The Mercedes G-Class will receive a facelift next summer. The highlight is the hydraulic chassis. However, only the AMG G 63 gets this. The chassis is similar to that of the Mercedes SL and does what it promises.
When it comes to large SUVs, there is currently a lot of activism. Before electric drives find their way into crossovers, the status-laden and not entirely cheap stilt vehicles will be spiced up again. Porsche is leading the way with the Cayenne and Mercedes is following suit with the G-Class. Ultimately, the company’s strategists don’t want to miss out on the revenue and high profit margins of classic cars with combustion engines. The Mercedes G-Class will receive a facelift next summer, in which aerodynamic elements will be adopted from the EQG and new engines will find their way into the off-road vehicle. All combustion engines get 48-volt mild hybridization. There will also be a diesel. So far so good. The traditionalists will hardly be happy that the G500 is a six-cylinder. At least the power cube AMG G 63 remains the same with a brutal eight-wheel. But the real highlight of the top model is the chassis. Just like their colleagues from Zuffenhausen did with the Cayenne, the Affalterbach company is giving the top G class new hydraulic legs.
Hydraulic chassis? Every driver of the Mercedes SL of the R230 series is tearing their hair out. After all, the technology that caused a stir in luxury roadsters in the early 2000s is considered good, but also fragile. The reason back then was that the development time was too short. Once a Swabian sets his mind to something, he follows through with it. Despite the marketing-laden name, the AMG Active Ride Control in the Roadster and its GT brother proves to be a real suspension expert with a wide range of driving modes: comfortable when desired, sportily firm when necessary. However, the dynamic setting is not accompanied by an uncompromising harshness that shakes the road dust out of your clothes just because you drive over a bump.
That sounds promising. Accordingly, the logic of the Affalterbach driving dynamics experts for the company’s own off-road vehicle is also stringent: What is good for the fast roadster can only be cheap for the G 63, is the conclusion. “We adopted the basics of the SL chassis and then adapted them entirely for the G-Class,” explains agility specialist Ralf Haug. The principle of the fully hydraulic chassis is just as identical as the name. “We ultimately move hydraulic columns,” explains the engineer. This happens crosswise via the rebound and compression stages of the dampers. If the body leans in a curve, the hydraulic oil works against it using a pump to keep the body as straight as possible. The undertaking is not as easy as it sounds. Finally, the chassis does not require traditional stabilizers. This regulates the hydraulics and is therefore faster and more sensitive than with electromechanical 48-volt roll stabilization.
In addition, the suspension travel, the axle kinematics and, above all, the weight are different in the G-Class than in the fabric roof athlete. So the pressures that the electric pump creates also have to be higher in order to lift the body up. In addition, there are the many parameters that go into tuning the chassis and have to be brought together: These include the torque distribution on the wheel, the power of the engine, the speed and the agility-promoting braking interventions of the ESP.
We got a first taste of how powerful the new power chassis is, which will be available in two versions. Either designed more for off-road or for asphalted paths. But first things first: On a classic, demanding off-road route, the damper valves are open, the body is decoupled and the axle articulation is at its maximum. As the AMG G 63, the G-Class lives up to its tradition as an all-rounder and can overcome even steep hills and large obstacles without stalling even once. “I can go anywhere with this car,” says developer Tobias Kress, adding that all of this is possible without the familiar three locks that are set in every G-Class. A look at the center console shows that the locks and gear reduction are actually deactivated. When we object that these systems belong to a Mercedes G-Class like driving through mud in a Camel Trophy, we receive a friendly, if somewhat pitying, smile.
What is impressive is the comfort with which the G-Class completes the hill and dale tour. The chassis absorbs every bump and cannot be disturbed by large, offset hills. How well the combination of springs, dampers and hydraulics works together becomes clear in the so-called sand hole, a high-speed railway made of solid sand with small hills and deep ruts as well as huge hollows. Here the off-road vehicle, which weighs over two tons, blasts over it as if there was no tomorrow. With any other SUV our stomach sensor would have sounded the alarm, but not with the new AMG G 63. “No SUV with a conventional chassis including stabilizers would be able to do that”; beams Tobias Kress.
Change of location or surface. Get on the asphalt. Now the miracle chassis should show what it can do when it gets down to business in the shark tank of street athletes. Here too, the developers didn’t promise too much. The spread of the most important driving modes Comfort, Sport and Sport+ is pronounced, with Sport being our first choice on most roads because the body is a little more connected and this prevents annoying rocking. Even in Sport+, the chassis is not inharmoniously hard. A sense of proportion in driving dynamics is the maxim. If you walk over cobblestones, the surface detection (suspension travel) registers this and softens the damper hardness. When driving freely, the stilt AMG acts more like a sporty car. The steering is harmonious, the G 63 goes exactly where the driver wants it and the body only moves marginally. “The residual rolling in fast corners is intended to represent natural driving behavior,” explains Ralf Haug. This fine tuning is made possible by the variability of the hydraulic system. If you want, you can adjust the hydraulic pressure of the chassis using the left of the two well-known AMG satellites, regardless of the driving program. So softer (less pressure), balanced (medium) and tight (high pressure).
I’m a recent graduate of the University of Missouri with a degree in journalism. I started working as a news reporter for 24 Hours World about two years ago, and I’ve been writing articles ever since. My main focus is automotive news, but I’ve also written about politics, lifestyle, and entertainment.