For the first time since the late 1980s the iconic Mercedes-Benz G-Class will see a major relaunch coming January. At a secret location in Southern Germany I had a first opportunity to take a closer look at the interior of the new Mercedes G.

The Mercedes G-Class road car was first introduced in 1979 and still remains very true to the original today. Along with the Lada Niva it is one of very few cars from that era that remain on sale today. In the late 1980s the ‘460’ G-Class became the ‘463’ G-Class, since that time the G received many smaller updates and spawned many different body styles including a convertible and more recently six-wheeler variant but the dimensions and look remained largely unchanged. Although the ‘463’ designation will remain with the upcoming relaunch it is as significant as the one from the 1980s.

Most importantly the new G will be 100mm wider and 54mm longer as the current G-Class. This particularly aids the driver and passengers with rear passengers gaining as much as 15 cm more legroom. This all sounds good – knowing how limited the space is in my G63 – but will the new G remain as iconic as the old one?

My encounter with the new G interior was staged in a dark room – no pun intended – with just the interior light of the car on as Mercedes intends to keep the new exterior a secret for a bit longer. Inside a brand-new interior awaits. But before I acknowledge all that’s new; a few things that remain.

What stayed

Inside you will find a few familiar things like the handle bar for the passenger to hold on to, the three distinct buttons to engage the differential locks and the switches to open the windows on top of the door.

Although this preview was very much about the interior I couldn’t help but notice some exterior elements that remained too. Even in the dark I could clearly recognize the indicators on the top of the front bonnet, the old school door handles, the side exhaust pipes, side steps and the spare wheel cover mounted at the single rear door. Opening the door to the driver’s seat I could hear the familiar clicking sound every G owner will recognize immediately. When I closed the door, or should I say slammed the door shut, it made the same distinct sound as the old G. Great!

What is gone

A few things that have gone: the basketball net that doubled as the only front cup-holder (the current G has no storage space whatsoever so the two center cup holders and the two in the doors are welcome additions but the basketball net is gone) and the gear lever in the center console (is replaced by a lever on the steering wheel).

What is new

The rest is all new, partly inspired or carried over from the latest generation E- and S-Class like the steering wheel (which is a bit too thin for my liking), center console and the optional dual infotainment display. The interior also sports a few unique design elements like the air vents shaped like the front headlights and the Burmester speakers shaped like the front indicators. Several new trim lines are available including ‘Metal Structure’ and various different open pore woods.

The most significant upgrade are the seats and the space inside in general. Tall drivers and passengers will no longer struggle to find a comfortable driving position and the seats now offer all the latest luxury you can also find on the S-Class like a massage function. The rear bench comes with a ski hatch and 8-step adjustable cargo setting. The rear passengers sit slightly higher as the front row giving them a better view at the same time the rear floor is raised slightly as well.

The infotainment systems (version 5.5) provides the latest in connectivity and entertainment. You can charge your smartphone wirelessly in the center console. Adjustable ambient lighting is now also available and so is keyless GO. Customers can choose between two digital displays or one digital display with analogue speedometer and rev counter. I would probably opt for the latter as it fits the G-class character better. Judging by the buttons found on the left side of the steering wheel new assistance systems like lane assist will also come to the mighty G.

Overall the new Mercedes-Benz G represents a serious leap in driver and passenger comfort and pretty much all my issues with the interior of the current G-Class have been resolved. I’m very happy many of the elements that make the Mercedes G such an iconic car appears on the next generation too. The interior design is a bit too playful for my taste but you can’t have it all!

Stay tuned for more about the new G here on v-bulgaria in the upcoming weeks.

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