It’s a LOT roomier
About bloody time. The G-Wagen was designed in the late 1970s when apparently, people didn’t have elbows. For such a large car there’s a comically hemmed-in feel to sitting up inside one, hunched behind the steering wheel, ear hard-up against the door window like a private detective in a motel.
The new G-Class (it’s not a Wagen any more, because it’s posh) sits on an all-new platform specifically designed for the car. That’s a fabulously, insanely expensive move for Mercedes to make. When I ask Mercedes bods including head of G-Class, Gunnar Guthenke, how much it cost to build an entirely new chassis upon which to wrap a body that looks basically identical to the current G-Class, they all clam up, look away, and scuff their shoes.
And then, when prodded, mumble something about it being ‘even more than you’d think’. But, Mercedes doesn’t want to make the same mortal error as Land rover – i.e., letting crash legislation catch up with your most iconic vehicle, until the point it can’t be built any more. The G-Wagen has to regenerate to avoid going the way of the Defender. And its faithful buyers want more space, and need better crash protection. So, they’ve got it.
If you want the maths, you’ve got 150mm more rear legroom, 38mm more shoulder room, and 68mm more elbow room. But because it remains boxier than a Rubik’s cube and the indicators sit helpfully atop the wings, it ought to be no trickier to park.
Meanwhile, one of the top customer requests was more stowage. The G-Class was invented before mobile phones existed. The new one has more cubby holes and sockets to hide and charge them. That’s the whole philosophy of the new G summed up, really. Make it 21st century-relevant, but keep the character…