• Image Credit: Mercedes-Benz
  • Image Credit: Mercedes-Benz
  • Image Credit: Mercedes-Benz
  • Image Credit: Mercedes-Benz
  • Image Credit: Mercedes-Benz
  • Image Credit: Mercedes-Benz
  • Image Credit: Mercedes-Benz
  • Image Credit: Mercedes-Benz
  • Image Credit: Mercedes-Benz
  • Image Credit: Mercedes-Benz
  • Image Credit: Mercedes-Benz
The Mercedes-Benz G500 4x4², finally ready to meet the crowds at the Geneva Motor Show, might just be the best factory-prepped expedition off-roader on the market, should Mercedes choose to build it. The short story is that some well-heeled admirers of the G63 AMG 6x6 said, "It's nice, but can you take it down a notch?" And by "notch" they meant "an axle." So the G500 4x4² gets just two portal axles instead of three, and a slew of other features.

The 4x4 squared offers up a standard G-wagen body, but instead of the 5.5-liter twin-turbo V8 from the G63, there's a new 4.0-liter twin-turbo V8 with 422 horsepower and 450 pound-feet of torque. Compared to the standard G500, the track is 11.8 inches wider, the street-cred rims being 22-inchers on 325/55 R-series tires. When it's time to get dirty, they can be swapped for an optional set of 18-inch wheels with 37-inch beadlock tires. With that setup and the same wheelbase as the G500 LWB, ground clearance and fording depth are more than doubled to 17.7 inches and 39 inches respectively, the angle of approach goes from 36 degrees to 52 degrees and the angle of departure leaps from 27 degrees to 54 degrees. Breakover angle is bumped from 21 degrees to 47 degrees, a two-piece stainless steel undertray protecting the sensitive bits when you push it. The only parts that get a raised eyebrow are the carbon fiber wheel arches and bumpers, which might behave badly when they meet an immovable granite object.

To escape the sensation of driving the Taj Mahal in urban environments, there's a twin spring-and-damper setup at each wheel. One of the spring-damper combos is electronically controlled and adjustable, and when called into action via the Comfort or Sport mode, takes control of wheel action; even when passive, it will kick in to automatically to stiffen the body if it detects evasive maneuvers.

On top of all that, to remind you that you're in a Mercedes the interior is fitted out with Designo leather trim and diamond-quilted microfiber. Mercedes is going to gauge its Geneva reception before deciding to build it, a hurdle we're sure will be overcome. Car and Driver drove it and verified it's the real deal, with pricing - if it's built - speculated to land between the G63 AMG and G65 AMG. The press release below has all the details.

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Near-series show car G 500 4x4²: The G-Class Squared

Stuttgart, Feb 21, 2015 -- Only a G-Class can be better than a G-Class. This is the credo followed by the developers with the Mercedes-Benz G 63 AMG 6x6, and they are now stepping up a gear with the G 500 4x4². The basic recipe for this overcomer of everything is simple: take the superior all-wheel-drive powertrain including portal axles from the 6x6 – take away one axle – and blend it all with a newly-developed variable chassis and the series-production G-Class body. A large pinch of V8 power with 310 kW (422 hp), a set of 22-inch 325/55 R 22-sized wheels, carbon-fibre body parts and then just gourmet ingredients from the seductive designo Exclusive range for the interior – and the 5-star menu for all off-road enthusiasts is ready.

A new addition to the extreme G-Class model family: the G 63 AMG 6x6 has a model brother in the form of the G 500 4x4². The near-series show car is a new highlight in the superlative-rich history of the G-Class and blends all the advantages of the model series. The series-production models of the G-Class supply the unshakeable foundations in the form of the body and ladder-type frame, which compensate for the considerably increased performance of the G 500 4x4² without any problem and also without any type of reinforcements. The G 63 AMG 6x6 donates an amended version of the ruggedly determined permanent all-wheel-drive powertrain with portal axles. The engine compartment houses a completely new V8 engine with a displacement of four litres, direct injection and biturbocharging. Also new is the chassis with dual spring/damper struts and adjustable damping. Finally, in the interior, the G 500 4x4² occupants enjoy comfort and an ambience on a par with a luxury saloon.

New engine offers V8 biturbo power
The 4.0 litre V8 biturbo engine in the G 500 4x4² stands out for its sublime power delivery, the targeted lightweight construction, as well as its high efficiency. The newly developed eight-cylinder features twin turbochargers which are not mounted on the outside of the cylinder banks but rather inside the V configuration – what is known as the 'hot inside V'. The advantages lie in the compact engine design, the optimum response and the low exhaust gas emissions. The piezo direct petrol injection used exclusively at Mercedes-Benz is responsible for the mixture formation. The spray-guided combustion process has been enhanced in the third generation to meet all future statutory requirements. In series production, the highly efficient and economical 4.0-litre V8 biturbo engine would meet the Euro 6 emission standard, including the maximum particulate emissions level that will not take effect until 2016.

The V8 crankcase consists of an aluminium alloy and ensures maximum strength with the lowest possible weight. The cylinder walls in NANOSLIDE® technology are twice as hard as conventional cast-iron cylinder liners, minimise the inner friction and thus the fuel required and facilitate maximum mileages. NANOSLIDE® was developed by Daimler starting in the year 2000 and has so far been used successfully and reliably in over 200,000 engines since 2006.

Twin sidepipes on both sides in front of the rear wheels modulate the G-typical sound of the G 500 4x4² and master the entire repertoire of potent sports cars - from soft mumbling in neutral through sonorous humming in the partial-load range to emphatic booming when accelerating under full load. A welcome side effect of the sidepipes: there is improved off-road capability, because in the rear area there are none of the usual rear silencers, which could otherwise restrict the angle of departure.

Things are really looking up both on and off-road
In view of the key data for the chassis and powertrain it seems more than logical that the off-road world starts for the G 500 4x4² where other vehicles capitulate. But it is surprising that the new "G" puts in an absolutely convincing performance on the asphalt. Due to the considerably wider track of the portal axles compared with the series-production car (+299 mm), the large 22-inch 325/55 R 22-sized wheels and the adjustable damping with its Sport mode, the enhanced G-Class drives through bends so dynamically that the occupants feel as though they are in a sports car rather than a cross-country vehicle. This also applies to tours on unsurfaced slopes or snow-bound roads, in which case the performance of a high-powered rally car kicks in.

For anyone preferring to use the G 500 4x4² off the beaten track, the optional off-road size 37 x 12.5 x 18-inch MT tyres are recommended. Permanent all-wheel drive, an off-road reduction in the transfer case, portal axles and three differentials lockable whilst on the move will not be found on conventional cross-country vehicles. This results in merciless driving dynamics in all conditions. Even the highest sand dunes are stormed by the show car with ease, whilst rocky terrain is scaled like a chamois, and water is driven through without any problems.

The portal axles developed for versatile applications supplement the off-road portfolio of Mercedes-Benz and are the technical highlight of the G 500 4x4² show car. As opposed to conventional rigid axles, here the wheels are not at the height of the centre of the axle, instead they are situated much further below on the axle heads due to the portal transmission. Therefore, on the G 500 4x4² the ground clearance rises to 450 millimetres and the fording depth – or rather the diving depth – to 1000 millimetres. Here are the off-road data in comparison with the series-production Mercedes-Benz G 500:

G 500 4x4² / Long-wheelbase G 500

Ground clearance
450 mm / 210 mm

Angle of approach/departure f/r
52°/54° / 36°/27°

Breakover angle
47°/ 21°

Tipping angle
30° / 28°

Fording depth
1000 mm / 600 mm

Slope climbing ability
100% / 100%

Wheelbase
2850 mm / 2850 mm

Track, front/rear
1774 mm / 1475 mm

Wheel/tyre combination
9.5 J x 22 (325/55 R 22) / 7.5 J x 18 (265/60 R 18)

At the highest level: the portal axles' tricks
But the portal axle design has yet more decisive advantages which render complex adjustments superfluous: through the unchanged position of the rigid axles in relation to the chassis, the anchorage points of the suspension, the steering connection and the position of the cardan shafts all remain identical. In addition, the reduction in the portal transmissions balances the huge rolling circumferences in both the off-road and the on-road tyres. The gear ratios, speedometer drive and ABS sensor system also remain unchanged. This reduction in the hub drives also has the effect that the drive torque is first set at the wheel and thus the mechanical loads in the entire powertrain, in particular for the drive shafts, are reduced.

Mobile declaration of independence – the chassis
The chassis is fundamentally based on the series-production G model and offers a perfect symbiosis of sporty dynamism and relaxed comfort, both on the road and off it. The new damper adjustment, derived from rally sport, has a decisive effect here. Two spring/damper struts running in parallel are used per wheel. One spring/damper strut works conventionally with set damper characteristics. The second spring strut has electronically controlled adjustable damping, which thus varies the entire damping behaviour depending on the current driving situation. With this set-up, considerable kingpin inclination is possible between the settings SPORT and COMFORT, which the driver can select using a button in the centre console. The switching times between the two modes are record-breakingly low, at 15 milliseconds.

During dynamic cornering the sporty setting performs sterling work, because the significantly tauter connection of the chassis allows higher cornering speeds. If the driver is more in the mood for pleasurable cruising, the COMFORT setting effortlessly dampens all the unevenness in the ground. In extreme situations such as abrupt evasive manoeuvres, the system automatically switches over to the firm setting for the sake of maximum possible handling safety. The comfortable setting also helps during off-road sessions, because the wheels retain better surface contact. Even on heavily contoured off-road terrain, every surface traction possibility can be utilised effectively.

Company with unlimited liability: beadlock wheels with MT tyres
Optimised tyres are available for the G 500 4x4², especially for punishing off-road trips: mud/terrain tyres (M/T) in size 37 x 12.5 x 18 inches on special beadlock wheels. Normally the usual wheel/tyre combinations refuse a traction-promoting lowering of the air pressure for journeys on sand, for example, to 0.5 bar. Here 1.0 bar is the lowest limit, because beneath this low pressure the tyres can come off during steering manoeuvres or ingression of sand can infiltrate the sealing surface between the tyre and wheel rim and thus leads to a slow puncture. Not so with the G 500 4x4². Here special two-piece 18-inch beadlock wheels are used. With this type of design, during assembly the tyre is pinched in so tightly between the two wheel halves and an inner beadlock ring that it cannot slip off the rim and no sand can enter, even in the case of total loss of air.

Should the chassis ever still come into harsh ground contact in spite of an anticipatory driving style and the excellent ground clearance, the developers have displayed far-sightedness here, too, and integrated a robust, two-piece underguard in stainless steel. These means that the most important assemblies in the front and rear area are well protected against impact and more severe shocks.

Sporty luxury squared
In visual terms the G 500 4x4² raises no doubts as to its passion. The voluminous tyres, the huge distance to the ground, the height of nearly 2.25 metres with a width of virtually 2.10 metres and the clear, straight design command respect right from the first glance. Further highlights: the trim with the integral LED light strips above the windscreen and the elaborate partially painted wheel-arch flarings - both in fine carbon fibre - plus the front bumper on the G 63 AMG and G 65 AMG models.

The interior appointments make a sportily luxurious impression. The G 500 4x4² offers an exclusive ambience with the designo Exclusive package. The seat bolsters and head restraints as well as the dashboard, centre console and armrests in the doors are styled in black designo leather with white contrasting topstitching. The seat surfaces and door panels are covered in DINAMICA microfibre and impress with their attractive diamond-design quilting. In addition to this there is DINAMICA trim for the roof liner and the body pillars.

The hub of the "G" world is in Graz
The Mercedes-Benz G-Class development department located in Graz is the centre of competence where all things "G" are concerned and is responsible for the development and series support of the legendary cross-country vehicle. Furthermore, Graz in Austria has been the production location for all civilian and commercial G-Class vehicles since 1979. Whether and when the decision on series production of the Mercedes-Benz G 500 4x4² will be made depends on the reaction which the near-series show car receives.

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