Like any rugged military off-roader, Mercedes-Benz's Geländewagen (or G-Wagen) is only naturally romantic to civilians who haven't had to eat cold beans in the back of one. Its status as an object of our fancies will only be renewed, as Mercedes will bring a slew of updates to its workhorse G-class next summer.
The W464, as Mercedes codes it, is the successor of the outgoing W461, the version of the G-Wagen intended "for use by states and authorities." Nevertheless, the W464 benefits from "experience gained from series production of the [W463] G-Class for the civilian market," and inherits components proven there first.
According to Australia's Drive, the W464 brings in LED lighting and a powertrain pulled from the civilian G400D. Its 2.9-liter turbodiesel straight-six gains heavy-duty cooling and can run on unrefined high-sulfur diesel at altitudes as high as 13,120 feet. The 245 horsepower and 443 pound-feet of torque it produces travel through a new nine-speed automatic (up from five) to all four wheels, which in crawl range can pull the G-Wagen up a 45-degree slope (though you'd better keep it pointed straight). On leveler ground, Mercedes says, its available 21- or 25-gallon tanks give it a range of around 373 miles.
Unlike the civvy G, the W464 has a spartan interior, a 24-volt electrical system, and in place of independent front suspension, a solid front axle to match the rear. This improves the vehicle's already renowned off-road performance, which it derives from 8.7 inches of ground clearance and approach, breakover, and departure angles of 35, 22, and 36 degrees respectively. Water fording limits increase over the W461 too, from 23.6 inches to 26.
Those extra inches might make the difference in getting the G-Wagen's cargo of anything from humanitarian aid to military equipment to its destination, and whatever that may be, it can deliver a lot of it. The enclosed four-seat SUV body is rated for a 2,200-pound payload. Its roof bars alone can handle 441 pounds, and the vehicle as a whole can tow more than 7,700. The extended-cab cutaway chassis can tow just as much, though it obviously trades real back seats for a greater payload capacity of 5,512 pounds.
Next-gen G-Wagens are slated to enter production in mid-2022, following the W461's curtain call during the first half of next year. Parts support will reportedly be maintained for 15 years, so should you track down a hoard of cheap surplus G-Wagens in the future, you can be confident that parts will remain plentiful.
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