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Mercedes G-Class reaches for new heights

Geneva Motor Show G500 4x4² showcar to gauge public acceptance for production

Published: February 22, 2015, 6:20 AM
Updated: April 29, 2018, 2:05 PM

Mercedes-Benz G500 4x4 showcar

Mercedes-Benz G500 4x4 showcar - Mercedes-Benz G500 4x4 showcar nameplate

Mercedes-Benz is getting ready to create the next G-Class off-roader and borrowing what it learned from one of the most unusual sport-utility vehicles on the market.

The Mercedes G500 4x4² gets its elevated chassis from the G63 AMG 6x6 the company introduced in 2012 and which was recently taken out of production after notching just 100 sales (production ended to maintain exclusivity, claims Mercedes).

That pickup-like extreme off-roader was best known for its six wheels, three axles and five differentials. And, of course, a twin-turbo 5.5-litre V8 that made 536 horsepower and 561 lb.ft. of torque.

Mercedes-Benz G63 AMG 6x6

The G500 4x4² (four by four squared) borrows the 6x6’s  all-wheel drivetrain and portal axles; just two of them, though. Portal axles use a gear set at each wheel to position the wheel hub below the axle, increasing ground clearance substantially. Slap on a set of 22 inch wheels and knobby 325/55R22 off-road tires, and you get a ground clearance of over 17.5 inches. Mercedes calls it an overcomer of everything.

In comparison to the current G500 long wheelbase model, the G500 4x4² more than doubles ground clearance (the G500 rides on 18-inch wheels and tires with a slightly reduced sidewall height) and can ford into water a metre deep. The elevated floor also increases angles of approach (the angle from the ground in front of the tire to the front bumper, indicating how steep of a slope the vehicle can climb), break-over (the angle from the point where tires touch the surface to the centre point between the axles) and departure (same as approach but at the rear), with side exhausts aiding the ground clearance and angle of departure.

And although it retains the current G500’s wheelbase, the portal axles also help create a wider track; and not just slightly wider ... nearly a full foot wider!

Mercedes-Benz G500 4x4 showcar

Power is provided by an all-new 422-hp direct injected 4.0-litre biturbo V8 with the turbochargers contained within the V-angle of the compact engine. Also new is the chassis with dual spring/damper struts and adjustable damping.

The damping system is derived from rallying and features two spring/damper struts at each wheel. One is set and runs conventionally; the second is electronically controlled via a button in the cockpit to vary the damping between “comfort,” to smooth out the undulations in terrain, and “sport” to firm up the cornering attitude. The switch between modes reportedly only takes 15 milliseconds, and in a detected emergency manoeuvre, the adjustable damper automatically firms up to control body sway and help the driver maintain control.

The interior is also unique, with a combination of black leather seats and trim with white stitching and microfibre inserts to help keep things tidy. The white stitched, black leather motif is carried over to the dash, armrests and centre console, while the DINAMICA microfibre diamond-quilted coverings are used in door trim and headliner.

Mercedes says the showcar, with its carbon-fibre body parts, is nearly production ready and is set to be introduced to the public at the coming Geneva Motor Show to gauge public opinion. Graz, Austria would be the build locale for the G500 4x4², if it is approved for production.