Demand from Russia, China gives new life to Mercedes G class
High demand from wealthy buyers in Russia and China has given the Mercedes-Benz G class a healthy future.
Mercedes parent Daimler has in the past considered axing the SUV, which was launched in 1979 and sold just 6,600 units last year. But the rugged SUV with its boxy styling will grace Mercedes showrooms for some time to come after a face-lifted version went on sale last month.
The G class offers the brand's most expensive vehicle, the G 65 AMG version which costs 264,180 euros, more than the 230,384 euro price of the the S 65 AMG, the most expensive version of the brand's S class flagship sedan.
The G 65 AMG is also Mercedes' most powerful vehicle and the most powerful series-produced cross-country vehicle in the world. It has a 612-hp V12 turbocharged engine.
The face-lifted G class has only minor exterior tweaks such as LED daytime running lamps and new exterior mirror, but the interior has extensive modifications to make it more modern and more luxurious. The new modern dashboard has a large screen that resembles an Apple iPad.
Axel Harries, head of Mercedes SUV product line, said G-class sales have risen 50 percent over the past three years thanks to demand from Russia and China. Mercedes declined to provide G-class sales numbers for the two markets.
Target buyers: Customers who want a workhouse -- the 350 BlueTEC diesel version is outstanding for pulling heavy trailers up to 3500 kg even in tough off-road conditions -- or super-rich buyers who want to show off when cruising along the boulevards of the big cities.
New technology: The G has three mechanical operating differential locks for outstanding offroad capabilities. It's not new but it is ahead of the opposition.
What's good: The high quality interior has the latest infotainment solutions.
What's bad: The high price. Also the central locking system still makes a loud noise when operated.
Launch date: June
Base price: 85,311 euros (Germany)
Platform: Rigid ladder frame
Where built: Magna Steyr, Graz, Austria
Annual sales forecast: 7,500
CO2 emissions: 295 g/km (G 350 BlueTec) to 397 g/km (G 65 AMG)