Anniversary for the Mercedes-Benz G-Class: 40 years of the G-Class rocks!

13.
June 2019
Stuttgart/Graz

Stuttgart/Graz.  For 40 years the Mercedes-Benz G-Class has been the measure of all things in the off-road-vehicle segment, and for 20 years as an AMG model, too, with an extra portion of performance. This makes it by far the longest-standing passenger car model series built in Mercedes-Benz history and thus the forefather of all SUVs with the three-pointed star. To mark this anniversary there are no less than four highlights for G-Class fans. Firstly: three attractive STRONGER THAN TIME special models. Secondly: on request the special model is exclusively available as the G 400 d (combined fuel consumption: 9.6 l/100 km; combined CO2 emissions: 253 g/km)* in the most powerful expansion stage of the efficient inline six-cylinder diesel engine. Thirdly: the new individualisation range G manufaktur, with which customers can select from their own personal G. And fourthly: the new G-Class Experience Centre, where customers from all over the world can test the impressive skills of the off-road icon in extreme terrain not far from the G-Class production site in Graz.

 "40 years ago the combination of on- and off-road properties was a revolutionary concept. The current G-Class continues this tradition. Its top technological performance today forms the basis for its status as an automotive icon", says Dr Gunnar Güthenke, Head of the Off-Road Vehicle product unit at Mercedes-Benz. "We are celebrating this exceptional status with lots of highlights for our customers and fans. I am convinced that, for the G-Class, it is just the beginning."

40 years of G – with attractive editions

What began in the early 1970s with a collaboration agreement between the then Daimler-Benz AG and Steyr-Daimler-Puch in the Austrian city of Graz is now a unique piece of automotive history. The concept for the new off-road vehicle was in itself unusual: it combines superior off-road capability with fully-fledged roadworthiness and safety. All-wheel drive and 100-percent differential locks have also been part of the "G" since that time, as has the robust ladder-type frame.

In 1975 the decision was also made to commence series production of the G-models. At the same time it was agreed to construct a new plant in Graz, where the vehicles have been manufactured ever since, mainly built by hand. 80 percent of all the G-Class vehicles ever produced are still in use – testament to the outstanding quality of the off-road legend.

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 range from 53 kW/72 hp to 115 kW/156 hp. Customers had the option of a Cabriolet with a short wheelbase and Station Wagon models with a short or long wheelbase. In 1989 the vehicles of the model series 463 marked the beginning of an evolutionary process for the off-roader that was continually keeping pace with technical progress. Since 1993 the model has borne the name G-Class.

In numerous special-purpose versions, the off-roader also showed its versatility in operation with the police, fire service and rescue services. The G model is also known the world over as the "Popemobile". The Mercedes-Benz 230 G off-road vehicle painted in mother of pearl with a transparent special body accompanied Pope John Paul II on numerous journeys from 1980.

20 years of off-road performance

The 20th birthday in 1999 was also the beginning of a highly successful chapter in G-Class history: the first AMG variant entered the market in the form of the G 55 AMG. Prior to that the G-Class was only available from AMG as individual specimens. The 5.5-litre eight-cylinder naturally aspirated engine with three-valve technology achieved 260 kW (354 hp); the maximum speed was electronically limited at 210 km/h. The maximum torque worked flat out: 525 Nm at 3000 rpm. It was not only the engine which received extensive modifications; the 5-speed automatic transmission, the chassis, the brakes and the exhaust system were also adapted to the higher output.

In 2002 the G 63 AMG set new standards. This was the first time a twelve-cylinder engine had been installed in the G-Class, and the number 63 here stands for a 6.3-litre V12 naturally aspirated engine with an output of 326 kW (444 hp) and a generous maximum torque of 620 Nm. The most powerful G-Class to date was made in singlepiece production in the AMG Manufaktur (today the AMG Performance Studio) on exclusive customer request in Affalterbach.

In 2004 the G 55 AMG Kompressor followed to mark the 25th anniversary. The eight-cylinder power pack (350 kW/476 hp, 700 Nm torque) sprinted from zero to 100 km/h in merely 5.6 seconds. Its sidepipes which ended obliquely in front of the rear wheels were style-forming.

In 2006 the G-Class was given a new, state-of-the-art diesel engine. The G 320 CDI, regarded as one of the best "Gs" of all time by many enthusiasts, had an output of 165 kW (224 hp) and featured a diesel particulate filter as standard. Its light-alloy V6 engine offered driving pleasure in abundance with its smooth torque curve – both on and off the road.

In addition, on its 30th birthday in 2009, the G-Class was given new equipment features, which increased interior comfort and exclusivity in particular. The ergonomically optimised front seats offered more support, while new designs and climatised seats made the off-road icon even more luxurious.

In 2012 the G-Class was enhanced yet further thanks to a significantly extended equipment range, an even higher-quality interior, gentle exterior modifications as well as new safety and comfort features such as DISTRONIC Plus and the parking assistance system PARKTRONIC. For the first time AMG provided the G 65 AMG with the legendary 6.0-litre V12 biturbo – at that point in time the most powerful off-road vehicle in the world, with an output of 450 kW (612 hp) and electronically limited 1000 Nm maximum torque. Also new was the G 63 AMG, which was driven by a 5.5-litre V8 biturbo with an output of 400 kW (544 hp) and maximum torque of 760 Nm. With 40 percent of sales the G 63 AMG developed into the most popular variant within the entire G-Class family.

Versatile icon

The G 63 AMG 6x6 was especially spectacular, stunning the off-roader world in 2013: with 400 kW (544 hp), six driven wheels, off-road reduction in the transfer case, portal axles for more ground clearance, five differentials lockable during the journey and a tyre pressure control system the G 63 6x6 AMG systematically met all the topographical and meteorological challenges at which other vehicles had thus far failed. And the high-quality, refined interior with individual rear seats guaranteed its driver and passengers optimum high-class comfort, even in extreme off-road use. There was similar performance in 2015 as part of a package suitable for the city in the G 500 4x4² derived from that model. Not only did it bring a luxurious interior; it also boasted ground clearance of 45 centimetres and impressive on-road capabilities.

In 2017 the Mercedes-Maybach G 650 Landaulet underlined the fact that the transformative abilities of the G-Class know virtually no bounds. With its effortlessly superior V12 engine, portal axles, an electric fabric soft top and exclusive equipment in the rear compartment the off-road vehicle limited to 99 units met the expectations of customers with the most discerning requirements.

The summer of 2017 saw the 300,000th G-Class roll off the assembly line in Graz – a Mercedes-Benz G 500 in designo Mauritius blue metallic with black leather seats and contrasting white topstitching. G-Class fans around the world determined the vehicle specification by voting for their favourite equipment and appointments on the official G-Class Facebook page.

A new era began in January 2018: the new G-Class celebrated its premiere at the North American International Auto Show in Detroit. Whilst the edgy exterior remained unmistakeable as the iconic classic, the new model received a fundamentally restyled interior. Technologically it set standards once again: on-road the G-Class reinvented itself – with modern assistance systems, outstanding handling and optimum safety. Off-road it surpassed itself: the new suspension, the DYNAMIC SELECT drive programs, the "G-Mode" and the three 100-percent differential locks enhanced performance, ride comfort and agility – on any surface.

 For eternity: STRONGER THAN TIME Edition and G 400 d

The three STRONGER THAN TIME Editions to mark the anniversary year, including an AMG variant, are a real birthday treat.

The Mercedes-Benz special models for 40 years of the G-Class are available in two engine versions. Exclusively available for the special model, the most powerful expansion stage of the new inline six-cylinder diesel engine OM 656 is available as the G 400 d (combined fuel consumption: 9.6 l/100 km; combined CO2 emissions: 253 g/km)*. With an output of 243 kW (330 hp) and an impressive maximum torque of 700 Nm at 1200 to 3200 rpm this top-of-the range engine offers a generous portion of driving pleasure. At the same time it is systematically designed to meet future emissions legislation (RDE – Real Driving Emissions). All components relevant for efficient emissions reduction are installed directly at the engine. This contributes to faster effectiveness of the catalytic converter and the diesel particulate filter. High-tech features such as the stepped-recess combustion process, the two-stage exhaust-gas turbocharging and the use of the variable valve train CAMTRONIC also ensure increases in efficiency.

The Mercedes-Benz Editions are alternatively available as the G 500 (combined fuel consumption: 12.1-11.5 l/100 km; combined CO2 emissions: 276-263 g/km)*. Here a high-performance 4.0-litre V8 petrol engine ensures powerful propulsion. The biturbo produces an output of 310 kW (422 hp) and a maximum torque of 610 Nm at 2000 to 4750 rpm.

The Mercedes-Benz models to mark the G-Class anniversary come in AMG Line guise, so they have flared wheel arches, AMG design elements in the bumpers and an exterior protective strip, brake callipers with Mercedes-Benz lettering and, in the case of the G 500, also a sports exhaust system. The drivers also hold a flattened steering wheel in their hands. Thanks to the Stainless Steel Package the side running boards, spare wheel cover, door sills and the loading sill protection at the rear are of a very high quality. The standard-fit Night Package gives the special model darkened lights as well as outside mirrors, a spare wheel ring and design elements in the bumpers in obsidian black and tinted rear windows.

Both the two Mercedes-Benz variants and the Mercedes-AMG model of the STRONGER THAN TIME Editions offer extensive standard equipment, including:  

  • Driving Assistance Package
  • Suspension with adaptive damping system
  • Parking Package with 360° camera
  • MULTIBEAM LED headlamps
    (not in conjunction with headlamp grilles)
  • Widescreen Cockpit
  • Active Multicontour Seat Package
  • Burmester® surround sound system
  • Ambient lighting with 64 colours and ten colour schemes
  • EASY-PACK load compartment cover
  • Electric glass sliding sunroof with convenience and automatic rain-sensor closing function, obstruction sensor plus PRE-SAFE® closing function

Painstaking attention to detail is revealed by a further feature, which is impressively showcased at night: the surround lamp projects the "G" logo and the lettering "STRONGER THAN TIME" onto the asphalt. This lettering is also found on each of the badges on the outside on the A-pillar and in the leather-covered grab handle in front of the front seat.

The Mercedes-Benz Editions are available in two looks: traditionalists will be delighted by a variant whose interior is characterised by black nappa leather with golden topstitching as well as trim elements in open-pore black ash. The exterior paintwork options available for selection are G manufaktur manganite grey magno, G manufaktur monza grey magno, G manufaktur citrine brown magno, G manufaktur olive metallic, G manufaktur diamond white, obsidian black and mojave silver. If customers choose one of the three matt paint colours the obsidian black features from the Night Package are in G manufaktur night black magno, and this also applies to the radiator grille and the flared wheel arches. The eyecatching features of this variant are the black 20-inch AMG multi-spoke light-alloy wheels and the protective grilles on the headlamps.

Anyone wanting a particularly exclusive G-Class can opt for the special model with the luxury two-tone Exclusive Interior Plus in macchiato beige / yacht blue with trim elements of high-gloss light brown Sen wood or in the combination macchiato beige / lounge red, with the trim parts in the instrumental panel and centre console in black piano lacquer. Diamond white, mojave silver, obsidian black, brilliant blue and selenite grey are available as paintwork for the G manufaktur.

The traditional and also the exclusive Mercedes-Benz special model of the G-Class have leather-covered grab handles on the roof lining, and the instrument panel is also covered with nappa leather.

20 years of the AMG G-Class: king of the performance off-roaders

AMG is celebrating the 20th birthday of the performance G-Class with a STRONGER THAN TIME Edition for the Mercedes-AMG G 63 (combined fuel consumption: 13.3-13.1 l/100 km; combined CO2 emissions: 304-299 g/km)* with a fittingly powerful drive system, the sophisticated AMG RIDE CONTROL suspension, AMG-specific drive programs and a state-of-the-art interior.

The basis for the hallmark AMG Driving Performance both on and off metalled roads is provided by the 430 kW (585 hp) 4.0-litre V8 biturbo engine, the rear-biased all-wheel drive (40:60) with three differential locks, the extremely fast-shifting 9-speed AMG SPEEDSHIFT TCT automatic transmission, the double wishbone independent front suspension and the adaptive adjustable damping. The unmistakeable design creates strong highlights with the AMG-specific radiator grille, flared wheel arches, striking side pipes on the exhaust system and the up to 22-inch wheels.

The peak torque of an impressive 850 Nm is available from 2500 to 3500 rpm and conveys the impression of effortless superiority. A sprint from standstill to 100 km/h is absolved in 4.5 seconds. This dynamic performance is maintained up to the limited maximum speed of 220 km/h, or 240 km/h with the AMG Driver's Package.

On the special model to mark the anniversary of the performance-G-Class the AMG-specific radiator grille in dark chrome adds an initial visual exclamation mark. Numerous equipment features in Silvershadow, a matt chrome finish, emphasise the fine direction being taken. These include:

  • The running boards and the sidepipes tailpipes on the exhaust system
  • The outside mirror housings
  • The trim elements in the bumpers at the front and rear, the underguard, the inserts in the side exterior protective strips and on the spare wheel cover.

The 22-inch AMG cross-spoke forged wheels are painted matt black and feature a high-sheen finish – this combination is exclusively reserved for the Edition and combines visual depth with a matt silver-coloured finish. The 10 J x 22-dimensioned wheels are fitted with tyres sized 295/40 R 22.

The colours available for selection as paintwork are non-metallic G manufaktur dark blue, obsidian black metallic, G manufaktur graphite metallic, G manufaktur night black magno, G manufaktur platinum magno and G manufaktur diamond white bright. The ring around the spare wheel cover is also kept in the vehicle colour here.

The interior also boasts sportily luxurious equipment, including G manufaktur two-tone black / titanium grey pearl nappa leather, AMG carbon-fibre trim elements and grab handles in nappa leather. The instrument panel is also covered in nappa leather, on the top in black and on the bottom in titanium grey pearl.

The AMG special model also provides a welcome on entry by projecting STRONGER THAN TIME vibrantly in the entrance area. The lettering is also to be found here in the form of an engraving in the insert on the grab handle on the front passenger side.

For challenging G-ography: AMG Trail Package

With the new, optional AMG Trail Package the Mercedes-AMG G 63 is now even better equipped for excursions off the beaten track. The suspension with adaptive damping adjustment AMG RIDE CONTROL was tuned more softly for off-road use. It makes smoother work of poor road surfaces and also enables the wheels to follow uneven surfaces with precision. Thanks to the optimised ground contact in off-road terrain the off-road drive programs Trail, Rock and Sand have a more efficient effect. The new tuning also helps increase on-road comfort over long distances. Exclusively designed for the AMG Trail Package, the 5-twin-spoke 20-inch light-alloy wheels with all-terrain tyres also visually reinforce the robust properties and the special off-road talent of the G 63 with the AMG Trail Package.

A black underguard also protects the valuable powertrain system against damage to ensure that the vehicle continues to make progress even in extreme applications. The black-tinted and heat-insulating glazing for the rear side windows and the rear window afford protection against strong sunlight. Mud flaps on the wheel arches on the rear wheels and rubber floor mats also emphasise the high resilience of the G 63 with the AMG Trail Package even on loose gravel and in mud.

Handcraftsmanship meets high tech in Graz

To this day, every single G-Class in all body variants and engine variants right up to the AMG models has been assembled by Magna Steyr in Graz, Austria, on just one production line. Some 2000 employees employ painstaking handcraftsmanship, putting their heart and soul into ensuring that this precision tool is driven onto the road and into off-road terrain in top quality. For example, experienced master saddlers keep their eye on every detail when it comes to the process of high-quality leather varieties during production of the seats. This unique process of creation takes time – at around 100 hours considerably more than is the case for other models.

G manufaktur – the G-Class in a tailor-made suit

The new individualisation range G manufaktur offers scope for yet more exclusivity. With a total of around a million combination options for series and G manufaktur models the wide choice of G-Class versions knows virtually no bounds – theoretically, vehicles could actually be produced for several decades in Graz without any two of them being identical. In this way customers can design their own personal G from one G. The individualisation processes can be embedded into production in such a way that customers do not have to wait a long time for their vehicle, even when ordering from the G manufaktur range.

For the seats alone there are 64 different combinations of seat upholstery layouts and seat designs. Then there is the processing of exclusive materials, for instance for leather-covered grab handles, wood/leather steering wheels or trim parts which are refined with piano lacquer or open-pore woods.

The variety of colours leaves virtually nothing to be desired, either. In the interior the customers also have a free choice from the wide colour palette for the nappa leather on the steering wheel, instrument panel and seats, and for the topstitching and seat belts. For the exterior, 34 paint colours offer a choice for every taste – and the spare wheel ring is now also available in the vehicle colour. Anyone choosing the Night Package can in future also have their G-Class with Black Accents, featuring the roof, bumpers, wheel arches and spare wheel ring in obsidian black and black Mercedes star. Black disc wheels are also available with immediate effect. As a special extra, vehicles with an individualised leather package in the interior can be identified by the G manufaktur badge on the grab handle in front of the front seat.

The G-Class Experience Centre Feldkirchen

To coincide with the special birthday there is a very special present for G-Class fans: in the near future the G-Class Experience Center will be officially opened on the former Nittner aerodrome in Feldkirchen, around 15 kilometres to the south of Graz. It offers customers from all over the world the opportunity to test the extensive capabilities of the G-Class, to further develop their driving skills even in extreme terrain and to experience for themselves just what is behind the quality criterion "Schöckl proved". Not far from there on Graz's own mountain, the Schöckl, is the legendary test track on which the G-Class has to prove its worth on the course stretching for 5.6 kilometres with inclines of up to 60 percent and roll angles up to 40 percent, representing fiercely extreme situations.

Conditions are similarly challenging on the site of the new G-Class Experience Centre measuring 100,000 m2. Alongside a reception and presentation area there are four test modules in total: a natural and an artificially created off-road section, the G-Rock with various approach ramps with gradients up to 100 percent and an on-road section on the former taxiways. This is where drivers can push themselves to the limits of their abilities with manoeuvres such as extreme braking and on slalom courses.

During the construction phase a great deal of care was taken to handle the existing conditions sensitively: the routing in the natural off-road area was adapted to the site in cooperation with experts to ensure that trees and biotopes worthy of protection remained intact. 

Milestones in G-Class history

1979

The first G-Models are presented to the press. Production start-up of the 240 GD, 300 GD, 230 G and 280 GE.

1980

During his visit to Germany in November 1980, Pope John Paul II is for the first time chauffeured in a "Popemobile" based on the 230 G.

1981

Optional equipment available for the cabriolet now includes air conditioning, side-facing bench seats and a hard top. There is a choice of 22 colours.

1983

In the Paris-Dakar Rally, Jacky Ickx and Claude Brasseur are first across the finishing line in a 280 GE.

1985

The "G" is significantly upgraded by a model facelift. Standard equipment now also includes differential locks, central locking and a rev counter.

1987

Further facelift with power window lifts, an automatic antenna and a larger tank.

1989

Launch of the 463 series with superior equipment and four engine variants: 250 GD, 300 GD, 230 GE and 300 GE. There is a choice of three body versions: Convertible, short-wheelbase Station Wagon long-wheelbase Station Wagon long.

1993

The 500 GE appears as the first V8 model of the off-roader. The 5-litre light-alloy engine of the limited special model develops 177 kW/240 hp. from September the G-Models are officially known as the G-Class. The model designations are G 230, G 300, G 350 TURBODIESEL etc.

1994

Second facelift for the 463 series, with internally ventilated front disc brakes and a driver airbag.

1996

The G 300 TURBODIESEL with an inline six-cylinder engine (130 kW/177 hp) is launched.

1997

The G-Class Cabriolet makes its debut in a new variant with an electrohydraulic soft top.

1998

The G 500 with a V8 engine (218 kW/296 hp) is added to the regular model range.

1999

With the G 55 AMG, an AMG variant is part of the official sales portfolio of the
G-Class for the first time. 

2001

The G-Class is given a considerably upgraded interior as part of a model facelift. The extended standard equipment now including new dynamic control systems is presented at the International Motor Show (IAA) in September. These include ESP®, Braking Assist BAS and the new electronic traction system ETS.

2002

The G 63 AMG is the first G-Class with a twelve-cylinder engine.

2004

World premiere of the new G 55 AMG with a supercharged V8 engine. The most powerful G-Class to date has an output of 350 kW (476 hp).

2006

Bi-xenon headlamps with a cornering light are featured in the G-Class as standard. The G 320 CDI replaces the previous diesel models G 270 CDI and G 400 CDI.

2007

Further updating: the G-Class is given a new instrument cluster with four analogue dial instruments.

2008

Introduction of the new 5.5-litre V8 engine with 285 kW (388 hp). Modified radiator grille with three louvres.

2012

Completely redesigned dashboard and centre console, with the modern infotainment system COMAND Online on board as standard. The Group's subsidiary from Affalterbach sends the G 65 AMG into the running, powered by a 6.0-litre twelve-cylinder engine with a carbon-fibre/aluminium cover. With torque of 1000 newton metres, the G 65 AMG is the world's most powerful series production off-road vehicle; its top speed has to be electronically limited to 230 km/h. The G 63 AMG is also launched with a 5.5-litre V8 biturbo.

2013

The three-axled G 63 AMG 6x6 demonstrates superior off-road capabilities.

2015

For the first time the designo individualisation range offers exclusive, unique colour and material compositions both inside and out. In addition, the new
G 500 4x42 with portal axles enters series production.

2017

With its superlative V12 engine, portal axles, electric fabric top and exclusive equipment specification in the rear compartment, this Mercedes-Maybach G 650 Landaulet, which is limited to 99 units, meets the expectations of customers who demand the very highest standards of their vehicle.

2018

The new G-Class celebrates its premiere at the North American International Auto Show in Detroit. With its unmistakeably edge exterior and fundamentally restyled interior it sets technological standards yet again. On-road the G-Class reinvents itself – with modern assistance systems, outstanding handling and optimum safety. Off-road it surpasses itself: the new suspension, the DYNAMIC SELECT drive programs, the "G-Mode" and the three 100-percent differential locks enhance performance, ride comfort and agility – on any surface.

2019

The G-Class turns 40, the AMG variant celebrates its 20th birthday this year. Mercedes celebrates its off-road icon with three special models. Thanks to the new individualisation range G manufaktur, customers can turn the G-Class into their own personal G. Around 15 kilometres south of Graz the G-Class Experience Centre opens: on the site of over 100,000 m2 customers and fans can drive the G-Class for themselves in extreme conditions on two off-road sections, the G-Rock with various approach ramps and an on-road area.

* The stated figures were determined in accordance with the prescribed measuring method. They constitute the "NEDC CO2 values" pursuant to Article 2 No. 1 Implementing Regulation (EU) 2017/1153. The fuel consumption figures were calculated based on these figures

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