Future Models - Mercedes-Benz 2012 G-Class
G-class to get Professional
German workhorse: G-Professional commercial models were revealed in Europe two years ago and could be sold here.
Mercedes-Benz looks to the commercial market for more G-class customers
11 March 2011
THE Australian army’s order of some 1100 G-class vehicles over the next five years has opened the door for Mercedes-Benz to reintroduce the civilian vehicle in Australia in the shape of this month’s G350 BlueTec and G55 AMG.
However, it has also presented the chance for Benz to offer a commercial variant of the military vehicle – two examples of which are currently undergoing local evaluation - for Australian industry and tour operators.
While the G350 and G55 wagons are built on the BR463 platform, the military versions the Australian army is buying are built on a heavier-duty BR461 chassis. To celebrate the 30th anniversary of the Gelandewagen in February 2009, Mercedes-Benz produced a civilian version of the BR461 that, with its basic equipment and lower specification, was a closer representation of the original G-wagen of 1979.
This limited-edition was called the Edition 30.PUR and since the anniversary year these vehicles have become known as the BR461 G-Professional.
Mercedes-Benz Australia currently has two G-Professional vehicles - a single-cab/chassis and a wagon - in the country undergoing evaluation for possible introduction here. They are being pitched at fleet buyers for mining and other industries that require heavy-duty 4x4 light commercial vehicles.
Nissan Patrol cab-chassis, Toyota LandCruiser 79 Series and to a lesser extent the Land Rover Defender cab-chassis variants have until now filled these roles, but a new player from Mercedes-Benz could prove to be a worthy alternative.
Left: Mercedes-Benz Edition 30.PUR.
The Professional G-class uses the lower-tune turbo-diesel V6 CDI engine that offers 140kW and 400Nm, backed by a five-speed automatic transmission. It employs the same full-time 4x4 system with low-range transfer case and triple differential locks as the more luxurious 463-series wagons.
The 461-series Professional rides on 16-inch wheels in either steel or black-painted alloys and the electrical system is 24-volt for powering heavy-duty accessories.
G-Professional vehicles have just a single airbag for the driver and do not come with ABS brakes or electronic stability control (ESC). This is something that would need to be addressed if the vehicle were to be offered here as many worksites demand the latest vehicle safety equipment and ESC is now required for all light vehicles to be sold in Victoria.
Other external keys to identifying the 461 Professional models are the flexible black rubber wheel-arch flares and a basic black grille without chrome. In Europe there is also a two-door van on the same 2850mm wheelbase as the wagon, while a double-cab/chassis is being developed.
The single-cab/chassis that is being tested here rides on a 3428mm wheelbase, has a payload close to two tonnes and a GVM of 4300kg, which would make it particularly attractive to fleet operators. The best payload currently on offer in this class is 1777kg for the Defender 130 single-cab, followed by 1385kg for the Defender 110 single-cab and 1300kg for the LC79 and leaf-sprung Patrol.
Inside, the 461 Professional wagons have just four seats trimmed in hard-wearing cloth material with two individual seats in the rear, manual wind-down windows, a simple dashboard and gauge cluster and a hose-out heavy-duty floor covering. The cab-chassis just has two seats.
In Europe, there are a range of factory accessories available to customise the G-Professional to different applications, including a full-length roof rack for the wagon, air-intake snorkel, 24-volt power winch, bull-bar, all-terrain tyres, walk-on bonnet and light protectors. The G-Professional is also tailored for 4x4 expedition use or for NGOs working in remote areas.
The stripped-out hard-working Gs are not expected to match the Nissan, Toyota or Land Rover vehicles in this class on price, yet they would cost considerably less than the luxuriously appointed 463 civilian wagons.
The mining industry in particular has never been happy with the popular current offerings and some mining companies go to extraordinary and expensive lengths to modify or import specialised vehicles. If the price is right, the G-Professional could provide the alternative they are looking for.