The Mercedes G-Class and its 2012 upgrades

by Bernd

in Mercedes G-Class

Mercedes G-Class, Mercedes-Benz museum

So far I have not yet written a book about the Mercedes G-Class model that has taken on, just as the famous SL, a life of its own. So I start with a blog instead first. No Mercedes can look back to such a long production history. Like another icon in this category, the Range Rover, it is a car in its own league so to speak. And from its introduction in 1979 to its 2012 update, the outside of the Mercedes G-Class model has not really changed that much. And luckily the designers had the wisdom to restrain themselves

 Mercedes G-Class, Mercedes-Benz museum

After 33 years of gradual improvements, management of Daimler-Benz thought to give the Mercedes G-Class once again some fresh momentum. A comprehensive facelift should make this classic among off-road vehicles an attractive, yet pricy alternative to other competitors. With a new and luxurious interior, some discreet modifications to the exterior, new safety features, a new infotainment system and, in some cases, new engines, the Mercedes G-Class was upgraded  in a continuation of its long evolution.

The G-Class was originally developed as a military vehicle for the Shah of Persia. After the Iranian revolution, this had to be abandoned of course, so it was then decided to make it available instead for private customers, although the Mercedes G-Class still ended up to be used by many armies around the world. Over the course of its long years of production, the specification has been regularly modified to reflect the requirements of its customers – but the essential character of the Mercedes G-Class: to be used in tough, off-road terrain, has always remained unchanged.

Over the years, state-of-the-art electronics have been applied in order to further improve its already outstanding off-road capabilities. At the same time Mercedes-Benz has continued to work on bringing the interior appointments and road-going qualities to the same standards as for the other Mercedes cars. Its outstanding capabilities in rough terrain, its performance as a towing vehicle and its luxurious look and feel have helped to make sure that the Mercedes G-Class is still going strong after what is now a third of a century. And just as in 1979, the car is today still largely hand-built at the Steyr Daimler-Puch plant in Graz, Austria.

 Mercedes G-Class, Mercedes-Benz museum

New features of the Mercedes G-Class:

The most important new interior features of the 2012 facelift include:

  • a completely re-designed, high-quality dashboard with central, free-standing 17.8 cm colour display unit,
  • a completely re-designed centre console with centre dome and generously-sized trim elements,
  • a new instrument cluster with round-dial instruments and TFT colour display, as well as new multifunction steering wheel with shift paddles,
  • COMAND Online with internet access, operated through the COMAND Controller,
  • re-designed, extremely functional and ergonomic controls,
  • and a new air conditioning control unit.

In order to ensure that the Mercedes G-Class loses none of its character, some typical features of the interior have been retained:

  • grab handle on the dashboard for the front passenger,
  • switches for the differential locks highlighted in chrome,
  • shift lever on the centre console rather than on the steering wheel.

Mercedes G-Class, Mercedes-Benz museum

Some minor modifications have been made to the exterior:

  • new exterior mirrors,
  • new LED daytime running lamps
  • and, for the AMG models, a new radiator grille with twin slats, new bumpers with large air intakes as well as red brake callipers and, for the first time, 20-inch rims.

 Mercedes G-Class, Mercedes-Benz museum

The new generation of the Mercedes G-Class also offers a range of improved safety features:

  • a completely reconfigured ESP® with an automatic control system that includes start-off assist and a HOLD function,
  • in an emergency braking situation, when the driver suddenly releases the accelerator and hits the brake pedal, the brake system increases the pressure in the brake lines, so applying the brake pads to the disks. This ensures maximum effect as soon as the brake is applied. This “pre-filling” function supports the Brake Assist system (BAS) that is already fitted as standard
  • two radar-based systems: Blind Spot Assist and the adaptive cruise control system DISTRONIC PLUS.

DISTRONIC PLUS adjusts the distance to the vehicle in front automatically. If necessary, it can apply the brakes to bring the off-roader to a stop, and then accelerate again. Blind Spot Assist issues a warning if it identifies the presence of a vehicle where it can only be seen with difficulty, in other words in the driver’s “blind spot”,

  • for customers ordering the optional trailer coupling, the ESP® system includes a trailer stabilization feature that acts to nip any threat of sinusoidal oscillation, or ‘fishtailing’, on the part of the trailer in the bud, so making driving with a trailer far safer and
  • a useful aid to parking is provided by the PARKTRONIC system, which now monitors the area both to the front and to the rear of the vehicle. This can be combined with a reversing camera, so improving both visibility and safety when reversing.

Four engines to choose from:

The Mercedes G-class offers two body variants

  • the four-door long-wheelbase Station Wagon and
  • the G500 as a Cabriolet with short wheelbase.

The entry-level model for the long-wheelbase Station Wagon is the G350 BlueTEC with 6-cylinder diesel engine and a displacement of 2987 cc. It has an output of 155 kW (211 hp) at 3,400 rpm and produces a torque of 540 NM from 1600 to 2400 rpm. The BlueTEC technology developed by Mercedes-Benz is used to minimize the engine’s emissions, particularly of nitrogen oxide (NOx). The G350 BlueTEC uses AdBlue, an aqueous urea solution, which is injected into the exhaust-gas stream. This process releases ammonia, which converts up to 80 percent of the nitrogen oxides into harmless nitrogen and water by a process of reduction in the downstream SCR catalytic converter. Since the Mercedes G-Class is often used in remote areas of the world, as indeed it was designed to do, the engineers have made things even simpler by integrating the AdBlue filler cap into the vehicle’s filler neck compartment, accessible from the outside. One full tank of AdBlue is good for around 12,000 kilometers.

Mercedes G-Class, Mercedes-Benz museum

The alternative to the diesel engine is the G500, with its powerful 5.5-litre V8 petrol engine. This has an output of 285 kW (387 hp) and offers excellent torque of 530 NM. The same engine also ensures that the G500 Cabriolet has generous reserves of power to deal with any situation.

New to the Mercedes G-class are the V8 G63 AMG and the mighty V12 G65 AMG versions, both of which will be covered in a separate blog in a few days.

The Mercedes G-Class engines at a glance:



Displacement cc

kW/hp at rpm

Nm at rpm

l/100 km

CO2 g/km

G 350 BlueTEC

V6 diesel


155/211 at 3400

540 at 1600-2400



G 500



285/387 at 6000

530 at 2800-4800



G 63 AMG

V8 Biturbo


400/544 at 5500

760 at 2000-5000



G 65 AMG

V12 biturbo


450/612 at 4300-5600

1000 at 2300-4300




Automatic transmission for lower consumption:

Both, the G350 and G500 come with the 7G-TRONIC PLUS automatic transmission as standard. It has been thoroughly revised in order to optimize consumption and comfort compared with its predecessor. The new generation of torque converter is said to offer an improved dynamic response and reduced noise and vibration levels thanks to a new hydraulic circuit, enhanced dampers and a revised torque converter housing. Other refinements to help increase fuel economy are:

  • the gearshift program in ECO mode was adapted in favor of lower engine rpm at cruising speeds,
  • friction-optimized bearings and seals ware added and
  • a new automatic transmission oil (FE-ATF) with reduced viscosity in conjunction with an optimized additive package.

An added benefit is that the improved longevity of the new transmission oil means that oil change intervals have extended from 50,000 km to now 125,000 km.

 Mercedes G-Class, Mercedes-Benz museum

A special Mercedes G-Class version for adventurers and explorers:

In addition to the luxury versions of the upgraded Mercedes G-Class, also a so-called G-Class Professional model is offered. This somewhat stripped-out, more practically-oriented version focuses on the robustness and reliability of the G-Class and id more in line with the military versions. It has been specifically created for extreme operations in rugged terrain and, as such, is eminently suitable for use by rescue services, for example. There are of course also private individuals who opt for the classic model for extreme off-road and expedition use.

Mercedes G-Class, Mercedes-Benz museum

The upper picture shows the interior of the G350, while the one below shows the clearly more utilitarian Mercedes G-Class Professional.

Mercedes G-Class, Mercedes-Benz museum

All pictures courtesy of Daimler AG

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