OK, repeat after me: Gelandewagen. Now time try it with the “w” as a “v”. As in Ge-lander-vaaaagen. This concludes your German lesson for the day
Developed for the German military back in 1979, this rugged 4x4 that looks for all the world like a rolling cinder-block, has stayed true to its course of providing the ultimate in go-anywhere capability.
And over the years, just as the great Mark Twain said, the rumors of its death have been greatly exaggerated. Yes, its brick-like styling is very much an acquired taste, but to the NBA pro-athletes and wives-of-rock-stars who love them, there is simply no substitute for a G-Wagen.
But to make sure loyal owners keep coming back for more, Mercedes-Benz is giving the Big-G a makeover for 2013, primarily to make it more comfortable, and to justify a little more of the $100,000-plus sticker.
So the freshened interior gets a smart new instrument panel, new center console and lots of soft-touch material. Also, the new navigation screen is moved to the top of the dashboard in an iPad-style binnacle. New Mercedes technology bits, like Blind Spot Assist and adaptive cruise control, are also offered for the first time.
There are two new 2013 G-Class, or G-Wagen, models destined for the States come summertime; the G550 with its 388-hp 5.5-liter V8 and seven-speed auto, and the new-to-the-range G63 AMG replacing the previous G55.
This new bad-boy 63 comes with Merc’s 5.5-liter biturbo V8 packing 544-horsepower and 560 lb-ft of torque. A new feature is auto stop-start to improve fuel economy from stupid to only mildly ridiculous.
Since 1979, the focus of the G-Wagen has been supreme off-road ability, and both models continue to offer a trio of locking differentials - most SUVs are lucky to have one. This is an off-roader that could literally climb the side of a building.
There’s no word on final pricing, but expect stickers to continue close to those of the 2012 models, with the G550 at $107,100 and the G63 AMG starting at around $125,000.
If you’re looking for a serious alternative to that leather-lined Range Rover, or rapid Porsche Cayenne Turbo, this new G-Class will be worth a closer look. Remember, it’s hip to be square.