Mercedes' next G class will be wider, greener

The reworked Mercedes G class will retain the tough military-style looks of the existing model, shown.
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Mercedes-Benz will make some extensive changes to its rugged G-class SUV. So major is the overhaul, planned for 2017, that Mercedes insiders say it will, in effect, be an all-new vehicle.

The big push is to increase the width of the G class by up to 101mm (4 inches), taking the width of the car to about 1859mm overall, which will offer greater stability.

Sources also say it will help to accommodate a new front suspension and create greater interior space for new, broader seats both front and rear, while maintaining the tough visual character and iconic, military-style looks of the existing 35-year-old model.

Further changes are being aimed at the electric architecture of the G class, which will be updated to provide a platform for a range of new driver-assistance, safety, infotainment and connectivity systems.

The body structure of the SUV is being extensively reworked with more aluminum and high-strength steel being added with a view to slashing the curb weight: A reduction of more than 199kg (440 pounds) is being suggested by insiders. The current G350 weighs in at a hefty 2570kg.

Exterior styling

The exterior design will retain the right-angled looks of today's car with a near-vertical windscreen. Some inspiration could also be taken from the futuristic Ener-G-Force concept car from the 2012 Los Angeles auto show.

The interior overhaul will focus not only on increasing space but also comfort and quality, with interior fittings from the latest C-class model set to make it into the off-roader.

Technology levels will also be increased, with features such as stereo camera technology enabling the inclusion of many of the driver-assistance and safety systems seen on the latest flagship S class.

Mercedes' Ener-G-Force concept car, shown at the 2012 Los Angeles auto show, could also influence exterior styling details on the new G class.

The engine range will include the new 3.0-liter, inline six-cylinder gasoline (code-named M256) and diesel (OM656) units currently under development ahead of their debut in the new E class, due out in 2016.

For the G class, a gasoline unit with more than 360 hp and a diesel producing over 300 hp are being suggested.

The engines will be paired with Mercedes' new nine-speed 9G-Tronic automatic gearbox as standard as part of efforts to provide the SUV with improved fuel economy and lower emissions.

Range-topping AMG variants, which account for more than half of all G-class sales, are set to follow the launch of the standard models.

You can reach Greg Kable at autonews@crain.com.

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