Mercedes in amber
  • Image Credit: Daimler AG

Why encase an SUV in amber?

Mercedes-Benz is putting a lot of effort into the reveal of its new 2019 G-Class SUV next week at the Detroit Auto Show. How much emphasis? Well, the Stuttgart company will greet visitors by showcasing the first production G-Class from 1979 encased in a massive block of amber-colored synthetic resin at the entrance to Cobo Hall.

Mercedes G-Class encased in amber
  • Image Credit: Daimler AG

It weighs 49 tons.

The installation, teased in a 53-second video released last month, weighs nearly 49 tons. It shows a 280 GE suspended in amber and positioned as if it were traversing downhill or over a rocky mound, befitting the vehicle's rugged DNA. The company says it "symbolizes the timelessness of the off-road legend and makes a conscious reference to the natural phenomenon of insects preserved in amber."

Mercedes logo encased in amber
  • Image Credit: Daimler AG

It certainly makes a statement.

This installation is also meant to make a statement about the preservation of the genetic material of the G-Wagen, the marque's longest-running model series, being handed down from one generation to another. Looked at in another way, it takes the boxy off-roader from the realm of actual utility vehicle to something like a life-size Hot Wheels display for grown-up kids.
Mercedes encased in amber
  • Image Credit: Daimler AG

It's not the first crazy stunt at the Detroit Auto Show.

Auto shows are always about spectacle and conceptual art as much as they are about the actual sheetmetal on display, and this one figures to enter into North American International Auto Show lore. It recalls stunts such as Jeep crashing a Grand Cherokee through the glass doors of Cobo, Ram driving a herd of cattle through the streets of downtown Detroit in January or, many years prior, Volvo's use of walls encased in ice to define its show-floor space.
Mercedes G-Class in amber
  • Image Credit: Daimler AG

Here's hw it was made

Mercedes-Benz says it took 90 days to make the installation, which grew about 3 centimeters (a little more than an inch) in height each day and measures roughly 18 feet long, 8 feet wide and 10 feet high. It'll travel to other auto shows as the new G-Class debuts in other markets.
2019 Mercedes G-Class
  • Image Credit: Mercedes-Benz

Now there's a brand-new G-Class SUV.

This is the new G-Class, and despite looking like the old model left in a rock tumbler for about 30 seconds, it is actually very new. It's longer by 2.1 inches, and wider by 4.8 inches. That pays dividends in one of the G-Class SUV's weakest points: interior space. Leg, shoulder, and elbow room increases for both front and rear passengers.

Despite the bigger body, the new G-Class 375 pounds lighter than the model it replaces. This is because of extensive use of high-strength steel and aluminum. The body is primarily made up of the stiff steel, and the fenders, hood and doors are made of aluminum. The G-Class will be powered by the current G500's twin-turbocharged 4.0-liter V8. Output is unchanged at 416 horsepower and 450 pound-feet of torque. That power does go through a nine-speed automatic transmission and through all four wheels.

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