The G-Class in international media

Feb 12, 2019

On 17 February 1979, British car magazine “Autocar” explained to its readers with evident joy what the letter in the model designation of the new off-road vehicle stood for: “The ‘G’ stands for the complex word ‘Geländefahrzeug’, which in turn might be translated as Go-anywhere-car”.

Even before the official press launch in Toulon, Austrian “ autorevue” magazine portrayed the G-model in the February 1979 issue. The article also provided insights into the complex development that included test drives on Schöckl Mountain and their simulation in Untertürkheim: “The best off-road drivers of Puch and Mercedes drove the car up the Schöckl, with the rear compartment being filled with complicated recording devices that created magnetic tapes for the hydropulse test rig in the Mercedes Development Centre Untertürkheim. The hydropulse test rig comprises four hydraulic pistons, which raise and lower the vehicle sitting on them on a torture track to match the tape recordings”.

Car magazine “auto motor und sport” wrote on 14 February 1979 in issue 4/1979 under the headline “G wie Gelände” (G as in grounds): “The development of the Mercedes G-model was not about a single car, but about a large family of models. Off-road vehicles must be capable of everything. Customer wishes range from open leisure vehicles to fire brigades or emergency ambulances”. And about the conceptual design, it said: “The Mercedes constructors also dared to go back to the past of automotive construction when it came to the choice of the weight-bearing elements: the G-models have a classic frame for a chassis. This design not only means fewer constraints in designing different vehicle bodies. It also guarantees the mostly long-serving off-road cars a high chance of survival even under unfavourable climatic conditions and with minimal care”.

News magazine “Der Spiegel” reported about the premiere of the G in the issue of 12 February 1979. Among other things, the article explained the drivetrain of the G-models and compared it to the existing range of available off-road vehicles: the G-models have “for example, unlike the others, a second transmission specifically for driving off-road. A differential lock for the front and for the rear wheels can be engaged additionally that prevents one-sided wheel spin. And the differential lock of the off-road gear can even be engaged on the fly – comparable shifting would make the gears of the competitors crumble”.

The English “Evening Standard” classified the G-model as a rival of the Land Rover on 9 February 1979: “31 years after we did it first with the Land Rover, a major continental car maker has challenged us in the off-road vehicle stakes”.

On 16 February 1979, “KFZ Anzeiger” journal wrote this about the design of the newly presented G under the subhead “No sheet metal gimmicks”: “The lines of the Mercedes-Benz-off-road vehicles were given a markedly functional design. The shape of the angular wheel arches, the generously sized windows, and the ease of access were dictated by the function”.

“Mud-plugging Mercs” was the headline in British “Motor” magazine on 17 February 1979 about the presentation of the G-model. The test drives were summed up like this: “How, then, does the new Geländewagen measure up? Briefly, the answer is that it will almost certainly prove to be one of the world’s finest small off-road vehicles, and even in its cheapest forms it is markedly superior to the Land Rover in comfort and refinement”.

“Auto-Zeitung” magazine described the comprehensive potential of the G-model on 21 February 1979 under the headline “A draught horse from two stables”: the lead already portrayed the G as “a car for off-road and for driving to the opera”.

“Lastauto-Omnibus” trade journal from March 1979 acknowledged the power transmission of the G: “Both all-wheel drive as well as differential locks can be engaged on the fly, so that difficult terrain can be tackled with momentum and without stopping”.

In the April 1979 issue, “Lastauto-Omnibus” then played with the code name “Haflinger II” borrowed from an Alpine horse breed, under which the G had been developed in the 1970s. It read: “The constructors of both companies knew how to marry the contrary characteristics of a robust and docile cold-blooded horse with that of a sensitive, fast show-jumping mare, and they did so in impressive fashion. Even a careful survey of the off-road-capable cars from the USA, Japan, England, and the Eastern bloc is unlikely to come up with a design that in the sum of all its features offers as much as the new G-model with the Mercedes star or the Puch emblem, respectively, at the bow”.

“Verkehrs-Rundschau” journal on 3 March 1979 paid tribute to the G-model with regard to its handling: “On the road, the vehicles in connection with the chosen wheel suspension comprising trailing arms and wishbones, coil springs, and shock absorbers deliver amazingly comfortable and safe handling”.

In May 1979, “Krafthand” magazine summarized the unique market position of the G like this: “With the presentation of the new off-road vehicle from Daimler-Benz, for the first time a vehicle model has arrived on the market that has optimal on-road and off-road capabilities. They offer above-average comfort, but are also made for the toughest use”.

“auto motor und sport” car magazine published a test report of the 230 G and 280 GE models under the headline “Champion of the Woods” in issue 1/1981 on 14 January 1981. About the ride quality of the 280 GE on the road, it said: “The straight-line stability even at 150 km/h and the cornering must be rated exemplary safe in the comparison of off-road vehicles”.

North American “Road & Track” car magazine wrote in the July 1995 issue about the fascinating G-Class, which Mercedes-Benz itself at the time did not offer yet in the North American market: “ If the Geländewagen’s flat-sided styling doesn’t meet contemporary design trends, one has to look deeper. Much of the G-wagen’s beauty lies beneath the surface”.

Swiss “Automobil Revue” journal from 24 April 1997 wrote about the engine of the G 300 Turbodiesel, which was marketed under the Puch brand for the Swiss market: “Even though the engine is not averse to work, it exhibits extremely civilised manners. It orchestrates the drive in the G 300 TD with low vibrations and a pleasant background noise”.

“auto motor und sport” magazine in issue 8/2002 from 3 April 2002 highlighted the all-wheel-drive system of the G in a comparison test of several off-road vehicles: “Equipped with on-demand 100-percent locks not only for the centre differential, but also for the differentials in both axles, it uses highly complex mechanics”.

“Auto Bild” magazine, issue 28/2002, wrote about the G as a classic under the headline “A Mercedes for generations”: “For almost 23 years, it has proudly worn the angular charm of the late Seventies like a medal, reliably rolls over hill and dale, serves as a puller for owners of boats and horses. And remains completely unaffected by fashion trends. But angles alone do not automatically make an evergreen. A G brings more talents to the table”.

“Spiegel Online” touched upon the star factor of the G-Class in a review of the G on 28 May 2004: “Eric Clapton drives one, so does Tina Turner, and even the Pope used it to make his way through the flock of believers. The Mercedes G-Class has been the epitome of a German off-road vehicle for 25 years”.

Car magazine “mot” wrote in issue 9/2004: “The Mercedes G has changed completely in 25 years, but has remained the same. It can make it for decades longer with this trick”.

“Automobil Revue” paid tribute to ride quality of the G-Class using the example of the G 500 on 12 September 2007: “On the road, the G 500 pampers its passengers with an amazingly high level of ride quality. Despite two rigid axles and the chassis designed for maximum off-road capabilities, even long stretches in the motorway and interurban roads can be driven without stress”.

On the occasion of the 30th anniversary of the G, the website wrote on 10 April 2009: “The Mercedes G-model still occupies a firm place as a (recovery) vehicle for armed forces, emergency services, police, and fire brigades. The veteran of practical off-road vehicles has proven itself in the last three decades and was optimised for daily tough use with all sorts of comfort features”.

“Auto Bild Allrad” magazine dedicated a chronicle to the G in its March 2009 issue on the occasion of its 30th anniversary titled “Legends live longer”. With a view to the pending facelift of the 463 model series in 2010, the article concluded about the future of the G-Class: “And then production will cheerfully continue – so that nothing should get in the way of another big anniversary of the angular box”.

“auto motor und sport” in issue 23 from 22 October 2009 described the best way to get in a G using the example of the EDITION30.PUR special model based on the G 280 CDI of the model series 461: “Getting in requires a certain body control – it starts with one hand on the steering wheel and one foot on the floor panel. In phase two, the body is then elegantly heaved to the height of the seat bench”. As early as on 14 July 2009, the website wrote about the special model: “ The driving sensation in the Edition Pur differs more than you would think from the once more recently facelifted 463-series G-model. It is a little louder, the steering feels somewhat lighter, and it smells of rubber floor mats rather than of leather. Despite the restricted output, the derated common-rail diesel goes perkily about its job, this is anything but underpowered”.

On 11 March 2012, Swiss “Automobil Revue” magazine wrote about the G 500 of the 463 model series: “The Mercedes G built for over 30 years is a car as if from another world – an original, of which only few are left”.

The website portrayed the G 63 AMG on 29 May 2012. About the interior, it said: “The cockpit covered in fine leather in nearly every available spot achieves a value appeal with model year 2012 that needs not hide from the S-Class. The most conspicuous feature is the large colour screen that thrones atop the redesigned centre console. Indispensable for the standard-fit Comand Online system, whose computing power by now can give home PCs a run for their money – including internet access” .

The website wrote about the universal talent G-Class on 11 January 2013: “It is capable of pretty much anything. It spares no effort. And lasts an eternity”.

On the occasion of the 35th anniversary of the G, the website published a story about the test of the G-model on Schöckl Mountain on 1 February 2014: “The first prototypes of the G arrived in the mid-1970s, followed by pre-production models and later all development stages. Whenever there was a new engine or chassis modifications, the cars had to survive 4000 kilometres on the Schöckl, which translates into about 300,000 kilometres in normal life”.

The “Frankfurter Allgemeine Zeitung” newspaper in its online presence wrote about the history of the G under the headline “It is G-ratifying” on 12 November 2015: “The G has been there hardly unchanged for 36 years now and promises to heave its heavy metal along with the driver through thick and thin. The earth is more likely to become angular than the G round”.

“auto motor und sport” wrote about a test drive in the new G-Class generation of the 463 model series on legendary Schöckl Mountain in Graz on 4 January 2018: “In actuality, the new G-Class on the tour de force ride downhill feels as planted and solid as the predecessor”. It continued: “Mercedes has not saved on off-road technology on the first completely new G-model series since 1979, on the contrary. It still has three differential locks for centre differential and axles, and the off-road reduction gear was shortened from 2.1 to 2.9:1 – a top figure in the off-road environment”.

“Spiegel Online” reported about the new generation of the Mercedes-Benz G-Class under the headline “As G as ever” on 15 January 2018: “You have to [...] look very closely and put your hand on the windscreen that for the first time is slightly curved to tell the new G-Class from the old: the big round eyes, the top-mounted indicators on the bonnet, the rustic door handles, the outside-mounted spare wheel on the side-hinged rear-end door – what really constitutes the square box from Graz is also found immediately on the new model”.

“Autorevue” magazine from Austria wrote about the new G-Class in issue 2/2018: You hear the word icon more often in connection with the G than New York is referred to as the Big Apple or Tina Turner as the grandmother of rock. That is because Mercedes figuratively has taken the word of Pascal to heart as regards the design [of the G-Class]: All of humanity’s problems stem from man’s inability to sit quietly in a room alone”.

US blogger “Jalopnik” commented on 4 January 2018 on the new G-Class: “Long the preferred choice of Russian gangsters, hip-hop moguls and off-roading one-percenters, the Mercedes G-Class SUV has been an icon since it launched in the 1970s. Despite its undeniably cool looks, it still largely drove like a 1970s car thanks to modest upgrades over the decades. No more. The G-Class is basically all-new for 2019”.

The online version of the British magazine “Car” commented on the new G-Class on 4 May 2018: “Giant twin 12.3” digital displays are standard in UK models [...] and all the latest Merc trickery is present and correct. So you can now enjoy Apple CarPlay to sync your phone, skip around the menus using wheel-mounted thumb trackpads and there’s even a wifi hotspot. On a G-wagen! Oh, and there’s still a sturdy grab handle in front of the passenger, as a permanent reminder that this car is still all about scaling serious inclines more than the next playlist”.

On 21 September 2018, the online magazine “Mercedes Fans” commented on the new G-Class of the 463 model series: “From a visual point of view, the G-Class has hardly changed in 40 years. There has been a bit of cosmetic adjustment here and there from one model series to the next, but on the whole the G-Class has always remained the G-Class. But why does this work so well with the G-Class? The buyers don’t seem to be getting enough. It was only in 2016 that there was a record year for the G (20,000 units sold). The fact that the G-Class has now achieved cult status is due to the actual role of the G-Class: ‘Form follows function’, i.e. the car was built 40 years ago to fill a certain function, a specific role: all-terrain, good overview thanks to the angular shape, easy to repair and at the same time with a strong recognition value. Every Mercedes fan knew then and still knows without hesitation: Look, here comes a G-Class!”

On 7 May 2018, the “Auto Zeitung” said this online about the new G-Class: “And so the new Mercedes G-Class (2018) has become an icon with no end in sight, even 39 years after its premiere”.

The industry portal “Automobil Produktion” reported on 18 May 2018 on the start of production of the new Mercedes-Benz G-Class at Magna Steyr in Graz: “According to Daimler, the physical proximity between the Daimler subsidiary Mercedes-Benz G GmbH, also based in Graz, and the Magna Steyr plant enables numerous synergies thanks to a well-established, high level of networking between development, technology, prototype workshop, testing and series production. The highlight of the location is the test track on Graz’s local mountain Schöckl, which is unrivalled worldwide: here, one test kilometre corresponds to a load of 50 kilometres in real operation”.

The website of the daily newspaper “Die Welt” had this to say about continuity in the history of the Mercedes-Benz G-Class on May 5 2018: “At first glance, the new Mercedes G-Class might be mistaken for just a particularly extensive facelift of the 463 model series that has built since 1989.” The review continued with the off-road characteristics of the new 463 model series G-Class: “Despite all the new comfort features, the G-Class has remained a true off-road monster. Above all, the ‘G mode’ in the G 500, which is activated when any of the three one-hundred per cent differential locks is engaged, makes it obvious that the ‘ G’ is definitely not a normal SUV, but a really tough all-terrain vehicle. With a fording depth of 70 centimetres and a ground clearance of 24 centimetres, there are few driving situations that could cause the ‘G’ to break its stride”.

The US “Motortrend” portal wrote about the new Mercedes-Benz G-Class on 4 May 2018: “Being successful the first time around is tough, but it’s even harder following up an initial smash success. When the pressure is on, it’s easy to screw up. [...] The legendary G-Class has seen plenty of minor tweaks over the years, but the 2019 Mercedes-Benz G 550 and Mercedes-AMG G 63 represent Benz’s first attempt at a second G-Wagen. It’s always daunting, reinventing an icon. But Mercedes nailed it”.

The online version of the “Rheinische Post” headed its review “ Mercedes-Benz G-Class – a brick and a feeling” on 9 May 2018: “ You’re not just buying a car here, you are also buying a tradition, an image and a feeling. The G feeling”.

The online magazine of the British “Top Gear” programme wrote in 2018 this about the new Mercedes-Benz G-Class: “Off-road is still the focus, because authenticity comes from ability“.

The „Frankfurter Rundschau“ acknowledged the cautious but future-orientated transformation of the genes making up the G model in its online edition on 16 May 2018. It commented on the design of the new model series 463 G-Class: “Mercedes has resisted the temptation to update the design and has only subtly retouched the square box made in Graz. But while the shape has only marginally evolved and there are now actually some delicate curves between the many corners and edges, the format of the G-Class has changed dramatically: The G is five centimetres longer, six centimetres wider and four centimetres higher inside. This not only gives the car better proportions. The new format finally creates a little space in the interior. You can now sit next to each other without rubbing shoulders, and the back seat with its tilting backrest is now also suitable for adults – especially since the door cut-outs have been changed after 39 years so that you can now even get into the back with shoe size 40 and without any major dislocations”.

The “Frankfurter Allgemeine Zeitung” wrote in its online issue of 16 May 2018 about the off-road and on-road driving characteristics of the new G-Class: “As we noticed when driving in the test area, the new version can actually do everything a little better than the already talented predecessor, both on the road and also off the road”.

“Auto Express” from Great Britain commented on the new G-Class on 4 May 2018: “If you wanted a Mercedes G-Class before, you’ll want one even more now. It’s better on and off road, while interior ergonomics, quality and functionality are all up to the standards we’ve come to expect from the firm”.

With its humorous headline “Gt moving”, “Spiegel Online” headed its report on the new 463 model series G-Class on 5 May 2018. Some comments: “The revolution in the G-Class takes place inside. While you will hardly notice the changes to the bodywork from the outside, a new world awaits you inside the car. First of all, the car is now six centimetres wider, five centimetres longer and has been given larger door cutouts. In other words: ergonomics and head, shoulder and knee room have been improved. Even the rear seat – now even with an adjustable tilting backrest – is a penalty bench no more. In addition, the body is now so well insulated that you can converse without having to shout even outside built-up areas. We are convinced everyone will welcome these improvements”.

The “Auto Zeitung” reported from an ongoing test with the new G-Class on 8 October 2018 in its online edition: “The Mercedes G 500 (2018) under test has some large footsteps to follow. The G-Class is an icon that has been setting standards for 40 years as a combination of a rugged off-roader and a comfortable touring car. But the leap into the modern age was long overdue – even if this expensive all-wheel metal box sold a good 20,000 times a year. Fortunately, Mercedes has shown a fair amount of emotion with the new edition“. A first summary was unequivocal: „The fact that the new G is still based on a massive ladder frame made of more than six millimetres thick steel, can easily cope with 3.5 tonnes on the hook and, thanks to the reduction gear synchronised up to 70 km/h, can do even more than the previous model in difficult terrain, should convince even the most sceptical doubters” .

The “Road & Track” magazine wrote about the new Mercedes-Benz G-Class in its online edition on 29 May 2018: “The G’s rough-terrain capabilities may be digitally controlled now, but they’re based on old-school principles”.

The Austrian “autorevue” wrote in its issue 9/2018: “Take note, here comes the production car with the most outrageous range of possible talents. High hills meet deep pile carpets. The fact that this does not tear the Mercedes G apart is due to its extremely tough structure. [...] The result is a cube with a box added on. [...] The box is then interwoven with everything Mercedes feels is sophisticated, valuable, complex, extravagant, firm and electronic”.

Specialist magazine “auto motor und sport” wrote in its 2018 special edition “40 years of the Mercedes G-Class” about the new version: “Although the new edition has improved in terms of space, comfort and safety, it has remained a true G-Class – a pillar of strength, a monument to durability in an unsure world, a breath of eternity in fast-moving times. Maybe that’s why we like the G most, because it’s the way we would like to be”.