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Future models - Mercedes-Benz - G-Class

Mercedes-Benz refines new G-Class interior

Cabin fever: While the exterior of the updated G-Class is expected to retrain its rugged and off-road-ready look, its interior has received a vast overhaul, growing in size and now swathed in leather and woodgrain trim.

Premium soft-touch materials and modern tech for Mercedes’ new G-Class off roader

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Mercedes-Benz logo13 Dec 2017

By TUNG NGUYEN in STUTTGART

MERCEDES-BENZ has lifted the covers off its new-generation G-Class interior, revealing an E-Class-inspired upmarket cabin designed to refine the utilitarian SUV without softening its off-road capabilities.

However, despite the extra equipment and more premium finish, Mercedes-Benz G-Class marketing manager Ian James said he expected sales volume of the new rugged SUV to remain steady once it launches around the middle of next year.

“It’s taken a huge step forward for the G-Class (but) whether that will translate into more volume, more sales, I’m relaxed about that,” he said.

“We hit a record year in 2016 with 20,000 units, this year’s looking very strong as well. Beyond that, and with the new product, if we start to win market share away from the traditional SUVs, that’s great, but at the same time we’ve got to keep the G-Class exclusive.

“That’s part of its charm, that’s part of its character – so we’ll watch it fairly closely.”

When asked if the new-generation G-Class could encroach into the prestige SUV territory occupied by its GLE and GLS stablemates given the lift in interior quality, Mr James said the G-Wagon is differentiated by its heavy off-road ability.

“I think the G-Class is so unique as a product,” he said. “The GLE is … a fantastic SUV, (but) what we have with the G-Class is – from a German perspective – a Gelandewagen, a proper off-roader, so therefore I don’t think there is going to be really that much of an overlap.

“From my perspective, one of the things I wanted to make sure with the marketing and communications side of things is that it’s really positioned first and foremost as the off-roader.

“We want people to understand what we’ve done – the changes that we’ve made – have further strengthened that role.

“There are a few things in there which come out of the other model ranges, the double display for example. I think there is enough … unique G-Class features in there as well to keep it unique.”

The new-look cabin now features a widescreen display incorporating a central 12.3-inch infotainment screen and instrumentation into a single panel, similar to Mercedes’ fifth-generation E-Class range.

As standard, the analogue dials will display vehicle and engine speeds – as well as auxiliary information – but higher-spec models will use an all-digital instrumentation that can be customised between Classic, Sport and Progressive styles.

High-quality, soft-touch materials replace the hard-plastic interior of the current model, with leather upholstery and woodgrain trim included as standard.

Creature comforts befitting a premium brand are also included at no extra cost, including a seven-speaker sound system, heated and power-operated front seats, and multi-function leather-clad steering wheel with haptic feedback controls.

That said, the new-look interior also acknowledges the G-Class’ off-road positioning – and its heritage – with a chunky passenger-side grabhandle, chrome-highlighted differential lock switches positioned in the middle of the centre stack, round air vents to mirror the shape of the headlights and front fender-protruding indicators visible from the cockpit.

Options on international versions will include cooled and massaging seats, a premium 16-speaker Burmester sound system and wireless phone charging, as well as new colours and material finishes for the interior.

For the first time in a G-Class, an AMG-line package will also be offered, featuring black seat upholstery, a flat-bottomed steering wheel and red stitching highlights throughout the cabin.

The gear selector has also moved from its position between driver and passenger to a stalk behind the steering wheel, which mirrors Mercedes’ more mainstream offerings.

The shift means that the new G-Class can accommodate Mercedes’ Comand controller touchpad and a large storage pocket below the centre stack.

Interior space was also paramount in the redesigned G-Class, with front and rear legroom growing by 38mm and 150mm respectively, while shoulder width has also increased for first and second row passengers (+38mm front, +27mm rear), as well as elbow room (+68mm front, +56mm rear).

The increase in interior dimensions will result in a longer and wider exterior, although Mercedes is saving the full reveal for next month’s Detroit motor show, with the new G-Class expected to retain the same rugged, off-roading styling as the current vehicle.

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