Two test mules caught towing trailers

Mercedes-Benz is readying the next-generation Geländewagen, otherwise known as the G-Class or G-Wagen. A pair of camouflage-covered test mules were spotted roaming streets somewhere in Europe by YouTube user “Carlcox84 Automotive” during a break in an apparent towing evaluation. Both SUVs were hitched to aluminum testing trailers.

The short video shows the to G-Wagens stilling idle as Mercedes workers have a conversation. The low-key even probably wouldn’t have even been noticed had the vehicles not been wearing the swirly camo. That’s because the G-Wagen still carries the same basic look as it did in 1979. That’s when Mercedes began production of the vehicle as a competitor to the Land Rover Range Rover, Land Rover Defender, and other utility based off-road vehicles.

Despite the same classic shape holding true, the next-generation G-Class will have plenty of improvements, both inside and out. From the video and pas spy shots we’ve seen, this new model looks wider and a tad big longer. The larger size should afford more interior room and a more stable on-road driving experience. And since most G-Class owners don’t traverse through uncharted lands or through narrow hedgerows, the extra girth shouldn’t matter.

It will be interesting to see what changes Mercedes has in store for the G-Class. We expect to see a mild cosmetic update, but would imagine the G to keep the same iconic looks. It interior, however, should see huge improvements over the current generation. It is possible Mercedes will include an instrument panel designed after the E-Class sedan. Leather coverings, wood and carbon fiber accents, and finely machined metallic switchgear isn’t out of the question.

We expect Mercedes to drop the official details at an upcoming auto show before the G-Wagen hits showrooms for the 2018 model year. Perhaps it will break cover at the 2017 Geneva Motor Show.

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Why It Matters

Mercedes certainly has a hit on its hands with the G-Class. Here in America, the G is offered in three variants: the G550, the AMG G63, and the mighty AMG G65. All three comes with twin-turbocharged V-8s and full-time 4WD with three locking differentials.

The two AMG versions, ironically, are built for speed rather than off-roading. The G63 comes powered with a 5.5-liter biturbo V-8 making 563 horsepower and 561 pound-feet of torque. It’ll hit 60 mph in just 5.3 seconds. For those wanting the biggest and most expensive, the G65 comes with a 6.0-liter biturbo V-12 with 621 horses and a stump-pulling 738 pound-feet of torque. The sprint to 60 mph happens in just 5.2 seconds. Both engines in the AMG models are hand-assembled.

Pricing starts at $119,900 for the G550. The AMG G63 starts at $139,900, while the AMG G65 empties the Swiss bank account of $217,900. And all that is before options, fees, and taxes.

Needless to say, the G-Wagen is a statement of wealth more than transportation. Mercedes offers far better SUVs at far less expensive prices, but it’s the G-Wagen that’ll earn you attention at the Whole Foods parking lot. Unless you live near Rodeo Drive in California, which turns your quarter-million-dollar SUV into a common commuter car.

It’s for this reason Mercedes is dumping money into building a new generation of G-Class. It’s not for the soccer moms or those wanting something a bit nicer than a Suburban to haul the kids around. The G-Class is for those wanting a vehicular fashion accessory that just happens to hit 60 mph faster than a classic Ferrari and off-road better than a stock Jeep Wrangler Sport.

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