Listen to this article

Why offer an all-new version of a somewhat iconoclastic off-roader like the Mercedes-Benz G-Class – especially when Mercedes’ other SUVs are already so popular with shoppers? The answer, says Head of Mercedes-Benz Cars Dr Dieter Zetsche, is simple: How could they not renew such a desirable model?

“It’s an icon,” Zetsche says of the G-Class. “If you have such a jewel and you don’t polish it, you are done.”


Specifically, he points to the “unbelievable success” of the G-Class worldwide: About 22,000 global sales last year, of which almost half were AMG variants. (The U.S. market alone accounts for almost 20 percent of G-Class volume.) While that may not be an enormous number in terms of all of Mercedes’ global sales, because the Geländewagen is a pricey vehicle, each of those sales generates a lot of revenue for the automaker.


See all the news about the North American International Detroit Auto Show

“We are very successful, this is extremely profitable, this segment,” Zetsche says. “This is a segment [that] most companies don’t even sell one car in, price-wise.”

And the SUV’s continued success, he says, is due in part to its very broad appeal: whether you plan to take it off-road or keep it on pavement, plenty of shoppers lust after the G-Class.

“It’s not just sheiks in Abu Dhabi or wherever,” he says. “We are able, be it AMG, be it G-Class, be it the combination of both, to make very very attractive offerings to the absolute top-notch of the customer population.”

That’s not to say that Mercedes thinks it can create luxury versions of any vehicle; Zetsche notes that it’s a little tougher to make a B-Class hatchback into an aspirational model than an SL-Class roadster. To that end, he says Mercedes does not plan to chase the subcompact segment; the CLA- and GLA-Class models (plus the not-sold-here A- and B-) are as small as the company will go.

“We have no plans to enter the B segment,” Zetsche says. “I don’t foresee a change of that position.”

Live Photos: Patrick Hoey /

Gallery: 2019 Mercedes-Benz G-Class

Got a tip for us? Email: