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.

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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."

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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.

"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.

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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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