THE 2018 Mercedes-Benz G-Class will feature an interior that looks more at home inside one of the German luxury brand’s supercars than filling the guts of its boxy, rugged, quasi-military spec off-roader.
A highlight is the dash-mounted carbonfibre- or wood trim-faced grab handle on the vehicle’s passenger side, similar to what Jeep offers in the equally off-road capable, but much less luxurionus Wranger.
Lust like the two-box exterior that is expected to change little once the production design is unveiled, dominating the inside of the G-Class are geometric lines that include a similar wide dual-screen dash housed behind a single sheet of glass stretching across the front of the interior, similar to that rolled out in the E-Class, and S-Class saloon. Drivers can choose between "Classic", "Sport" and "Progressive” settings for the analogue-look digital instrument cluster.
Everywhere there are hints at the G-Class heritage; the round air vents in the squared brushed aluminium highlights mirror the headlights, while a square tweeter rising out of each side of the dash reflect the repeater lamps mounted high on the front guards where they wrap around to the bonnet.
Off-road functions have gone fully set-and-forget electronic, and are controlled via a knurled roller switch. A separate button mounted near the Comand multimedia interface allows the driver to select low-range. There’s still the diff lock selectors mounted high on the dash in their usual position, but even they have had a luxury makeover, losing the raw plastic look of the old buttons.
Interestingly, Mercedes-Benz has abandoned the gear selector on the centre console, instead going for a steering column-mounted selector for the transmission.
The interior is optimised for anyone sitting behind the steering wheel. “G-Class drivers are able to control the full infotainment system without taking their hands off the steering wheel,” Mercedes said. “The touch-sensitive Touch Controls on the steering wheel respond to swiping motions in the same way as the surface of a smartphone. Thanks to haptic impulses and additional feedback from the onboard speakers, the driver can use the touchpad without looking away from the road.
“The input options are rounded off by shortcut keys in front of the Controller for frequently accessed operating tasks, and by the optional control array for the driving assistance systems above the rotary light switch. The driver sits up close to the windscreen and enjoys good all-round visibility from behind the wheel.”
Another addition to this generation of the G-Class – and this is only the third generation of the off-roader since 1979 – is a “ Schöckl” badge set low on the B-pillar to denote the mountain that sits behind Mercedes-Benz’s German test facility, the real-world proving ground where the G-Class’s off-road prowess is tuned.
The G-Class’s standard audio system features seven speakers, but owners who prefer to drown out nature can option for a Burmester surround sound system with 16 speakers and a 590-watt amplifier.
Those who want a little bit more comfort off-road can choose between two luxury packages, with the most luxurious offering diamond quilt-patterned seats. An AMG pack featuring black seats with contrasting red stitching – and red seatbelts – is also available, with the AMG-badged G-Class adopting a flat-bottomed steering wheel for the first time.
Mercedes-Benz will unveil the 2018 G-Class range at January’s Detroit Motor Show.