Despite entering production in 1979, the Mercedes-Benz G-Wagen is more popular than ever. Mercedes first tried to replace it with the M-Class the late 1990s, and again in the mid-2000s with the GL-Class, but customers flocked to the G—especially in the US, where Mercedes finally began importing the stodgy old truck in 2002. For 2018, the G-Wagen gets a significant update that sees the truck growing four inches wider and, for the first time, offering independent front suspension.
That's , which spoke with Mercedes G-Wagen head Gunnar Guethenke about the upcoming model. While larger dimensions and a modernized chassis mark the major changes, Guethenke promises that the 2018 G-Wagen will maintain much of the charm and uniqueness of the old model, retaining its body-on-frame construction, low-range gearbox, and three locking differentials.
"Those three are the cornerstones that differentiate the [G-Wagen] from other off-roaders and that ensure both durability and off-road capability," Guethenke told Automotive News.
Spy video from shows the 2018 G-Wagen in motion. The difference in size between the old and new G-Wagen is most apparent from the rear:
Automotive News also reports that the G-Wagen will get a new turbocharged six-cylinder engine for 2018. We suspect the two most likely candidates are the 3.0-liter twin-turbo V6 found throughout the Mercedes-Benz range, or the automaker's upcoming inline-six. The exhaust note of the car seen in the above video seems to indicate that a V8 will remain an option for the G—and surely, powerful AMG versions will remain in the lineup too.
The extra width and independent front suspension will increase comfort, but it sounds like the G-Wagen isn't changing radically. That's smart, because customers clearly love the G's old-school character.