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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.

G-funk

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.

Superstylin’

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.

The Mercedes smart watch will give you a massage

Mercedes Vivoactive 3 smart watch

Mercedes-Benz has unveiled a smart watch. Perhaps we shouldn’t be surprised, given that Mercedes is a pioneer of tech that monitors the driver. The smart watch is the latest development in that capability.

Called the Vivoactive 3, it’s a collaboration between Mercedes and Garmin. Connecting to the Mercedes Me app in your car, it allows the car to display information such as your pulse rate and can monitor your stress levels and tiredness.

The car can then suggest breaks, and even fire up the massage seats to calm you down.

Mercedes Vivoactive 3 smart watch

The smart watch also functions when you leave the car. Assuming it’s close by while you sleep, it can monitor your sleep quality, further supplementing information the car has on you.

Aside from watching you while you sleep and keeping an eye on your pulse, it’s also a watch. So yes, it tells the time, but it can also serve as a contactless payment device. Like other smart watches, it’s as much a companion to your phone as it is a companion to your car.

Mercedes Vivoactive 3 smart watch

It wouldn’t be a Mercedes project if there wasn’t an element of style. Mercedes calls the Vivoactive 3 ”stylish yet minimalistic and dynamic”. No arguments here. Its construction is a combination of black or white plastic, stainless steel, a gorilla glass display and a silicon strap. The user interface is very Mercedes but can be “set to reflect the wearer’s personal style”.

The practical stuff? The battery will last seven days with ordinary to minimal use, though if you have the GPS on, that lowers to 13 hours.

Mercedes-Benz has been keeping drivers awake for a decade

Mercedes Attention Assist

Today is International Coffee Day. Which means tomorrow should be International No Sleep Day, given the number of free coffees being given away by the likes of Costa and Subway.

It also marks the 10th anniversary of Attention Assist. Introduced by Mercedes-Benz in 2009, the system recognises the typical signs of drowsiness and gives an audible warning, along with a coffee cup displayed in the instrument cluster.

It measures 70 parameters and evaluates them to detect drowsiness. If Attention Assist spots irregular steering behaviour or the driver struggling to stay in lane, up pops the coffee cup.

Wake up and smell the coffee

When we’re tired, we make small steering errors, which are followed by a sudden and erratic correction. This tends to occur in the early phase of drowsiness, usually before micro-sleep sets in. In Germany, over-tiredness is to blame for 0.7 percent of accidents with personal injuries, and around 1.2 percent of those with fatalities.

To date, more than 14 million Mercedes vehicles have left the factory with Attention Assist.

Crucially, a German study found that no accident by a Mercedes-Benz with over-tiredness as the cause has been recorded in Germany since the system was introduced as standard. A small cup of coffee can go a long way.

Attention Assist debuted on the E-Class and S-Class in 2009, but it is now standard equipment across the entire range of passenger cars. From 2022, all new cars in the European Union must have such a system.

Coffee Homeground

Mercedes-Benz Attention Assist

Klaus Frenzel, head of UX design at Mercedes-Benz, said: “Take a break could not be more simply and internationally understandably illustrated than with a coffee cup. The friendly nature of this prompt is another positive aspect. After all, our vision is to provide a comprehensive experience in the car. We want drivers to feel completely at home. It is also important that the complex digital world is made as easy as possible to understand.”

Dr Michael Hafner, head of driving technologies and automated driving, added: “Preventing stress-related accidents and improving driver fitness safety is one of the major thrusts in our safety development. Assistance systems like Attention Assist, which support the driver, make their contribution to this.”

Coffee is only a short-term fix for drowsy driving. Stopping and sleeping for up to 45 minutes is the best cure, according to the National Sleep Foundation.

Modified Mercedes is a tough truck with SUV attitude

Kahn Mercedes X-Class

G-Wagen a bit too obvious for you? Don’t worry, there’s another beefed-up Mercedes-Benz available, and it’s a third of the price. Meet the X-Class pick-up by Kahn Design.

You’ll know something’s up from afar with the Kahn X-Class. Wide wheelarches, big alloys and an AMG GT-style ‘Panamericana’ grille make for a truck with added attitude.

Kahn Mercedes X-Class

The front bumper is more aggressive, with a spoiler, bumper vents and a lower aero crash bar.

Step inside and the usually utilitarian X-Class has been given a luxury upgrade. Quilted leather in contrasting red and black covers the seats, giving a distinctly ‘AMG’ look.

Kahn Mercedes X-Class

In the past, Kahn has been credited with making Jeeps and Land Rover Defenders a bit less capable off-road with the addition of oversized wheels, as well as making Range Rovers quite a bit less tasteful… 

This X-Class, though, feels about right. The kicker is that it’s available for around £50,000. The car pictured is listed at £48,999.

Kahn Mercedes X-Class

If you tick enough boxes when ordering your G63 AMG, the price can swell to four times that much.

It’s a strange world where the Kahn Design-fettled Mercedes pick-up is the sensible option.

Mercedes-Benz Vision EQS Concept previews electric S-Class

Mercedes Vision EQS

Mercedes-Benz has revealed the Vision EQS Concept at the 2019 Frankfurt Motor Show, offering hints of what a future S-Class EV might look like.

It could preview the marque’s next flagship, which may use the same ‘EQ’ nomenclature.

Mercedes says ‘the study provides an outlook on a new dimension in sustainable luxury’.

Vision EQS: packaging the future

Mercedes Vision EQS

The packaging advantages of electric powertrains mean stylists aren’t slaves to the styling tropes of fossil-fuelled cars. There’s no need for a long, tall bonnet, or a cramped cabin filled with transmission tunnel. Bigger wheels can fill the haunches, too, giving a saloon the stance of a supercar.

The EQS seems to combine the very best of current luxury saloons with these new freedoms. Its bonnet is shorter, while the cabin canopy stretches across more of the car’s length.

Mercedes calls this the ‘One Bow’ proportion. and it makes the EQS look very sleek and slippery. The two-tone paint, with a darker upper element, blends well with the glasshouse, too. 

Inside the Vision EQS 

Mercedes Vision EQS

The cabin of the Vision EQS is inspired by luxury yachts. Indeed, the dash appears to have borrowed its design from the deck of a Riva speedboat. The plush cream material is actually made from recycled ocean plastics, and is entirely sustainable.

If the dash is the deck of a speedboat, the upward-swooping floating infotainment screen is the diving board. It’s a very slick look, and brings us to the tech elements of the cabin. The Vision EQS features the latest development of the Advanced MBUX media system.

Mercedes Vision EQS

Gone is the horizontal slab with dual screens and inch-wide bezels of the S-Class. This central screen really is all screen, while driving data is integrated into the dashboard in front of the steering wheel.

Speaking of that wheel, it’s probably the part least likely to make its way onto the next S-Class. 

Mercedes Vision EQS – the numbers

Mercedes Vision EQS

Given it’s a concept, the figures supplied should be taken with a pinch of salt. Still, the Vision EQS is apparently capable of a WLTP-certified 435 miles on a full charge. And it can be recharged to 80 percent capacity in ‘considerably less than 20 minutes’, if charging at 350kW. 

Approximate power is 450hp, while torque is around 550lb ft. Zero to 62mph should take less than 4.5 seconds, while top speed is over 120mph.

Counting down to 2039

Mercedes Vision EQS

Mercedes wants to have a CO2-neutral new car fleet in 20 years. Even now, the ‘Mercedes Me’ charge facility will direct you to charge points that use sustainable energy.

Overall, the Vision EQS is intended to show that eco-conscious cars can still be entirely in keeping with the luxurious reputation of the three-pointed star.

For now, we’ll be glad if the next S-Class borrows some of that Vision EQS style.

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Ex-Stirling Moss Mercedes-Benz 500 SL could be yours

Stirling Moss Mercedes 500SL

You could own a Mercedes-Benz 500 SL once driven by one of Britain’s most celebrated motor racing talents: Sir Stirling Moss. It’ll hit the block at H&H Classics’ auction on June 19 at Duxford.

Famous for his incredible 1955 Mille Miglia drive in a Mercedes 300 SLR, Moss clearly preferred something more cosseting in later life. This now-classic 500 SL was ordered new by ‘Mr Motor Racing’ to his exact specification.

Stirling Moss Mercedes 500SL

Registered ‘7SM’, a Mercedes SL driven by Sir Stirling Moss could only be coloured silver. The contrasting dark blue soft-top and interior has aged well, although the glossy wood cabin trim does date it somewhat. The car comes with a hard-top, too. It currently has 62,000 miles on the clock.

Sir Stirling’s time with the SL is well-documented, which is more than can be said for many ‘day-to-day’ cars that claim legendary provenance.

Stirling Moss Mercedes 500SL

Among pictures of the car with Sir Stirling in the book Great Drives in the Lakes and Dales is a personal story from H&H Classics’ own Damian Jones.

He remembers being in a car in London with his father, and being cut up by Sir Stirling in the very same 500 SL. Contrary to the grump you might expect, his Dad allegedly remarked: “One can’t object to being cut up by Stirling Moss!”

Stirling Moss Mercedes 500SL

The 500 SL, with an all-new 330hp quad-cam 5.0-litre V8, was the flagship of the SL range at the time. AMG-fettled examples with monstrous V8s and V12s were still a few years away.

To top it off, this storied classic is up for auction with no reserve

Mercedes GLS and BMW X7: Germany’s 2019 super SUVs

BMW X7 Mercedes GLS

As of this year’s New York Auto Show, Mercedes’ long-serving GLS (formerly GL) has finally been replaced. The new car is a proper, pucker truck of an SUV to head up Merc’s high-rider lineup. This pretender to Range Rover supremacy borrows luxury from the S-Class and is looking to square up to BMW’s all-new X7 flagship SUV. Let’s explore these German supertankers side by side.

‘The S-Class of SUVs’

BMW X7 Mercedes GLS

Mercedes is calling the new GLS ‘The S-Class of SUVs’. A bold statement, but then again, size, height and road presence are luxuries the Range Rover had a monopoly on for many years. The X7 has joined the fray, sharing a nomenclature with BMW’s large luxury saloon; and now, the GLS is back and more plush than ever.

BMW X7 styling

BMW X7 Mercedes GLS

The X7, along with a few other new BMWs, has taken a bit of heat for its styling. While its enormity and boxy proportions are challenging for some, it’s those monstrous buck teeth that have got everyone talking. The swollen kidneys are difficult to get past, but once you do, the bulbous and boxy X7 wears all the hallmarks of contemporary BMW styling rather well. It’s imposing, if not traditionally appealing. Those slim lights add road presence and a whiff of aggression, while the brightwork and big wheels (not to mention the size of it) let you know this is the leader for Bavaria’s high-rise range.

Mercedes GLS styling

BMW X7 Mercedes GLS

The GLS is easier on the eye, mostly because there’s no stand-out feature to offend. With its ‘Sensual Purity’ design language, it’s a bit more curvaceous and aerodynamic-looking than the decidedly boxy X7. Muscular wheel arches and ‘power bulges’ on the bonnet give every GLS more than a whiff of go-faster pretence. Distinctive Mercedes lighting is diminutive by comparison to the GLS’s size but is attractive all the same. Like the X7, the GLS is flush with chrome work and big wheels, and at the back, recessed exhaust outlets keep the look clean.

BMW X7 interior

BMW X7 Mercedes GLS

It’s here the big Merc eeks out a lead over the Beemer, we’d hazard to say. To appearances, it’s a far more high-end and luxurious place to be. The X7 just feels a touch grey and derivative, save for the optional diamond-stitched seats. Yes, it’s generously equipped and well-put-together but it’s lacking in style, where the Mercedes has it in spades. It does match the GLS in terms of luxurious seating, though. Both are available with individual ‘captain’s chairs’ in the middle row.

Mercedes GLS interior

BMW X7 Mercedes GLS

The GLS, has a stunning cabin as standard and will no doubt be loaded with tech, making it a legitimate alternative to the S-Class if you can’t wait for the next-generation model. The 12.3-inch high-resolution screens house the very latest MBUX operating system and integrate nicely into the cabin’s facia. MBUX also creeps into the rear entertainment systems, too. While it’s already a lovely place, the rumoured Maybach variant can only take the levels of luxury into the stratosphere.

BMW X7 space and practicality

BMW X7 Mercedes GLS

The X7 holds firm against the GLS in terms of practicality. It too has fully electrically controllable seats across all three rows. It too offers either a seven-seat with a middle bench or a ‘captain’s chairs’ option. It too can boast a hefty boot size, though not up there with the big Benz. A maximum of 2,120 litres falters in the face of the Merc’s 2,400. It also has a slightly shorter wheelbase than the Merc, with 3,105 losing out by 30mm to the GLS’s 3,135mm. Odd to consider the X7 ‘compact’ in this comparison.

Mercedes GLS space and practicality

BMW X7 Mercedes GLS

A stunningly appointed cabin is also a lot more spacious than the previous GLS. This, thanks to a 60mm longer wheelbase and 22mm of extra width. That means there’s a lot more space for passengers, both in the middle and in the third row. Legroom is increased in the second row by 87mm. All the seats are electrically movable, too, while the boot has a maximum of 2,400 litres of space with the seats folded flat. Truthfully, you won’t suffer for space in either of these cars.

BMW X7 engines

BMW X7 Mercedes GLS

The BMW has a very strong lineup of engines. In the UK, they’re all six-pots, with two diesels and a single petrol. The 265hp 3.0-litre diesel opens up the range, while a 340hp petrol sits in the middle. The kicker though, that’s going to give Mercedes a hard time, is the M50d diesel. This quad-turbo diesel monster produces 400hp while also delivering over 40mpg. No, the BMW’s engine range doesn’t feature clever hybrid tech, but that diesel is a class act. No word yet on if we’ll be getting a proper X7 M, though. We use ‘proper’ very lightly…

Mercedes GLS engines

BMW X7 Mercedes

Big busses need muscular powerplants and the Mercedes has no intention of sending the GLS into battle short-handed. That’s why every petrol engine available in the GLS will come with Mercedes’s clever integrated starter and EQ tech. That means both the 489hp V8 and the 367hp straight-six come with a 48-volt system that shortens the engine’s overhangs and boosts power by up to 22hp for short periods. The six-pot is, unfortunately, not coming to the EU. Conventional diesels ought to appeal more to us Brits. Both 286hp and 330hp versions of the OM 656 six-cylinder will be available. We fully expect more extensively hybridised variants to join in time, as well as a snorting GLS 63 AMG performance version.

BMW X7 technology

BMW X7 Mercedes

BMW are never ones to shy away from loading a car with technology. The X7, being its biggest and most luxurious offering, in tandem with the 7 Series, gets the latest and best. Heavy-hitting partial autonomous drive, BMW’s very latest interior operating system, otherwise known as BMW Intelligent Personal Assistant, comes as standard. Pretty much all the toys you could get your hands on in the Mercedes are optionable in the BMW.

Mercedes GLS technology

BMW X7 Mercedes

A pre-requisite for any pretender to S-Class status is a heavy-duty arsenal of technology. Luckily, this pretender comes from within Mercedes itself. The GLS comes loaded with amazing tech, including fully electric seating – yes, for all seven seats – and a ‘car wash mode’. That makes getting this considerably sizeable machine clean easier for driver and car wash attendants alike. Naturally, GLS also comes loaded with autonomous tech. The adaptive cruise control can read road signs and adapt to traffic conditions based on data from the sat-nav. The mild hybrid tech deployed on the petrol engines is revolutionary, too. Clever stuff!

Price

BMW X7 Mercedes

This will be a strong point of contention between these cars. Nevertheless, you can almost guarantee that they both undercut the Range Rover by a decent amount. You can have an X7 from £72,000 for the entry-level diesel, going up to £74,000 for the mid-range petrol. The big-banger M50d will set you back £87,000. Expect the Mercedes to follow these prices closely and perhaps be a touch more expensive.

2019 Mercedes-Benz GLS: finally, the S-Class of SUVs

01 Mercedes-Benz GLS NYIAS

The all-new Mercedes-Benz GLS is built from the ground up to take genuine S-Class luxury into the SUV sector. It has debuted at the 2019 New York Auto Show

The most luxurious Mercedes-Benz SUV ever

02 Mercedes-Benz GLS NYIAS

The clue is in the name: the new Mercedes-Benz GLS, revealed at the 2019 New York Auto Show, aims to take S-Class luxury and refinement into the large SUV segment. It’s a market currently defined by the Range Rover, and challenged by the new BMW X7.

Range Rover rival

03 Mercedes-Benz GLS NYIAS

One thing is for certain: the GLS is a damn sight prettier than the brutish BMW. Whether it is as luxurious as the Range Rover remains to be seen. But Mercedes-Benz has been nothing if not exhaustive in its efforts to justify that ‘S-Class of SUVs’ tag.

Bigger than ever

04 Mercedes-Benz GLS NYIAS

It replaces a car derived from a model belonging to the class below – and that showed. This one also shares parts with other Mercedes, but it’s far less obvious. The fact it’s even larger than before – 77mm (3 inches) longer, 22mm (0.9 inches) wider and with a 60mm (2.4 inch) longer wheelbase – aims to underline its status as the firm’s topmost SUV. The old one was hardly small. This one is now 17 feet long and 6 feet 4 inches wide…

Impersonating a van

05 Mercedes-Benz GLS NYIAS

There is more space for those in the middle row of seats, comfier accommodation in the third row and, if you fold all the seats down (at the press of a single button), a 2,400-litre luggage compartment. That’s on par with vans, and way in excess of any estate car. Mercedes-Benz is even offering a six-seat version alongside the regular seven-seater, with middle-row chairs almost as decadent as those in the front.

A tall story

06 Mercedes-Benz GLS NYIAS

Every seat is electric, seat-heaters extend to the third row and the sixth and seventh seats are ‘fully fledged’ chairs good for people over 6 feet 3 inches tall. Third-row passengers also get USB charging ports and Mercedes-Benz is offering five-zone climate control. So there need never be any argument that it’s too hot or cold, no matter how many people are on board.  

An aero SUV

07 Mercedes-Benz GLS NYIAS

The design follows the Mercedes-Benz ‘Sensual Purity’ idiom: sculpted surfaces replace individual edges and beading. The aerodynamic drag factor bears this out: a Cd of 0.32 is superb for this segment, despite the upright radiator grille and chrome-plated front underguard. Being so slippery also helps reduce wind noise at speed.

112 LEDs per headlight

08 Mercedes-Benz GLS NYIAS

The GLS’ lights are its jewellery. Multibeam LED headlights are standard; each side packs a staggering 112 LEDs and is as bright as legally permissible. Only beyond 0.4 miles’ distance does the brightness dip below the 1 lux reference value. By day, three LED running light segments mimic the S-Class sedan.

3D LED

09 Mercedes-Benz GLS NYIAS

Mercedes-Benz is pleased with the muscular shoulder line on the GLS, which extends from the rear doors into the tail lights. These are two-piece LED units with a 3D look. The mandatory reflectors are located lower down, so the tail lamps can be flatter and more sculptural. Like an expensive piece of jewellery, they are surrounded by a thin chrome strip.

S-Class on steroids

10 Mercedes-Benz GLS NYIAS

Inside, it’s amazing. Leather-lined and tech-packed, the GLS is like an S-Class on steroids, with a similarly breathtaking appearance (and, at night, ambient light show). Up front, it’s all built around the MBUX infotainment system, with twin 12.3-inch high-res screens, but the detailing is just as noteworthy – from the raised centre console to the chunky SUV-style grab handles.

High-tech rear

11 Mercedes-Benz NYIAS

It’s high-tech in the rear, too. Order the Rear Comfort Plus Package and a 7-inch Android tablet linked to MBUX is included, with its own docking station in the middle-row armrest. Use it to control radio, TV, media, telephone and a web browser, and also the rear seats themselves and every zone of the climate control system. You’ll also find second-row wireless smartphone charging and a plethora of USB ports.

Club-class entertainment

12 Mercedes-Benz GLS NYIAS

Want to spoil those in the back? They already have ‘luxury’ head restraints with additional cushions, but they can also have lumbar massage, climate-controlled seats and a further-upgraded MBUX Rear Seat Entertainment System. This has dual 11.6-inch touchscreens that link to the smartphones of each person in the back.

Yes, there are diesel engines

13 Mercedes-Benz GLS NYIAS

Diesel engines comprise the six-cylinder 286 horsepower GLS 350d 4Matic and the 330 horsepower GLS 400d 4Matic. Markets outside of the EU will get a GLS 450 4Matic, with a 367 horsepower six-cylinder gasoline engine boosted by 48V mild hybrid tech.

Gasoline great

14 Mercedes-Benz NYIAS

The most interesting model is the GLS 580 4Matic. This arrives shortly after market launch. Another gasoline motor, it produces 489 horsepower from a beefy V8, again boosted by a 48V system. All GLS have a nine-speed 9G-Tronic automatic, and off-road fans can option a transfer case for a low-range gearset.

Intelligent suspension

15 Mercedes-Benz GLS NYIAS

Airmatic air suspension is standard. E-Active Body Control, a 48-volt active anti-roll system is optional to help keep passengers settled and comfortable. It’s the world’s only tech that individually controls springs and dampers at each corner. ‘The world’s most intelligent SUV suspension’ scans the road for bumps and even ‘leans into corners’, like a motorcycle, to counteract roll. It has a similarly extensive repertoire of tricks off-road, too.

Engage Carwash mode

16 Mercedes-Benz GLS NYIAS

Oh, and check this: there is an official ‘Carwash function’. Select this and the suspension jacks up to the highest position, which means the carwash can blast out any dirt underneath the wheelarches from off-roading. It also folds in the door mirrors, deactivates the rain sensor, switches the climate control to air recirculation and turns on the 360-degree front camera to help the driver guide the GLS in and out. It’s all automatically deactivated when your speed rises above 12 mph.

From GLA to GLS

17 Mercedes-Benz GLS NYIAS

The Mercedes-Benz SUV range now comprises, wait for it: GLA, GLC, GLC Coupe, GLE, GLE Coupe, GLS and G-Class. More than five million have been sold since the first Merc SUV, the M-Class, was introduced in 1997.

‘S-Class of SUVs’

18 Mercedes-Benz NYIAS

“The new GLS is the S-Class of premium SUVs,” stated Daimler AG board member and Mercedes-Benz development boss Ola Kallenius. “It embodies luxury, confidence and intelligence like almost no other vehicle.”

Tough and elegant

19 Mercedes-Benz NYIAS

Board member for design, Gorden Wagener, reckons it combines the toughness of an SUV with the elegance of a luxury saloon. “The interior is a synthesis of modern, luxurious aesthetics, hallmark SUV practicality, and digital high-tech. In our view, the new GLS, therefore, offers the best of all these worlds.”

New Mercedes-Benz GLS: on sale July

20 Mercedes-Benz NYIAS

The new Mercedes-Benz GLS, which is built in Tuscaloosa, Alabama, goes on sale in the USA from July 2019, then from Q3 2019 in Europe. Prices will be announced nearer to its market launch.

Mercedes-Benz GLB concept previews ‘robust’ small SUV

Mercedes-Benz

Mercedes has revealed a GLB concept at Auto Shanghai, previewing a small crossover that complements the existing GLA with added ‘spaciousness and robustness’.

Like the larger G-Class and GLS, this is a sturdier, more upright SUV with a traditional boxy silhouette.

Small yet practical

Mercedes-Benz

Mercedes is going for broke in terms of practicality, too. In spite of being based on the same platform as the diminutive A-Class hatchback, the GLB is purportedly a full seven-seater.

Think ‘Nissan Qashqai+2 in a posh German suit’, mainly thanks to a long wheelbase of 2,829 millimetres. The Easy-Entry system also makes getting in the back nice and, er, easy.

Properly rugged

Mercedes-Benz GLB

Even this, a glitzy motorshow concept, isn’t lumbered with big, concept-car wheels. Big knobbly off-road tyres on 17-inch wheels fill the bulbous arches of the GLB nicely and are indicative of Mercedes’ commitment to this car being capable.

Alloy skid plates and spotlights on top further emphasise the off-road attitude. Short overhangs make for minimal scrapes when traversing ups and downs.

It’s still a Mercedes

Mercedes-Benz

All this, and yet when you take a look inside, you’re greeted with the cabin of a modern Mercedes. That’s to say, a welcoming, well-equipped, exquisitely styled and high quality interior.

There’s still rugged style here, but it’s not gratuitous. Mercedes’ excellent new MBUX operating system also features.

Under the skin of the GLB

Mercedes-Benz GLB

Beneath the bonnet, there’s a 224hp turbocharged four-cylinder engine. It features honing and shaping technologies to increase power while reducing friction and fuel consumption.

The 4Matic four-wheel-drive system also had to feature on such an off-road-oriented car, didn’t it? Day-to-day, there’s an 80-20 front-rear power split. Put it in Sport and that changes to 70-30. In Off-Road mode, you get 50-50 front and rear.

Will Mercedes make the GLB?

Of course it will. SUVs are the car industry’s bread-and-butter at the moment, especially smaller more accessible models. Given the amount of work that’s gone into this concept, and how production-ready it looks, not to make it would seem an awful waste. Merc higher-ups would appear to agree.

“The Concept GLB is a durable and practical SUV with compact dimensions,” said Britta Seeger, responsible for Mercedes-Benz car sales.

“Whether it is a generous, seven-seater family vehicle or a versatile leisure time companion, we are certain that this concept will be of great interest to our customers.”

Mercedes-Benz GLB

We’re on board with this one, you might be surprised to read. Soft-edged crossovers aren’t our thing, but we’d never say no to a boxy off-roader with chunky tyres and a slabbed nose.

Will the GLB replace the Defender before the Land Rover does? Maybe not quite, but the off-road emphasis is refreshing. Mercedes sold 820,000 SUVs last year. Can the GLB help make that a million in 2020? We wouldn’t bet against it.

Maybach G650: you could own one of the craziest luxury cars ever

Maybach G650 Landaulet

There are luxury cars and there are luxury cars. At one extreme there’s a Mercedes-Benz S-Class with a diesel V6. At the other, there’s this. The G650 Maybach Landaulet – and we’ll take no arguments on this – is one of the most ridiculous luxury cars ever made.

Produced as a run-out special before the new G-Class arrived, the G650 Maybach is the ultimate manifestation of the mafia drug lord’s SUV of choice. It’s the car to be seen in if you want to be taken seriously as an international proprietor of Class A opiates.

It’s also the ultimate dictator’s hack. Because even if your palace is lined with gold, are you really a dictatorial warlord if you don’t have a G650 in the garage?

We joke of course, but just look at the thing. We’d like to see a more appropriate prop for the garage of a Bond villain.

What is the G650 Landaulet?

Maybach G650 Landaulet

One of just 99 made, the G650 Landaulet takes luxury and off-road pretence to equal extremes. The 22-inch wheels, enormous arches and jacked-up ride are borrowed from the ‘squared’ G-Class models, while the extended wheelbase and soft-top lend themselves to the luxurious Maybach side of the G650.

Inside, it’s business as usual, until you get in the back. There, you’ll find reclinable leather chairs, champagne flutes, comfort pillows and stunning in-car audio and entertainment systems. Oh yes, and a fabric roof that rolls back and drops down just behind you.

Under the bonnet, there’s Mercedes’ twin-turbocharged 6.0-litre V12, good for 630hp. Because what else has enough torque to get those incredible wheels spinning?

Can I buy this one?

Maybach G650 Landaulet

Yes Sir, you can. It’s available for the tidy sum of £799,000 from Nuremberg-based dealer Autovermietung Zitzmann. What do you get for that? Well, it’s only done 100 miles, so that’s a bonus. There are no bullet holes that we can detect and, as far as we’re aware, it hasn’t been seized by the Federal Government. Not things that would typically pop up on an online car check, but still…

No, a Maybach G-Class is never going to be subtle, but we’d go as far as to say that in context, this is quite a nicely specced car: no chrome wrap or 30-inch aftermarket wheels.

It’s very much more Saudi Sheikh than Kanye West, and we can appreciate that. So, if you fancy showing the Kardashians their G-Wagen game is weak, step right this way.