The people at Mercedes-Benz are rejoicing. This is simply because for the first time since 1979, Mercedes-Benz has assembled 20,000 – and still counting – examples of the Mercedes-Benz G-Class. Sometimes dubbed as the G-Wagen, which is a shortened form of Gelandewagen (cross country vehicle), the Mercedes G Class has been the tough vehicle for the German premium carmaker in the past and is still today.
The 20,000th Mercedes-Benz G-Class rolled off the production line in Graz, Austria, where contractor Magna Steyr has been building the heavy duty yet premium SUV since its inception. This G-Wagen is AMG G63 powered by a 5.5-liter, twin-turbocharged V8 engine. It is wrapped in Designo Mystic White Bright exterior color and is specified with Designo leather upholstery.
Gunnar Guthenke, head of off-road products at Mercedes, quipped that the individualization as well as continuous technical optimization of the G Class were all factors in the success of the G-Wagen, which has become more luxurious while still having a good off-road capability. Guthenke added that production of 20,000 G Class units in just a year is a confirmation of the high demand for the SUV as well as of the high quality of Mercedes vehicles.
When Mercedes launched the G Class in 1979, the SUV was mainly intended for military use. That remains true today, as a number of national militaries have been employing the G Class as one of their vehicles, albeit in various configurations. Soon enough after 1979, the G Class became popular with civilian drivers and was even used as a racer for the Dakar Rally, which it dominated in 1983.
Well, if we compared the first G-Wagen (460) of 1979 and the 20,000th G Class, they share many features. Not much have changed in terms of overall styling in the past 37 years, although there have been a number of modifications and tweaks as technology advances through the years. Now, its interior has been made more luxurious and its core of engines has been made more powerful – with the fact that a twin-turbo V12 powerplant could be specified for today’s G Wagen. This engine can be found on the AMG G65 and can deliver 630 hp (463 kW) of output and up to 1,000 Nm of torque.
The current G-Wagen is part of the G Class 463 generation, which has been in existence since 1990, but has been updated several times in the past 26 years. However, a new generation of the G Class – the 464 -- is set to arrive in late 2017 as a 2018 model. Not much has been known or seen (except in camouflaged form) with the next generation G Class, aside from the fact that its curb weight is around up to 900 pounds (408 kilograms) lighter, and its body is around four inches (100 mm) wider.