AMG Played a Huge Role Developing the New G-Wagen

Mercedes wanted to improve the G-Wagen's performance on- and off-road, and for that, it turned to AMG.

Brian Williams

The new Mercedes G-Wagen might look a lot like the old one, but it should be leagues better to drive. At least Mercedes-AMG head honcho Tobias Moers thinks so, and he should know, since he helped develop it. We caught up with Moers at the Detroit Auto Show, just a day after the new G made its debut.

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"We did almost everything regarding the G-Wagen to make a proper base for our car," Moers told us. "Suspension, adaptive dampers, the front axle, the rear axle was done by us, drivetrain, the shaft, knuckles. Everything."

Mercedes-Benz

The G-Wagen retains a live rear axle, but it's a new design that utilizes a Panhard bar. The real revolution is at the front, where there's a trick double wishbone setup—a first for the G-Wagen. Going for independent front suspension is an easy way to improve on-road performance, but to maintain ground clearance AMG developed tall upper wishbones that are bolted directly to the frame.

Of course, off-road fans know that a solid front axle is better for navigating tricky terrain, but Mercedes R&D boss Ola Källenius reassured us that the new G doesn't suffer for it. At a roundtable interview, Källenius said that the new G is quicker up and down Mercedes' favorite Austrian off-road proving center, the Schökl.

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"The G is the go-everywhere car," Källenius said. "We must make sure that in terms of off-road performance, it is the pinnacle of SUVs."

But like Moers, Källenius is quick to highlight the G's on-road improvements. Charitably, he describes the old G's recirculating ball steering as "authentic" and said that the G's new electric power assistance makes a world of difference.

"When you take a car where the base concept has stayed more-or-less the same for 40 years, and you get the chance to redo everything, then you just look at what's state of the art," Källenius said.

Brian Williams

And there's more to look forward to with the new G-Wagen. Moers said AMG's work on the base model lays a strong foundation for the inevitable AMG G63, which he hinted will arrive sooner than later.

The proof is in the driving experience, but it does sound like the new G will be big step forward for Merc's classic 4x4. We can't wait to drive it.

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