones. There’s an additional 1.5 inches of front legroom, as well.
Speaking of legroom, there’s a huge improvement for rear seat passengers. The rear seats are pushed further back into the cargo hold, yielding an extra 5.9 inches of leg space. There’s an extra inch of shoulder room in back, and that rear bench now 40/60 split folds, and even reclines. The cargo area itself is still spacious, accessed by a single-piece, side-hinged rear door, with the same spare tire cover as before (Mercedes insists this piece carries over unchanged, as well). The overall cargo space measurement will likely be a tad smaller than the current G-Class, but trust me, there’s still ample storage back here.
The best thing I can say about the 2019 G-Class’ interior is that it feels so much nicer in every single way. All of the materials are better. The seats offer more cushion and better support. Even the material on the pillars and headliner is top-notch stuff. For a vehicle that’ll climb a mountain if you ask it to, it’s got an interior befitting of an S-Class. And Mercedes assures me there will be myriad color and trim choices, not to mention AMG- and Designo-specific choices, so you can make your G-Wagen as personal and luxurious as you want.
In the U.S., the G-Class is as much a style icon as a go-anywhere machine, and you’re far more likely to see these cruising Miami and Beverly Hills than Moab or the Rubicon Trail. For those customers, every single one of these interior updates will be appreciated: it’s the same iconic G-Class, with a more functional, comfortable, plush cabin.
As for the rest of the G-Class, there’s not much I can say. Full photos and details will be available in just a few weeks, when the SUV is presented at the 2018 North American International Auto Show in Detroit.
Gallery: 2019 Mercedes-Benz G-Class preview
Exclusive interior: the G-Class, reinterpreted for today It is an off-road legend and the ultimate benchmark for so many fans of cross-country driving: the G-Class. Since 1979 more than 300,000 examples of it have allowed their owners to experience adventures that would have been unachievable with any other vehicle. Outwardly, the "G" has changed very little. But in fact this very special off-roader has constantly reinvented itself. With its completely updated interior and numerous new features, the G-Class has now undergone the most significant transformation of its almost 40-year career, in technical as well as stylistic terms - while still managing to stay true to itself.
Iconic elements continue to serve very specific purposes, now as then, and to give the G-Class its unique appearance. All these are still to be found in the new G-Class: the distinctive door handle and the characteristic closing sound, the robust exterior protective strip, the exposed spare wheel on the rear door and the prominent indicator lights. It is extraordinary features like these that combine with the off-roader's angular lines to define its special look.
Interior: as luxurious as it is authentic
That this is a contemporary interpretation of a legend is also evident, for example, from the car's clear, geometric lines: climbing aboard the G-Class reveals styling elements from the exterior transposed into the interior. The shape of the round headlamps, for instance, which is reflected in the air vents on either side. Or the design of the iconic indicators, found again in the shape of the loudspeakers.
Hallmarks of the G-Class include the grab handle in front of the front passenger and the chrome-highlighted switches for the differential locks, positioned in clear view. Both have been meticulously optimised and retained as characteristic features.
G-Class drivers are able to control the full infotainment system without taking their hands off the steering wheel. The touch-sensitive Touch Controls on the steering wheel respond to swiping motions in the same way as the surface of a smartphone. Thanks to haptic impulses and additional feedback from the onboard speakers, the driver can use the touchpad without looking away from the road. The input options are rounded off by shortcut keys in front of the Controller for frequently accessed operating tasks, and by the optional control array for the driving assistance systems above the rotary light switch. The driver sits up close to the windscreen and enjoys good all-round visibility from behind the wheel.
The very clearly laid-out and completely redesigned instrument panel features timeless tube-look analogue dials as standard within a 12.3-inch frame, along with the standard 12.3 inch navigation screen. In other words, fans of classic round instruments will certainly not be disappointed in the new G-Class. As in the new E and S-Class, an alternative instrument panel in the form of a large flat display screen showing virtual instruments in the driver's direct field of vision. On the optional setup, two 12.3-inch displays blend visually into a wide- screen cockpit beneath a shared glass cover. Drivers can choose between three different styles for the displays – "Classic", "Sport" and "Progressive" – and also configure relevant information and views according to their individual needs.
High-quality materials and added comfort
With its unmistakable character and high-quality appointments, the G-Class has always managed to combine off-road capability and luxury in a particularly harmonious way. Even in its standard specification, the G-Class's timeless and authentic open-pore wood trim gives it an air of classical elegance. Its stylish details include the generous use of high-quality metal or carbon fibre trim, and its leather seats.
"Every G-Class must be put to the test on the Schöckl." And this was the motto that headed the list of requirement specifications when it came to redesigning this classic among off-roaders. It refers to the Graz plant's local mountain, used by Mercedes-Benz for its hard – and some say even merciless - testing, and which each off-roader must be able to conquer. Which is why every "G" bears a certification mark in the form of a "Schöckl" badge at the base of its B-pillar.
The doors are very solid, clear evidence of that hallmark "G" functionality. The stowage space concept has been thoroughly overhauled, with numerous new storage areas ensuring that everything has a home. Under the armrest, for example, is an illuminated compartment for small items such as chewing gum, handkerchiefs or perhaps sunglasses. A wireless charging point here can be specified as an optional extra. In front of the touchpad in the center console are two removable cup holders and an oddments tray. The rear doors are each capable of accommodating a 1-liter water bottle. The rear bench seat has a freestanding backrest, so allowing maximum variability and better visibility through the rear side windows.
The standard audio system features the Burmester® surround sound system with 16 speakers and a 590 watt amplifier with Digital Sound Processing is available as optional equipment.
The revised dimensions of the now larger G-Class do not only benefit the driver, but also the passengers in the second row.
The rear seats can be folded down to 60, 40 or 100 percent. The seats in the G-Class are equipped as standard with numerous convenience functions such as the Memory function for the driver's seat, seat heating front and rear, and luxury head restraints in the front. Such ride comfort can be enhanced still further if so required with the Active Multicontour Seat package. As well as the special multicontour seats, this encompasses such features as a range of massage functions, climatized seats and fast seat heating. This variant also offers electrically adjustable lumbar supports for the driver and front passenger. The side sections of the seat cushions and backrests of the active multicontour seats include integrated air chambers that fill or empty on a continuous basis according to the driving dynamics, so providing better support for the seating positions of driver and front passenger and, for example, offering more lateral support during cornering. The front seats of the Active Multicontour Seat package are recommended by experts from the German spinal health organization "Aktion Gesunder Rücken e.V.".
Extras for the G-Class: two exclusive equipment packages
There are so many variants for the new G-Class that it is extremely rare for any two cars to be exactly alike. This wide range of equipment options is made possible by the fact that features from the designo manufacture range have already been integrated into the standard equipment variants.
Passengers are accommodated as standard on seats in Lugano leather in black, nut brown or macchiato beige. There is furthermore a choice of two top-class equipment packages: Exclusive Interior and Exclusive Interior Plus. The Exclusive Interior is available in a range of seven colors. Three of these are elegant combinations of nappa leather in black and one of the designo manufacture colors platinum white, yacht blue or classic red. The package also includes a black designo roof liner in DINAMICA microfibre, along with air vents in silvershadow. The Exclusive Interior Plus comprises additional elements in nappa leather such as the door trim, sections of the center console, the instrument panel and all the upholstery. A particular feature here is the seat design with dynamic diamond-pattern quilting. With this package, customers have a choice between the designo shades of black, espresso brown and classic red. For the first time it is also possible to order a light-colored interior throughout, in macchiato beige – encompassing everything from the flooring to the roof liner.
The sporty AMG Line can be combined with all three variants. In this case, black seats are combined with contrasting topstitching in red for the seats, instrument panel, doors and center console, along with red seat belts. It is a look that goes well with the very sporty steering wheel with flattened bottom section, now also available for the first time for the G-Class.
An off-road legend since 1979
The G-Class is the top model among luxury off-road vehicles. It is not only by far the passenger car model series with the longest production run in the history of Mercedes-Benz, but also the forefather of all SUVs to bear the three-pointed star – this is why all Mercedes off-road models feature the upper-case G in their name.
What began in 1972 with a collaboration agreement between the then Daimler- Benz AG and Steyr-Daimler-Puch in the Austrian city of Graz is now a story peppered with superlatives and significant milestones. As it was back then, the G-Class is still built largely by hand in Graz.
Right from the very first design, this was no ordinary cross-country vehicle. Product planners, designers and engineers designed a vehicle that offered a compelling combination of reliability, robust build and superb off-road performance, which nevertheless appealed to customers as a fully-fledged, comfortable and above all safe, exclusive automobile for recreational purposes.
At the time of its market launch, in the spring of 1979, it was available with a choice of four engine variants covering a performance spectrum of 53 kW/72 hp to 115 kW/156 hp. Customers had the option of a Cabriolet with a short wheelbase or Station Wagon models with short or long wheelbase. In 1989, the vehicles in the model series 463 marked the beginning of an evolutionary process for the off-roader that was not just about keeping pace with technical progress. It was an evolution that also brought a steadily expanding fanbase and emphasised its character as an exclusive vehicle for any occasion. And, since 1993, a vehicle with an official name: the G-Class.
The 25th anniversary of the G-Class was marked by the arrival of a very special model on the market, honed by Mercedes-AMG: the G 55 AMG Kompressor. Its eight-cylinder power unit (350 kW/469hp, 700 newton meters of torque/516 lb- ft) gave the robust off-roader an unprecedented level of performance and demonstrated the tremendous potential of the G-Class.
The G-Class's 30th birthday was celebrated in 2009 with a series of new equipment features, enhancing primarily the comfort and exclusivity of the interior. Sales of the G-Class have increased continually ever since. Thanks to the strong growth rates, the forefather of the SUV achieved a new sales record in 2016, with almost 20,000 units being sold worldwide within a year.
New AMG engines, a markedly expanded range of appointments, an even higher-quality interior, careful exterior modifications and safety features such as DISTRONIC Plus as well as the parking aid PARKTRONIC ensured further enhancement of the off-roader in 2012.
The MY17 G 550 4x4 squared launched in the U.S. in January 2017, added not only a luxurious interior to the equation, but also ground clearance of 45 centimeters/ 18 inches and impressive on-road performance. Since 2015 designo manufacture has offered customers the possibility to individualize their G with exclusive equipment variants.
The summer of 2017 saw the 300,000th G-Class roll off the assembly line in Graz – a Mercedes-Benz G 500 (Euro Spec) in designo Mauritius blue metallic with black leather seats and contrasting white topstitching (combined fuel consumption: 12.3 l/100 km (62 mi); combined CO2 emissions: 289 g/km). Equipped with a range of off-road features including all-terrain tires mounted on black 16-inch rims and a sturdy roof rack, the anniversary vehicle embarked this summer on a new adventure. G-Class fans around the world determined the vehicle specification by voting for their favorite equipment and appointments on the official G-Class Facebook page. The future road trips of the 300,000th G-Class can also be followed on social networks.
The new G-Class will be celebrating its premiere at the North American International Auto Show 2018 in Detroit.