The Mecedes G-Class—or Gelandewagen or G-Wagen, if you prefer—arrived late to the expedition scene: It was only introduced in 1979 as a military vehicle, designed at the urging of the Shah of Iran, at the time an important stockholder in Mercedes-Benz. (The Shah put in a pre-order for 20,000 of them, subsequently canceled when he rather abruptly became the ex-Shah.) Once civilian versions became available, a small contingent of explorers appreciated the Holy Grail configuration of the G-Wagen (and could afford its premium price)—a massive, fully boxed chassis with up to six tubular crossmembers, equally overspecced solid axles riding on an all-coil suspension, and cross-axle differential locks front and rear. No other mid-sized expedition machine combined all those features.
Fast-forward to today. The vast majority of G-Wagens are now sold bloated with luxury options (64-color ambient lighting, anyone?), and the most challenging expedition they’ll face is a gallery-hopping run up Canyon Road in Santa Fe.
And yet, the basic bones remain—despite a move to (gasp) independent front suspension in 2018. Over the years the company has offered various “Professional” models with overland-friendly bling-delete spec-lists. Now it has announced a new, military-only (for now) model referred to as the W464 (succeeding the W461).
The company hasn’t released detailed specifications; however, it is known the new version will benefit from significantly more power, thanks to a 3.0-liter inline six-cylinder turbodiesel, producing 245 horsepower and 445 pound-feet of torque, run through an 8-speed auto transmission. The W464 also has a heavy-duty 24-volt electrical system. Finally, photos indicate it retains a solid front axle.
In contrast to these business-like features is the civilian-spec (with IFS) W463’s new “Professional Line Exterior Trim” package, which includes mesh stone guards for the headlamps, 18-inch wheels with mild-looking tires, and . . . mudflaps. A nice-looking roof rack is an option, as is a swing-away spare tire holder, and some truly alarming body colors.
Not sufficient for your professional overlanding needs? You can also order the “Night Package,” which includes black mirrors and—ready?—a black three-pointed star in the grille. See above.
Dear Mercedes: Can we please have the W464 instead?
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