My Apathy for the New G-Class
As you may come to find out, I am a huge Mercedes Benz fan-boy. Recently there has been a lot of anticipation for the new G-Class, which will be debuted at the Detroit Autoshow in a few days. I am as much of a fan of the G-Class as everyone else. It is an iconic shape, and like the Land Rover Defender, has grown its own cult following. However, I find myself caring less about the release of this face-lifted G-Class, and part of the reason why is because of the cult following it has developed over the years.
The G-Class (or G-Wagen) has been around for nearly 40 years, and Mercedes has done all it can to keep its legendary shape and spirit. The car has certainly grown larger and heavier like all cars have over time with more technology to cram inside than ever, but overall the people at Mercedes never lost the idea of its utilitarian-offroad roots. The SUV still has locking differentials, and high ground clearance to conquer anything as treacherous as dinner with your in-laws. The body is even hand-welded with galvanized steel for strength, and dipped in a hot wax to prevent corrosion. It takes more than 40 hours to put the thing together by hand. The attention to detail on Mercedes’ most expensive base SUV is staggering, and clearly deserves the high price tag. Sadly, however, it all does not matter.
Somewhere down the G-Class’ lineage it turned into more of a status symbol. The price of the car became simply about being able to afford one. Soon thereafter, flashy bits of chrome started appearing, and next thing you know it became one of the greatest over-engineered “grocery-getters”. Rather than tracking the mud from the deep marshes and jungles of South America, it was tracking the mud from children’s cleats after lacrosse practice. It used to be seen in the deserts on safari next to some exotic cat, and now it is most often seen in the music video of some rap artist next to an exotic dancer. Look, I know you have heard this over and over again. It is the same story with the Range Rover, but Land Rover has at least acknowledged its place in today’s market.
Mercedes have kept auto enthusiasts and off-roaders happy by keeping the guts and bones of the car true to its heritage, and that is great. It is certainly still capable of thrashing through the wilderness, but now can also do so while your exotic dancer girlfriend/boyfriend bathes in the comfort of luxury. This new iteration will be no different, with Mercedes emphasizing its DNA and supposed homage to earlier generations. Once again, all of this will not matter, as the majority of consumers purchasing the car will not care for its DNA. Mercedes is in the greatest catch-22 to keep two different parties happy, and I am not quite sure which one they are wasting their time and money on (if I had to be honest, probably us car-enthusiasts).
I know nothing will truly change with the new G-Class. Yes, it will have its latest 9G Transmission, a new transfer case, a 34% stiffer frame, and other new Mercedes mastery, but despite all of this, you will still find it most often sitting spotless in your local shopping center. Knowing this, I do not think I will truly be excited for another G-Class until they offer a stripped out version, bring back the shorter wheel based two door, or both.