What the ener-G-force Concept Tells Us About the Future of the G-Class
We here at Bold Ride love the Mercedes-Benz G-Class. Originally known as the Galandenwagen, this rugged SUV has been around for over three decades. What makes it so special? Well for starters, it has the off-road, go anywhere panache of a Jeep Wrangler Rubicon humping a Land Rover Range Rover. For every reason that it is awesome, also makes it an endangered species.The girth V8 required to motivate it up over hills makes it a gas guzzler- and as such, puts it in the firing line of every environmental group and government fuel economy or CO2 emission regulation you can imagine. Given the recently unveiled energ-G-force concept, what can we expect from the O.G.? PHOTOS: See more of the Mercedes-Benz energ-G-force Concept Well first things first; you have to find a way to adapt while retaining what makes you awesome. That is far easier said than done. Just look at the Nissan Pathfinder, Ford Explorer and others. All have moved from a rugged construction to a more car like design. In the process, they have lost a decent portion of off-road capability. The Range Rover Evoque has also proven to be not worthy of the Range Rover name when it comes right down to the nitty gritty off-loading stuff. With the Land Rover Defender up for redesign, it could make an off road enthusiast quite nervous.
But I'm not ready to give up on the G-Wagen, or the Land Rover Defender for that matter. If the Jeep brand has taught us anything, its that you can bring a car into the 21st century without completely neutering it. The Wrangler has taken the approach of maintaining traditional drivetrain and suspension layouts, while making thoughtful updates where possible to the interior. The Grand Cherokee, on the other hand, went for a full unibody setup, airbag suspension, and an advanced all-wheel drive system, a la Range Rover. So you can evolve, while retaining what makes you great. So what direction will the production G-Wagen take?
PHOTOS: See more of the Mercedes-Benz G-Class
For starters, there will be heavy use of lighter aluminum alloys. That will shed off hundreds of pounds as Jaguar did with the XJ. The use of carbon fiber would help too. They will also need to downsize the engine, making it more fuel efficient, yet still powerful enough to keep the G-Wagen as capable as always.
There is no technology that converts rainwater into hydrogen fuel like this concept hope to do. So the best option would be a twin-turbocharged V6, that uses regenerative braking. Off-roading requires a lot of braking, and short busts of acceleration. In that sense, it is a lot like driving in traffic: stop-and-go driving. The reason many hybrids have better fuel economy in the city is due to that energy captured from repeatedly braking. So if a regen system was incorporated into an off-road vehicle, there is a possibility to improve fuel economy. Also, consider that the necessary braking friction needed for the downhill descent control systems could come from regen braking. The possibilities are out there to greatly improve fuel economy.
So the future for the true, rugged SUV is out there, and it likely involves the same advancements that are taking place in the supercar realm; lightweight materials and thoughtful incorporation of hybrid powertrains. A vehicle like the ener-G is a long way off, but like haggling at a farmers' market, they started way out there to prepare you for a far more modest overhaul of the G-Class. We hope that in the process of making the G-Class more environmentally friendly, it remains as baddass as it always has been.