New Merc G-Class embraces modern age

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IOL mot ST apr11 gclass c

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Formidable off-roader maintains its tough mechanicals and old-fashioned styling.

The G-Class may look like a stone age relic next to all of the contemporary products in the Mercedes-Benz stable, but its tough-as-nails build quality and go-anywhere ability have earned it a significant fan base since it was first introduced in 1979.

To keep these fans happy, the German carmaker did not mess too heavily with that recipe when designing the new model that you see here.

STILL TOUGH? OF COURSE

Not only does it still have all the virtues its fans expect beneath the skin, like a sturdy ladder-frame chassis, three electronically controlled diff locks and rigid axles, but barring a few smallish details, the exterior design has barely changed since 1979.

In fact the only visual tributes that the 2013 model makes to the modern era are a set of LED daytime running lights and sleeker wing mirrors. AMG versions also receive a new grille with double louvers as well as bespoke bumpers and 20-inch rims that house red brake callipers.

The big changes happen inside the cabin where the first thing you'll notice is the completely redesigned instrument cluster and centre console. Occupants in the front will now stare at a colour screen between two round dials and some new trim materials that were created to give the G-Class a classier feel.

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It gains a sophisticated new interior with internet access.

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OFF-ROAD NAVIGATION

Occupants will be able to access the internet via a sophisticated Comand Online infotainment system, which includes a voice-operated control system and Bluetooth wireless connectivity. This gizmo also incorporates a navigation system with special off-road functions, on which Mercedes-Benz is not elaborating for now.

The C-Class has also raided the Mercedes passenger car parts bin to offer some new high-tech options like Distronic Plus, Blind Sport Assist and the Parktronic parking aid with reverse camera.

BIG PONIES FOR G63

Big news on the engine front is that the G63 AMG replaces the G55 and uses Merc's new bi-turbo V8, which is good for 406kW and 760Nm in this guise. AMG has even installed an idle-stop system to help appease its otherwise gluttonous fuel consumption.

The thriftier option in the range is the G 350 BlueTec, fitted with a 3-litre V6 diesel engine with 157kW and 540Nm on tap between 1600 and 2400rpm. This engine is mated to a seven-speed 7G-Tronic automatic gearbox.

The release makes no mention of the 135kW G 300 Professional model that is offered in the current range.

The new G-Class goes on sale in most overseas markets in the third-quarter of this year, so South Africans will hopefully get to see it before the year is out.


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