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Future models - Mercedes-Benz - G-Class

Sub $100K Benz G-wagen

Niche wagen: Mercedes-Benz is considering the AMG version of its G-Wagen, the G55, alongside more prosaic workhorse models.

Mercedes aiming to import a basic off-road diesel version of the 30-year-old G-wagen

Mercedes-Benz logo27 Oct 2009

By BYRON MATHIOUDAKIS

MERCEDES-BENZ is set to relaunch the G-wagen (Geländewagen) in Australia by late next year, led by a sub-$100,000 ‘Pur’ CDI diesel.

Aimed at rural and serious off-road buyers, this basic five-door wagon is described by Mercedes insiders as a “no thrills” workhorse, although necessities such as air-conditioning and the usual suite of active and passive safety systems such as airbags and electronic driving aids will obviously be included in the price.

To that end, the G-wagen uses live front and rear axles with long-travel coil spring suspension, a low-range transfer case with electronic differential locks, and a recirculating-ball steering system.

The Pur will also be joined by a luxury-focussed G500 V8 petrol and G55 AMG high-performance variant.

Mercedes is scheduling a release date in the fourth quarter of 2010, although vehicles may arrive slightly earlier than that, according to when the Austrian factory can supply. All G-wagens are built by Steyr-Daimler-Puch in Graz.

4 center imageThe Pur will most probably be powered by a modified version of the 3.0-litre CDI V6 diesel that is currently doing the rounds in everything from the C320 and S350 to the gargantuan GL320.

As we reported earlier this year in GoAuto, we understand that an upcoming upgrade may see this powerplant pump out 174kW/540Nm by the time the G320 (or G350) CDI lands in Australia. It is expected to be mated to Mercedes’ 7G-Tronic automatic gearbox.

This compares with the 285kW/530Nm 5.5-litre V8 offered on overseas versions of the coming G500, as well as the G55 AMG’s supercharged 373kW/700Nm 5.4-litre V8. Both of these are five-speed auto-only applications.

Mercedes is also considering the introduction of a G350 using its ubiquitous 3.5-litre V6 petrol/7G-Tronic combination that currently produces 200kW and 350Nm, but no firm decision has yet been made on this.

“We are still in the final stage of negotiations regarding details, including prices,” said Mercedes-Benz car group director Horst von Sanden.

He also expects the flamboyant G55 AMG to appeal to a select type of buyer.

“We would not push the G55 AMG in Australia,” he said.

“There is certainly a limited number of customers out there that love that kind of vehicle.

“But I think it will be very much a niche for us.” Mr von Sanden does not have high sales expectations for the whole G-wagen range for Australia.

“I think if we could do 200 units in total then that would be a surprise for us,” he said.

The first G-wagen to arrive in Australia was the W460 300GD in late 1982, powered by a normally aspirated 3.0-litre five-cylinder diesel engine mated to a four-speed automatic gearbox (a short-wheelbase two-door wagon model was added in April 1985, along with the option of a five-speed manual gearbox).

A 230GE LWB wagon utilising a 2.3-litre four-cylinder petrol engine was added a year later, before the G-wagen was discontinued at the end of 1989.

The opportunity to relaunch the series has come on the back of Mercedes’ 2007 Australian Defence Force contract to supply 1200 military versions from this year, beating out Land Rover and Toyota.

A secondary order of a further 1000 vehicles is also under consideration by the defence force, while a Mercedes spokesman said the company was also chasing sales from big industries such as mining, as well as Victoria’s Country Fire Authority.

To date more than 200,000 G-wagens have been sold worldwide.

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