Mercedes-Benz named 2019’s most influential car brand

Mercedes-Benz influential car brand

Mercedes-Benz has been named the most influential car brand by a social media agency in Scotland.

The agency looked at the social accounts for the major car brands, before calculating the total followers across Facebook, Twitter, Instagram and YouTube.

With 48,133,119 fans and followers, Mercedes-Benz finishes top, ahead of BMW (46,284,467) and Volkswagen (41,587,168) in second and third place.

Whether or not true ‘influence’ can be judged purely on number of followers is up for discussion. However, there’s no doubt that the three German brands are big players in social circles.

With 34 million Twitter followers, Volkswagen leads the way in the automotive sector, while BMW tops the Instagram table with 23 million fans. 

Mercedes EQC owner

But Mercedes-Benz only manages to finish 27th overall, making it a relative minnow in comparison to some non-automotive brands.

National Geographic leads the way with a mammoth 202,817,271 followers and fans, making it the most influential brand in the eyes of Pilotfish Media.

Next up is Samsung (180,880,818), followed by Nike (134,840,198), NBA (118,371,052) and Coca-Cola (116,650,534).

Top 10 most influential car brands


Most influential brands overall

Looking at brands overall, Pilotfish Media claims these are the most influential:

  • Most influential brand: National Geographic
  • Most influential sector: Sport
  • Most influential brand on Facebook: Samsung
  • Most influential brand on Twitter: NBA
  • Most influential brand on Instagram: National Geographic
  • Most influential brand on YouTube: National Geographic

Click here to see the table in full.

The 10 new tech features Mercedes-Benz has introduced in 2019

New Mercedes-Benz tech

Nobody could accuse Mercedes-Benz of standing still. Ever since Karl Benz presented the Patent Motor Car in 1886, the company has consistently pushed boundaries.

Indeed, Mercedes-Benz has registered more than 80,000 patents to date.

Examples of its innovation include the electronically controlled anti-lock braking system (ABS) in 1978, an automatically extending rollover bar in 1989, and electronic stability control (ESP) in 1995.

In a kind of end-of-year Christmas ‘best of’ round-up, Mercedes-Benz is showcasing 10 new technologies it has introduced for the 2020 model year.

Mercedes Energising Coach

MBUX with Interior Assistant

A camera in the overhead console monitors movements of the driver’s and front passenger’s hands and arms. When a hand approaches the touchscreen or touchpad, the media display changes and individual elements are highlighted. The system also includes gesture control.

E-Active Body Control

Works in combination with the air suspension  to counteract body roll, pitch and squat. The spring and damping forces can be individually controlled at each wheel.

Carwash Function

In simple terms, this system prepares the car for the car wash by adjusting the suspension to the highest position, folding the exterior mirrors, closing the windows, suppressing the rain-sensor and switching the air conditioning to air-recirculation mode. It will be standard on the next-generation GLS. 

Fully-variable 4Matic

The system can vary torque distribution between the front and rear axle from zero to 100 percent to improve handling and traction. The system is premiering on the GLE. 

V8 engine with 48-volt system

The twin-turbocharged V8 in the GLE 580 and GLS 580 features a 48-volt on-board electrical system and an integrated starter motor. This increases the performance and efficiency while eliminating the need for a belt drive for ancillary components.

New entry-level ‘35’ variant

Mercedes-Benz has introduced a new entry-level version to the AMG range. The ‘35’ is powered by a 2.0-litre four-cylinder engine and is available on the A-Class and CLA. Meanwhile, the ‘45’ version is powered by the world’s most powerful four-cylinder engine.

Active Stop-and-Go Assist

The system recognises traffic jams at an earlier state, supporting the stop-start system at speeds of up to 37mph.

Cross-Traffic Function

The system intervenes if it detects a collision with oncoming traffic when making a turn.

Vehicle Exit Warning Function

New models fitted with Blind Spot Assist will boast a Vehicle Exit Warning Function. It monitors the blind spot when the vehicle is parked and will warn the driver of the presence of approaching vehicles, motorcyclists and cyclists.

Energising Coach

If a compatible Garmin wearable device is worn by the driver, the car can measure stress levels or quality of sleep. It acts as a comfort guide for drivers.

To find your next new Mercedes-Benz, check out our car reviews section.

Mercedes-AMG GT 63S 4-Door review: heavy metal thunder

Mercedes-AMG GT63S

Pity the poor Mercedes-Benz salesperson. The world’s oldest car company lists no fewer than 33 separate models on its UK website, from A-Class hatchback to S-Class limousine. Factor in engines, trim levels and optional extras, and the list of potential combinations is… a lot.

Such bountiful choice results in overlap between many models, too. Want a small, swoopy-looking saloon? Pick from the A-Class saloon and CLA. Want a large swoopy-looking saloon? Step forward the CLS and AMG GT 4-Door. The latter car – which I’ve been driving this week – is a conundrum in its own right. Named after the AMG GT supercar, it shares its platform with the E-Class and CLS. Oh, and it actually has five doors. Go figure.

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If all that sounds more confusing than the beer menu at Oktoberfest, the result is something quite spectacular. This four-seat family car (of sorts) has more power than a McLaren F1. Driving all four wheels via a nine-speed auto ’box, its 639hp twin-turbo V8 delivers 0-62mph in 3.2sec and nigh-on 200mph. You could lose your licence and end up behind bars without getting beyond third gear.

A rippled bonnet and Hannibal Lecter grille endow the 4-Door with formidable rear-view-mirror presence, although it’s less athletic from other angles. Inside is where it really makes a statement, with widescreen digital displays, a jutting centre console, animated switch graphics and 64-colour ambient lighting. At night, my car’s cabin was bathed in neon pink and purple, an effect somewhere between Blade Runner and a seedy German strip club. Or how I imagine such an establishment, at least. Ahem.

No question, though, this is one of the best interiors of any new car – even for passengers sat in the two sculpted rear seats (a three-person bench is optional). Mercedes has finally trumped arch-rival Audi at its own game, blending daring design with build quality to shame the Berlin Wall. The only disappointment is the new touchpad interface for the media system, which replaces a vastly more intuitive clickwheel. Try changing a playlist at your peril.

Thankfully, the blood-and-thunder V8 is all the soundtrack you need. It exhales through four tailpipes with a belligerent bellow, piling on speed with psychotic intensity. Throttle response feels exuberant and there’s ample four-wheel-drive traction, backed up by belt-and-braces suite of active safety systems. Navigate several sub-menus and the daring/deranged can also select Drift Mode, which effectively makes the car rear-wheel drive. I had stern words with my inner hooligan and left well alone.

Mercedes-AMG GT63S

I suspect few cars could devour a derestricted Autobahn quite like a GT 63S. However, it’s also agile and engaging at sensible speeds, helped by precise steering and a keen chassis. Around town, the rear wheels turn in the opposite direction to the fronts to aid manoeuvrability, then in faster corners all four wheels swivel in the same direction to improve stability. There’s also selection of drive modes from Comfort to Race, with numerous configurations in-between. Mercedes-Benz does like offering choice, after all.

Apart from its £135,550 cost and 22.1mpg thirst (low teens if you enjoy yourself), the only downside here is the restless ride. Three-chamber active air suspension quashes body-roll, keeping the car poised and planted, but the pay-off is a fidgety feel at odds with the ‘GT’ side of the AMG’s character. If you want comfort, both the CLS and S-Class fit the bill better.

The AMG GT 4-door, though, defies such level-headed logic. A Porsche Panamera Turbo S E-Hybrid is more rounded and no less rapid. And, if you can sacrifice two doors, the Bentley Continental GT is even more louche and luxurious. Yet for sheer chutzpah, nothing tops the bombastic AMG. Here’s one car that sells itself.

Price: £135,550

0-62mph: 3.2sec

Top speed: 196mph

CO2 G/KM: 257

MPG combined: 21.4-22.1

Mercedes-AMG GT 63S 4-Door: in pictures

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Girls given toy cars to combat gender stereotypes

Matchbox Mercedes-Benz car

Mercedes-Benz is donating 50,000 toy cars to young girls across America.

It’s part of a plan to challenge gender stereotypes while encouraging girls to pursue science, technology, engineering and maths (STEM) careers.

More than 100 organisations will engineer toy racetracks, design cars, engage with female role models and attend STEM workshops. The aim: to expand how girls see their future.

Research show that women represent 29 percent of the current science and engineering workforce in the United States. When pressed for reasons for not majoring in STEM subjects, young women cite a lack of encouragement and role models.

Which is why Mercedes-Benz, in partnership with Mattel and the National Girls Collaborative Project (NGCP), launched the No Limits initiative.

The 50,000 girls participating in the No Limits project will be given a Matchbox Mercedes-Benz 220 SE toy car.

It was in this car that Ewy Rosqvist and co-driver Ursula Wirth became the first all-female crew to win a major rally. In 1962, Rosqvist won the Argentinian Touring Car Grand Prix, finishing over three hours ahead of the rest of the field.

‘Question the gender stereotypes’

Mercedes-Benz toy cars USA

“Whatever they aspire to be – an astronaut, engineer, judge, nurse, even the President, we want all children to dream big, dream bold and never give up on that dream,” said Mark Aikman, general manager of marketing services for Mercedes-Benz USA.

“We’ve seen that stories like Ewy’s – championing women trailblazers and achievers – can have a big impact by calling into question the gender stereotypes that children may inadvertently adopt.”

Karen Peterson, founder and CEO of NGCP, added: “The No Limits initiative is important to the future success of our young girls.

“Demand for workers with STEM-based skills is rapidly growing, yet women are still significantly underrepresented in these fields. We know that gender associations are formed at a very young age. We applaud Mercedes-Benz and Mattel in their efforts to breakdown the gender stereotypes that keep young girls from engaging in STEM studies.”

If you’re not one of the 50,000 girls who’ll be gifted a Matchbox Mercedes, the toy car will be sold in stores across America from December. Just in time for Christmas… 

Mercedes-AMG A35 review: 306hp hot hatch takes on Golf R

Mercedes-Benz AMG A35

The hot hatch has reached boiling point. Mercedes recently revealed a new AMG A45, with the most powerful four-cylinder engine ever. Its scorching 416hp bests a 288 GTO – Ferrari’s mid-1980s poster car – in a game of Top Trumps, and could mean 0-62mph in less than four seconds.

A supercar-slaying hatchback was unthinkable back in 1974, when the Simca 1100 Ti first screeched into showrooms. Arguably the origin of the species, it eked out 82hp from a 1.3-litre twin-carb engine – good for 60mph in 12 seconds. The 110hp Volkswagen Golf GTI debuted soon afterwards, bringing power to the people like never before, hotly pursued by the 128hp Peugeot 205 1.9 GTI. By 1992, the Ford Escort RS Cosworth mustered a mighty 227hp, on par with a contemporary Porsche 911.

Read more Motoring Research reviews FIRST on City AM

Today, even the lowliest Golf GTI outguns the classic Cossie, while outputs beyond 300hp are routine. Yet the horsepower race has, ironically, left a gap for something (slightly) more sensible. Meet the Mercedes-AMG A35, which slots below the ballistic A45 as Affalterbach’s entry-level offering. Could it be all the hot hatch you really need?

Mercedes-Benz AMG A35

Let’s start with the spec: a 306hp turbocharged four-pot, seven-speed paddleshift transmission and four-wheel drive. The suspension has solid mounts to sharpen response, tyres are bespoke 19-inch Pirelli P Zeros and the four-piston brakes are borrowed from the A45. Our car also sported the AMG Style bodykit, with motorsport-style canards sprouting from the front bumper, a high-rise rooftop wing and a functional rear diffuser. I’d save the £2,595, choose a paint colour other than Sun Yellow and go incognito.

Wild or mild, the A35 actually looks best from the inside. This is hands-down the classiest cabin of any hot hatch, with superb quality and game-changing tech. Highlights include two giant widescreen displays, ‘augmented reality’ sat nav that overlays directions onto a video feed from the front-facing camera, plus a voice control system that responds when you say “Hey Mercedes”. There’s a caveat, though: most of this must-have kit costs extra. You’re even asked £495 for Apple Carplay and Android Auto phone connectivity. The £35,580 base price of our A35 had swollen to £43,660 by the time options were factored in.

If you hoped for a headstrong hooligan in the mould of AMG’s V8 models, you may be disappointed. This is a point-and-squirt sort of car, with punchy power delivery, snappy twin-clutch shifts and all-wheel traction. Select Sport or Sport+ modes and more torque is diverted to the rear wheels, yet the chassis remains planted rather than playful. More ‘Golf R’ than ‘Type R’, in other words.

Mercedes-Benz AMG A35

Much of the time, that slight detachment is welcome, making the A35 comfortable and easy to live with. Unlike some cars of its ilk (here’s looking at you, Renault Megane RS), it doesn’t constantly shout about how sporty it is. Occasionally, you may wish for a malleability and a magic that isn’t quite there – perhaps a less civilised soundtrack, too. But you’ll rarely hanker for more speed. On British B-roads, most drivers this side of Lewis Hamilton will cover ground more confidently – and likely more quickly – in this baby Benz than AMG’s flagship GT supercar.

Mercedes has pitched the A35 perfectly. It’s not madcap enough to overshadow the upcoming A45, nor is it too sober to justify an AMG badge. Like the now-ubiquitous Golf R, it serves up driving fun, practicality and car-park kudos in a well-rounded package. It’s a car for the North Coast 500 and the North Circular. And that, surely, is what hot hatchbacks were all about in the first place.

Price: £35,580

0-60mph: 4.7 secs

Top speed: 155mph

CO2 G/KM: 169

MPG combined: 38.7

Mercedes-AMG A35: in pictures

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Mercedes prepares eActros electric truck for service

Mercedes electric truck

Customers have been testing the Mercedes-Benz eActros electric truck for over a year, so it’s almost ready for active service. It’s due to go into production in 2021.

Just in time, given Bristol city plans to charge diesel trucks £100 per day for entry in 2021, with many other cities likely to follow suit.

eActros ‘innovation fleet’

Mercedes electric truck

Mercedes calls its range of electric trucks the ‘innovation fleet’. The mileage count built up by customer testers is now into five figures. The results and commentary from businesses and testers are being taken on board by the marque, as it prepares the truck for production. 

Ten companies across Germany put the trucks to use, including Hermes. They were used for a variety of haulage tasks. Mercedes says that “heavy-duty short-radius distribution is already possible with local zero emissions and quiet operation”.

Bristol, Mercedes-Benz is looking at you…

How far will the eActros go?

Mercedes electric truck

Mercedes has found that, regardless of payload or route, the eActros is good for a realistic electric range of around 120 miles. Not exactly up to Tesla’s claims for its semi, but a start nonetheless.

The potential for driving style to recover more miles is there, too, with the effective use of the recuperation system. The truck and all associated systems, such as climate control, reportedly performed flawlessly in all temperatures.

The batteries have a 240kWh capacity, which can be charged in two hours using a 150kW charger.

Mercedes electric truck

“We’re on absolutely the right track with the concept behind the Mercedes-Benz eActros,” said Andreas von Wallfeld, head of marketing, sales and services at Mercedes-Benz Trucks.

“For me, this is the key finding after more than a year of extremely intensive real-world trials with our battery-electric heavy-duty short-radius distribution truck.”

Jay Kay’s classic Mercedes estate heads to auction

Jay Kay Mercedes

Jay Kay has owned everything from a McLaren 675LT to a ‘Kermit Green’ LaFerrari. But the Mercedes-Benz estate heading under the hammer at this weekend’s NEC Classic Motor Show in Birmingham, England is a little more down-to-earth.

Not that it comes with a down-to-earth price tag. In fact, you could say that the pre-auction estimate for the 1983 Mercedes-Benz 280 TE wagon is cosmic, girl.

Silverstone Auctions has given the Thistle Green estate an estimate of between £20,000 to £25,000 ($26,000 to $32,000), which might seem steep for an ageing load-lugger, but there are many reasons why it stands every chance of reaching such heady heights.

The celebrity factor shouldn’t be underestimated. Although the Jamiroquai frontman only bought the car in 2009, his reputation as a collector of fine vehicles gives it real provenance. One suspects that Jay Kay doesn’t buy just any old motor.

But there’s more to this Mercedes-Benz than a link to a music icon. The estate version of the W123 series Mercedes is regarded as one of the finest vehicles of its kind – people pay good money for fine examples.

The original Mercedes ‘Stationswagen’

Jay Kay Mercedes estate

Known as the ‘T’ (for Tourism and Transport) – with an internal designation of ‘S’ for Stationwagen – this was the company’s first production estate car. Although it was technically similar to the saloon, the estate had a bespoke feel, thanks to upgrades including self-levelling hydropneumatic rear suspension and carpeting throughout.

These vehicles were pressed into hard service, often used on business during the week and for family and lifestyle reasons at the weekend. Which is why it’s remarkable that this 1983 car has covered a mere 30,000 miles from new. It would appear that Jay Kay has added just 1,500 miles during his time, which suggests he’d prefer to drive his Enzo or LaFerrari.

It’s also worth noting that the car’s MOT expired in August 2019, so the winning bidder won’t be driving it away from the NEC unless it’s tested before the auction.

Jay Kay Mercedes interior

The 280 TE, powered by the six-cylinder petrol engine, is the pinnacle of the W123 estate range, and Jay Kay’s motor features cruise control, air conditioning, ABS, alloy wheels and headlight wash-wipe.

It’s not cheap, but when you consider that the top estimate is roughly the same as an entry-level Mercedes-Benz A-Class or GLA, it begins to make more sense. Besides, neither of these cars offers a rear-facing child bench in the boot.

If Jay Kay’s Mercedes-Benz appeals to you, it will be going under the hammer at the NEC Classic Motor Show Sale on 9 November 2019.

Mercedes-Benz G 350d review: sensible nonsense

Mercedes G-Class G350 review 2019

The image of the Mercedes-Benz G-Class in recent years is that of a Sunset Boulevard cruiser kept in production by the Kardashian family, who seem to have at least one each. It’s also best-known today as the G63: an AMG V8-powered brute with garish wheels and trumpeting side exhausts.

The rise to Instagram and rap video stardom of the big G seems contrary to its original purpose. After all, Geländewagen, roughly translated, means ‘go-anywhere car’.

When we tested the aforementioned Mercedes-AMG G63 last year, we couldn’t help but hanker for the diesel version with small wheels. Well, now we’ve had one.

More refinement on the road

Mercedes G-Class G350 review 2019

For the past 40 years, the G-Class has been rivalled only by the Land Rover Defender for off-road capability. That was down to its three locking differentials and, until very recently, a solid axle at the front and rear. The G, like the Defender, has remained faithful to an old-school template – and has somewhat suffered for that as a road car.

Apart from being fitted with tyres made for supercars, the old one also handled like an old Land Rover. Indeed, grippy rubber only highlighted its limitations all the more. We’re pretty sure you could cock the inside front wheel in tight corners if you were brave enough.

The new G has gone independent at the front end, although the back retains a beam axle. The result is transformative to its road manners – and it actually has more wheel travel for when you venture off-piste.

Mercedes G-Class G350 review 2019

Also new is the 286hp 3.0-litre straight-six diesel engine, which is every bit as brilliant as we’d hoped. Coupled with Merc’s excellent nine-speed transmission, it’ll return 30mpg economy on a longer run – and shift all 2,600kg to 62mph in 7.4 seconds.

On the inside, it gets a contemporary cabin that feels like an S-Class in a greenhouse. Add it all up and you have a G-Class without compromise.

OK, maybe not entirely without compromise. The G is a bit of a brick, so wind noise can be intrusive at speed. But we’d be reluctant to sacrifice those chunky looks in the name of better refinement.

The art of articulation

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We then took to the Norfolk and Suffolk countryside in search of somewhere to test the G’s off-road skills. Although 20 inches is quite large for an alloy wheel, they still leave room for thick-walled all-terrain tyres.

Traversing the rutted forest trails, the G made short work of uneven surfaces: 40mph was smooth as silk. An old Defender would have been in bits in our dusty wake. After a bit of exploring, including a dead-end excursion into the woods, we found a suitable testing spot.

Some consumer testing today. Articulation: ☑️

— Ethan Jupp (@EthanIsSaying) October 3, 2019


A crater, which obviously saw regular use by local off-road enthusiasts, offered descents of varying levels of severity down into its claggy depths. The short overhangs and impressive articulation of the G-Class would be a real boon here.

We exited the bowl up a middle-tier ascent, with ruts part-way up, and clambered out with the suspension at full flex. It gave onlookers a nice view of the dual-reservoir shock absorbers at the rear.

Mercedes G-Class G350 review 2019

OK, so we weren’t exactly crossing the Darrien gap. But for all its bling, its ambient lighting and Burmester stereo that costs as much as a whole classic Land Rover, the Mercedes never felt out of its comfort zone. Its jutting wheelarches give a good perspective on the extremities of the car at the sides, helped by the all-round camera system. A lot of modern off-roaders feel like fish out of water in these scenarios. The G just doesn’t.

Allow us to paraphrase Jeremy Clarkson: if you have an expensive watch that can handle 2,000 feet of depth in the ocean, it makes you feel better when you drop it in the sink.

The G-Class is the watch you wouldn’t hesitate to take deep-sea diving. It’s an old-school mud-masher with a luxurious veneer, not the other way round. Then again, I had an inkling of that before even firing it up, with the industrial ‘chonk’ of the door slamming shut. It speaks of longstanding solidity.

Mercedes-Benz G 350d: verdict

For the first time, the G-Class is genuinely a car you can recommend to people over a Range Rover or an Audi Q7. It’s not a seven-seater, and it’s not as commodious, but it’ll hold its money better, looks cooler, and feels a lot more at home when the going gets rural. It’s also just as sturdy on-road the rest of the time, with a nicer cabin.

For a car with capabilities far behind what most people will need, it’s really quite sensible. It really has had what the Kardashians call a ‘glow up’ and feels, at 40 years old, in the prime of its life.

2019 Mercedes-Benz G350d AMG Line: specification

Engine: 3.0-litre straight-six diesel mild-hybrid

Transmission: Nine-speed automatic, four-wheel-drove

Power: 286hp

Weight: 2,451kg

0-62mph: 7.4 seconds

Top speed: 124mph

Fuel economy: 29.4mpg

CO2: 253g/km

Length/width/height: 4,606/1,984/1,969mm

Boot size: 667 litres

Price: £94,065

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Stunning 190 SL takes centre-stage at free Mercedes-Benz museum

Classic Mercedes SL on display at Mercedes-Benz World

Classic Mercedes SL on display at Mercedes-Benz World (image: Shawn Eastman)

An immaculate example of one of the most beautiful cars Mercedes has ever made, the 190 SL, is on display in the main reception area at Mercedes-Benz World – the brand’s free-to-visit showcase at Brooklands in Surrey.

It’s a 1957 model, and right-hand drive, in Anthracite Grey with a red interior. With an estimated value of £365,000, it arrives fresh from a 4,000-hour restoration.

Hemmels, the company that undertook the work on the car, is a classic Mercedes-Benz SL specialist. 

Classic Mercedes SL on display at Mercedes-Benz World

Both this 1957 190 SL and a similarly-restored 280 SL Pagoda will be on display into early 2020, following an exclusive preview evening on November 15 2019.

Hemmels will also display a selection of its cars at the upcoming NEC Classic Car Show, taking place on the weekend of November 8 2019.

A ‘brand new’ classic SL

Each Hemmels restoration involves a bare-metal respray and rebuild, over the course of 52 weeks. A 12-month parts-and-labour warranty is offered on all cars. 

SL stands for Super Leicht, or Sport Leicht. It remains one of the most iconic and long-standing names in motoring. These are the cars that fortified the legend, and they join SLs of all ages at Mercedes-Benz World.

Classic Mercedes SL on display at Mercedes-Benz World

“Mercedes-Benz World is an exceptional venue and reveals how the quality of the brand goes beyond automotive engineering to the ethos of the entire company and their overall commitment to excellence.” said Joseph Sullivan, CEO of Hemmels.

“We’re excited to once again have a Hemmels restoration selected for display at this stunning location.”

Life begins at 40: a brief history of the Mercedes G-Wagen

Celebrating 40 years of the G-Wagen

It’s the 40th anniversary of Mercedes’ rough and ready off-roader. From the Geländewagens of the late 70s to the AMG G-Class that dominates the plushest streets of London, this is one of the most broadly capable and broadly appealing vehicles of all time. To celebrate the 40 years of this unique model, Mercedes will open the ‘G-Schichten’ G stories exhibition.

The G stories exhibition

Celebrating 40 years of the G-Wagen

The exhibition will feature the broadest selection of G-Wagens from across the model’s history, showcasing the versatility and go-anywhere spirit. Included are the G 230 ‘Popemobile’ and a ministerial hunting vehicle.

From the Dakar to Knightsbridge

Celebrating 40 years of the G-Wagen

The diametrically opposed versatility is highlighted by the Dakar car and the G 65 Final Edition. One is a desert-demolition racer, the other a favourite of gangsters and oil barons. Wherever it goes, whatever it does, it’s never by half measures.

A broad career of achievements

Celebrating 40 years of the G-Wagen

From the Dakar, to the Pope, to a 600hp twin-turbo V12, to a soft-top. The G is a jack of all trades unlike any other. The only thing it won’t deliver is decent fuel mileage. Even the relatively conventional – if ever a G could be called conventional – G 350D we’ve got on test has a thirst.

G Schichen exhibition from October 18

Celebrating 40 years of the G-Wagen

All of the above, minus the current G 350 we’re looking after, can be seen at the G Schichten exhibition, due to open on 18 October at the Mercedes-Benz museum

The ‘Go-anywhere-car’

Mercedes-Benz G-Wagen History

Now, let’s go through the history of the G, from the original ‘Go-anywhere-car’, to today’s monster AMGs. In 1973, Daimler-Benz and Steyr-Daimler-Puch signed an agreement to develop a light off-road vehicle for private use. At the time, this was a shot in the dark, because there was little to suggest that the market was ready for such a thing. By the end of the decade, the first Geländewagen (Go-anywhere-car) had been presented to the public, kickstarting 40 years of boxy utilitarian history. Mercedes G-Class, this is your life in pictures.

Climb every mountain, ford every stream

Mercedes-Benz G-Wagen History

Back in the mid to late 70s, there was little to suggest that the G-Wagen project had legs. But Mercedes wasn’t prepared to lose focus on the design, insisting that it had to meet the demands of industrial, commercial and military use. Not an off-roader for off-road’s sake, but a go-anywhere 4×4 that was as at home on the road as it was on the rough stuff. These drawings from 1974 show the direction the teams were taking. This was a proper ‘Austrian army knife’ affair – a vehicle ready for any challenge.

Army Dreamers

Mercedes-Benz G-Wagen History

By 1975, the market forecasts were suggesting that such a vehicle could prove to be very popular, especially in civilian use. In the meantime, the G-Wagen was catching the eye of the armed forces. The Shah of Iran placed an order for 20,000 units, but the contract was cancelled before production got underway. Some of the slack was picked up by Germany’s regional police forces and customs officials, while the Argentinean, Norwegian and Swiss armies also placed considerable orders. However, the number of civilian-class G-Wagens sold far outnumbers the military-spec models. This is a long-wheelbase 280 GE station wagon, pictured in 1979.

Aachen Baby

Mercedes-Benz G-Wagen History

Over the course of five years, the engineers from Steyr-Daimler-Punch and Mercedes-Benz subjected the G-Wagen to the kind of challenges that would send today’s crossovers running back to mummy, begging for mercy. From the vast coalfields between Cologne and Aachen to the tracks of the Atlas mountains, no boulder was left unturned in the pursuit of supreme toughness. Corrosion tests were conducted on a salt lake in the Sahara, while hot and cold weather tests were carried out in North Africa and the Arctic Circle respectively. Meanwhile, work was getting underway on a new 40,000 square-metre plant in Austria.

You Know my Name

Mercedes-Benz G-Wagen History

Interestingly, in Austria, Switzerland and the Comecon countries, the G-Wagen wore a Puch badge, while in other countries it displayed the Mercedes three-pointed star. The G-Wagen name was dropped in 1998, the G-Class designation seeing the 4×4 falling into line with the rest of the Mercedes range. It is only since 2000 that the G-Class has been marketed under the Mercedes banner worldwide. The ‘Go-anywhere-car’ continued to evolve: an automatic transmission and air conditioning arrived in 1981, while an increasing number of optional extras hinted at the G-Wagen’s future direction.

Pope of Peace

Mercedes-Benz G-Wagen History

Mercedes-Benz has been building Popemobiles since 1930, when Pope Pius XI received a Nürburg 460 as a present. In 1980, it developed the first Popemobile with a transparent superstructure based on an off-roader. The 230 G from the 460 model series featured a plexiglass dome with automatic climate control.

The Boys of Summer

Mercedes-Benz G-Wagen History

Later, the Head of the Catholic Church requested an open car for use in fine weather. Mercedes-Benz duly obliged, equipping a 463 model series G 500 with a folding windscreen and hand-rails. Naturally, it was painted in Vatican mystic white. But the Pope wasn’t the only figure of authority to fall for the charms of the G-Wagen…

Sound of da Police

Mercedes-Benz G-Wagen History

It was, for example, the perfect vehicle for pursuing criminals across the coalfields between Aachen and Cologne or picking up the trail of a hot lead in the Sahara.

Doctor, Doctor

Mercedes-Benz G-Wagen History

Or, let’s say you slipped and broke your ankle when hiking between Italy and Switzerland. It’s good to know that help would arrive in the form of a Saint Bernard dog and a G-Wagen.

Truck Yeah

Mercedes-Benz G-Wagen History

Today, you might associate the modern G-Class with Premier League footballers and wealthy sheikhs, but it was designed with more utilitarian tasks in mind. A chassis with cab was available from 1987, while it’s worth noting that the G-Wagen only became the responsibility of the Mercedes-Benz passenger car division from the early 90s. Beforehand, it was part of the commercial vehicles division.

Fire and Desire

Mercedes-Benz G-Wagen History

The G-Wagen’s peerless off-road ability made it a hit with firefighters and forest rangers. Faced with a forest fire, few vehicles inspire as much confidence as the go-anywhere Merc. Incidentally, when What Car? tested a 280 GE in 1983, about a year after the G-Wagen arrived in the UK, it concluded that it was “an impressive all-rounder, on and off road,” and technically superior to the Range Rover. Only the price let it down.

Santa Baby

Mercedes-Benz G-Wagen History

If it’s good enough for Santa Claus… Wait, what?

Design for Life

Mercedes-Benz G-Wagen History

The designers initially chose to make the interior simple but functional. Note the painted metal surfaces, two-spoke steering wheel and the utterly conventional instrumental panel. But notice how – motoring journalism cliché alert – everything falls nicely to hand, while the passenger has quick access to a grab handle, fire extinguisher and first aid kit, should things go awry at the German coalfield.

The Kick Inside

Mercedes-Benz G-Wagen History

Now compare and contrast the cabin of old with the dashboard found in the very latest Mercedes-AMG G 63. Macchiato beige, baby. Yeah.

Parisienne Walkways

Mercedes-Benz G-Wagen History

But we’re not quite ready to explore the modern G-Class. Instead, cast your mind back to 1983, when Jackie Ickx and Claude Brasseur won the Paris-Algiers-Dakar Rally in a 280 GE. This followed two highly competitive entries in 1981 and 1982. Thanks to the use of aluminium components, the 280 GE weighed less than the production G-Wagen, while the engine output was increased to 220hp.

Going Underground

Mercedes-Benz G-Wagen History

The G-Wagen continued to evolve. A folding soft-top version was introduced in 1985, while a special version for underground work was launched in 1986. Also that year, the 50,000th G-Wagen rolled out of the factory in Graz, Austria. In 1987, Mercedes began drawing up plans for a more comfortably appointed model, culminating in the launch of the 463 model series in 1989. This picture shows a 463 Cabriolet in 1989.

Three Degrees

Mercedes-Benz G-Wagen History

Twenty years ago, we were beginning to see signs of the G-Wagen’s new market positioning, aping that of the Range Rover’s development plan. This photo from 1997 shows three body versions of the 463: Cabriolet, short-wheelbase Station Wagon and long-wheelbase Station Wagon. A more premium look and feel.

Film Star

Mercedes-Benz G-Wagen History

Thanks to its chiselled good looks and robust character, the G-Wagen has appeared in many movies. Mercedes-Benz supplied 14 different models for A Good Day to Die Hard including a G-Class.

Walk the Dinosaur

Mercedes-Benz G-Wagen History

In 1997, the M-Class made its first official appearance in The Lost World: Jurassic Park. Eighteen years later, Mercedes supplied an entire fleet of vehicles for Jurassic World, including a G 63 AMG 6×6, but more on this model in a moment.

To the Moon and Back

Mercedes-Benz G-Wagen History

This is a very special G-Wagen. In 2014, it completed a journey of just under 900,000 kilometres, having visited 215 countries in 26 years. Gunther and Christine Holtorf set off in 1988, visiting deserts, jungles and the frozen landscapes of the Arctic. It’s just as well Mercedes-Benz put the G-Wagen through a punishing development schedule.

Poles Apart

Mercedes-Benz G-Wagen History

In 2016, extreme adventurer Mike Horn set off from New York on the ‘Pole2Pole’ expedition. Mike Horn was the first person to navigate the entire length of the Amazon River solo and unsupported, to walk the North Pole during the dark season, and to circumnavigate the globe at the equator without motorised transport. Face it, with a CV like this, Mr Horn wasn’t going to rely on a weedy crossover for his Pole dancing expedition.


Mercedes-Benz G-Wagen History

Today, the G-Class is as much about performance and luxury as it is about expeditions and German coalfields. The range-topping G 500 was introduced in 1998. Its V8 engine developed 296hp and it set the tone for two decades of go-faster G-Class models. A year later, Mercedes launched a limited edition G 500 Classic to mark the vehicle’s 20th anniversary.


Mercedes-Benz G-Wagen History

The G 500 laid the foundations for the G55 AMG – the most powerful G-Class to date when launched. Unveiled in 1999, the first version developed 354hp, but this was increased to 476hp when the supercharged V8 arrived in 2004. Three years later, the G 55 AMG hit 500hp.

Different Class

Mercedes-Benz G-Wagen History

All of a sudden, the G-Class looked like an entirely different proposition to ‘Go-anywhere-car’ developed in the 1970s. The workmanlike everyman vehicles were still offered, but the launch of the G 63 AMG in 2012 felt like a line in the sand. Its AMG 5.5-litre V8 twin-turbo engine developed 544hp, giving it a 0-62mph time of 5.4 seconds and an electronically limited top speed of 130mph.

Power and Glory

Mercedes-Benz G-Wagen History

But why have a V8 G-Class when you can have a V12? The G 65 AMG was powered by an AMG 6.0-litre V12 twin-turbo engine developing 612hp and 1,000Nm of torque – a record in the off-road segment. It didn’t matter that neither of these cars had the chassis to match the outrageous power, we were just pleased that they existed.

Emergency on Planet Earth

Mercedes-Benz G-Wagen History

‘Is it possible that the Mercedes-Benz G-Class will still be around in 2025?’ asked Mercedes-Benz in 2012. Seven years on, the answer to that question is almost certainly yes, but it’s unlikely to look like this. The Ener-G-Force concept was a design study looking a future law enforcement vehicle, featuring a safe cocoon for its occupants, emergency lights integrated into the roof and gigantic wheels.

Grand Designs

Mercedes-Benz G-Wagen History

In 2005, as the 185,000th G-Class rolled off the line in Graz, Mercedes-Benz announced plans to keep the 4×4 in production for the foreseeable future. To keep it relevant for the modern age, the engineers looked at everything from pedestrian safety to emissions. Meanwhile, in 2006, Mercedes launched the Grand Edition. Finished in a metallic grey colour, the Grand Edition also featured a host of cosmetic upgrades, including illuminated door sills.

Guardian Angel

Mercedes-Benz G-Wagen History

Mercedes-Benz launched a range of special protection vehicles in 1999, with the G-Guard offered alongside the S-Guard and E-Guard. To avoid unwanted attention, these Guard vehicles look like regular production models, but the armoured features are integrated into the bodyshell during the vehicle assembly. Everything is considered in the name of protection, including strengthening the door looks and adding ‘transition areas’ between the metal and glass, designed to send a bullet ‘into a kind of labyrinth’.

Father and Son

Mercedes-Benz G-Wagen History

To mark the 30th anniversary of the G-Class, Mercedes launched the Edition30 and Edition30.PUR models. The long-wheelbase Edition30.PUR paid homage to the first-generation G-Wagen, with the 461 series G 280 CDI-based model optimised for off-road adventures. The Edition30 was based on the 463 series G 500 Station Wagon and offered more in the way of luxuries. We just like it for this touching ‘father and son’ picture.

Glitter and Gold

Mercedes-Benz G-Wagen History

But for all the talk of expeditions, intrepid explorers and go-anywhere spirit, by the turn of the current decade, there’s little doubt that the G-Glass was feeling as much at home on the red carpet as it was on the coalfields of Germany. In 2011, Mercedes-Benz sponsored the Goldene Kamera film awards in Germany, which was the perfect excuse to create a gold-wrapped G-Class. It’s a strong look.

Going Back to My Roots

Mercedes-Benz G-Wagen History

The decision to keep the G-Class in production was looking like a good one. Between 2001 and 2009, sales rose by more than 50 percent, which encouraged the firm to roll out a comprehensive facelift in 2012. The new car featured a range of cosmetic, interior, safety and tech upgrades. Not the G-Class had forgotten its roots. The Professional model targeted explorers, rescuers and those who preferred their G to have a little more authenticity.

River Deep, Mountain High

Mercedes-Benz G-Wagen History

We’re not sure where the G 63 AMG 6×6 would rank on the authenticity-o-meter, but it was certainly one of the most memorable cars of the past decade. Conceived and engineered for the Australian army, the extreme off-roader was produced in limited numbers and powered by an AMG V8 twin-turbocharged engine producing 544hp. The only thing as large as the 6×6 was the price. A cool £370,000 to you, sir.

Starship Trooper

Mercedes-Benz G-Wagen History

To coincide with the vehicle’s 35th anniversary, Mercedes-Benz launched the Edition 35 special edition. Available for the G 350 BlueTec and G 500 models, upgrades included black 18-inch alloys, black metallic cosmetic upgrades, silver or white paint finishes, a choice of leather interiors and what Mercedes called a ‘hallmark feel-good atmosphere on-board’. Also in 2014, the 230,000th G-Class left the factory in Graz. What a trooper.

G Squared

Mercedes-Benz G-Wagen History

What started life as a Geneva concept car became a reality in 2015 when Mercedes confirmed production of the G 500 4×4². Encouraged by the success of the G 63 AMG 6×6 – the firm had received more than 100 orders by the summer of 2015 – Mercedes pressed ahead with production of the three-tonne 4×4². It adopted the portal axles of the 6×6, which alone gave it about 90mm more ground clearance than the standard G-Class. With 22-inch rims, 325/55 tyres and adjustable shocks, the overall ground clearance increased to 450mm, with a fording depth of a metre.

Make Mine a 99

Mercedes-Benz G-Wagen History

From the sublime to the… what on earth is that? In February 2017, the motoring world stood slackjawed as the Mercedes-Maybach G 650 Landaulet broke cover. With a wheelbase stretched by 578mm and portal axles from the G 500 4×4², the segment-busting vehicle featured a rear compartment spanned by a folding soft-top and fitted with fully reclining seats. Power was sourced from a 612hp V12, with production limited to 99 units.

Super Graz

Mercedes-Benz G-Wagen History

It seemed like there was no stopping the go-anywhere G-Class. In July 2017, Mercedes announced that the 300,000th G-Class had left the factory in Austria. “The G-Class has been produced by Magna Steyr in Graz, Austria, on behalf of Mercedes-Benz since 1979. Today our off-road icon is more successful than ever. The production of 300,000 G-Class models is an impressive milestone. The team which has contributed substantially to this success includes employees who have been part of the story of the G-Class for 38 years. We have enjoyed decades of successful cooperation with Magna Steyr in the production of the G-Class,” explained Dr Gunnar Güthenke, head of the off-road product group at Mercedes-Benz.

Winds of Change

Mercedes-Benz G-Wagen History

But the writing was on the wall for the original G-Class. The winds of change were about to sweep through the Austrian factory, with a new model set to replace the original. At the 2018 premiere in Detroit, Mercedes unveiled a ‘Stronger Than Time’ installation, with a 280 GE cast in amber. It was as though the G-Wagen had been trapped in the middle, like an insect locked by amber millions of years ago.

A Land Down Under

Mercedes-Benz G-Wagen History

We’re not sure if the new G-Class visited any German coalfields, but this photo was taken during testing on the Schöckl mountain near Graz. The 5.6km test track includes gradients of up to 60 percent and inclinations of 40 percent, with the G-Class completing 2,000km on the course. The goal: to make the G-Class even better off-road.

All Things Must Pass (except door handles)

Mercedes-Benz G-Wagen History

For the latest model, the designers and engineers paid homage to the outgoing model but managed to create a G-Class that’s almost entirely new. But some things remain. The doors are designed to shut with the characteristic closing sound, while the door handles, washer jets and spare wheel cover are carried over from the original. The more you look at it, the more you notice how much has changed.

Bigger, Better, Faster, More!

Mercedes-Benz G-Wagen History

Barely a month after the launch of the ‘standard’ model, Mercedes-AMG unveiled a go-faster version. Power is sourced from a 4.0-litre V8 twin-turbo engine, with the ‘OMG’ G-Class treated to the likes of AMG’s ride control suspension, new driving modes and a nine-speed transmission. It all feels a long way from the 1979 original, but here’s to another 40 years of G-Wagen excellence.