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Future models - Mercedes-Benz - GL-Class

First look: Heir to G-class throne revealed!

Luxury: GL-class will be powered by mighty turbo-diesel and V8 engines.

Mercedes-Benz reveals all-new GL-class and confirms Gelaendewagen successor for Oz

12 Dec 2005

AS revealed by GoAuto in June, the successor to Mercedes-Benz’s legendary G-class off-roader will be made available in Australia. The German luxury giant confirmed the news on Friday, when it lifted the lid globally on its all-new GL-class four-wheel drive.

The good news is the GL-class will come here earlier than expected in the fourth quarter of 2006, following its world public premiere at the Detroit motor show in January and its European market release in September next year.

The new seven-seater will join the second-generation M-class five-seater released here in November and the forthcoming R-class seven-seat people-mover, making it Mercedes’ first modern 4WD with three rows of seats.

But fans of the original G-wagon, which carved a solid reputation for its Spartan cabin accommodation and go-anywhere ability, may be shocked to learn of its maker's description as a premium or luxury SUV.

Either way, while Australian specifications and pricing remain unknown, there’s no doubting the GL-class will offer more performance than its utilitarian forebear.

4 center imageThe most basic version, badged the GL 320 CDI, will be powered by a 165kW version of the 3.0-litre turbo-diesel V6 found in M-class and should feature as standard Benz’s Thermatic automatic climate control for all occupants and the first-in-class Pre-Safe safety concept.

Diesel power reaches new heights with the GL 420 CDI, powered by an oil-burning 4.0-litre V8 offering 225kW/700Nm.

GL-class will also be available in Europe with the new 285kW 5.5-litre V8 that debuted in the new S-class, which goes on sale here in February.

Alongside the GL500, however, will be a 250kW 4.6-litre V8 that makes its world-first appearance in the GL450, while AMG’s 6.3-litre V8 – as seen in the forthcoming ML63 – is also on the cards. All GL-class engines will be mated to Mercedes’ 7G-Tronic seven-speed automatic transmission.

GL-class measures 5088mm long, 1920mm wide and 1840mm high, has an aerodynamic co-efficient of 0.37Cd and rides on a 3075mm wheelbase.

Combined with a permanent 4Matic all-wheel drive system and standard Airmatic air suspension, Mercedes says the result is outstanding handling both on and off-road.

These features are complimented as standard by speed-sensitive power steering, an Adaptive Damper System (ADS), ESP stability control, Trailer Stability Assist (TSA), Downhill Speed Regulation (DSR), a hill-start assist feature and off-road ABS.

As with the new M-class, an optional Off-Road Pro engineering package includes a two-speed transfer case, centre and rear differential locks and modified air suspension, which offers up to 307mm of ground clearance and a maximum fording depth of 600mm.

With the two individual third-row seats folded away at the push of a button, GL-class offers 1240 litres of cargo capacity, extending up to 2300 litres with the second row of seats stowed.

Benz says its monococque chassis provides passive safety levels far superior to comparable ladder-framed off-roaders.

Two-stage front airbags, front side airbags and optional full-length curtain bags deliver further passive safety measures, as do three-point seatbelts for all seven occupants.

The GL will be built alonside M-class and R-class at DaimlerChrysler's Tuscaloosa plant in Alabama, and will continue on sale in Europe alongside the current G-class, which enters its 26th year in production.

* Mercedes-Benz Australia's plan to release a limited number of the current G55 AMG hyper-4WD now appears unlikely to come to fruition, following an unattractive pricing structure from Stuttgart HQ.

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