New for the 2017 model year, the Mercedes-Benz G550 4x42 will join the Mercedes-Benz family of SUVs in the United States. The 4x42 is the most capable G-Class ever, boasting innovative portal axles, three locking differentials, a ground clearance of more than 17" and a 4.0L V8 biturbo engine. The G550 4x42 will be available in US dealerships beginning in early 2017.
Since development of the G-Class began in 1972, the military--turned-passenger- vehicle has been hand-built in Graz, Austria. The name Gelaendewagen translates literally to "off road vehicle." Since 1979, more than 250,000 vehicles have been delivered to customers around the globe.
In the United States, the G550 4x42 joins the already-robust G-Class lineup, which features the 416 hp G550, the 563 hp AMG G63, and the 621 hp AMG G65, notably featuring a handcrafted AMG 6.0L V12 biturbo engine producing a massive 738 lb-ft of torque.
Following in the footsteps of the AMG G63 6x6 (not available in the US market), the G550 4x42 utilizes the series-model G-Class platform as the starting point for an advanced off-road machine featuring advanced portal axles and aggressive body styling.
The ladder-type frame found in the G-Class provides the ideal platform for the immense capability afforded by the G550 4x42. Constructed of steel, up to 4mm (.16 in) thick in some areas, the frame requires over 6,400 individual welds to be fully assembled before it is dip-primed (utilizing electrophoresis) and powder- coated. All interior cavities of the frame are then treated with a hot wax for added protection against water, snow, salt and sand.
The frame of the G-Class provides a robust platform that is better suited for off- road use than a unibody, offering ideal protection for the fuel tank, exhaust system and drivetrain if the vehicle bottoms out on an off-road obstacle. When driving on articulating surfaces, the ladder-type frame prevents the body from twisting forces which could severely damage a more conventional unibody.
No modification or reinforcement to the frame found under existing G-Class models was required when building the G550 4x42 despite the adaptation of highly- specialized and capable portal axle system.
Equipped with dual springs and damper struts, the G550 4x42 has an extremely high range of available spring travel to ensure maximum surface contact even on the toughest off-road terrain. Adjustable-damping shocks are aided by two stabilizer bars ensure a comfortable ride off-road and sporty performance on-road despite a large amount of ground clearance.
One of the technical highlights of the G550 4x42 are the portal axles. Unlike a conventional axle, the portal axles found on the 4x42 allow for axle input and the wheel center to be two drastically different heights. By utilizing a series of gears similar to those found in a transmission, power is transferred from the G-Class" rigid axles downward to the wheel hub.
Portal axles allow suspension geometry, steering connections and drive shafts to remain unchanged from other G-Class models thanks to their ability to keep the position of the rigid axles relative to the chassis unchanged. Load is reduced from all reciprocating components, especially the drive shafts, thanks to the internal gears found in the portal axles. Further, as the speedometer takes a reading from the rigid axles, fitting larger and more aggressive off-road tires does not require a recalibration of the speedometer.
The addition of portal axles has provided a max load ground clearance of over 17" and has increased track width over a conventional G-Class by over 9" in the front and 10" in the rear.
The G500 4x42 offers unprecedented amounts of off-road capability, even in comparison with the G550. Portal axles have afforded the 4x42 the ability to off- road where even heavily-modified off-road vehicles wouldn't dare thanks to massive ground clearance, fording depth, approach, departure and breakover angles.
|Max approach angle||30°||51.6°||+21.6°|
|Max departure angle||30°||43.8°||+13.8°|
|Maximum tilt angle||28.4°||28.4°||+0°|
|Ground Clearance (max load)||9.3”||17.2”||+7.9”|
All G-Class models feature permanent all-wheel drive which has been configured for maximum traction with a 50:50 torque distribution to the front and rear axles. With an advanced 4ETS electronic traction control system, a transfer case featuring three 100% locking differentials and an off-road low-range gear, the G-Class family offers unparalleled off-roading ability.
Low Range mode reduces the center differential gear ratio from 1:1 to 1:2 which allows for slow, more controllable off-road driving, including on steep descents. Low Range mode also helps to reduce strain on various drivetrain components.
By locking front, center and rear differentials in Low Range mode, each wheel will spin at the same RPM, thus directing torque to the wheels which are able to obtain traction. The G-Class is able to move forward even if only a single wheel is able to gain traction.
Featuring a 4.0L V8 biturbo engine, the G550 4x42 produces 416 hp and 450 lb-ft of torque for exemplary on-and-off-road performance. This newly developed engine, featuring twin turbochargers located between the cylinder banks, allows for a compact design that easily fits within the G-Class engine bay.
An aluminum-alloy crankcase reduces weight and ensures maximum strength and the cylinder walls feature NANOSLIDE® technology, which creates a surface twice as hard as a conventional cast-iron cylinder liner while simultaneously reducing friction and improving fuel economy.
Power is transferred to all four wheels by way of a 7G-TRONIC 7-speed automatic transmission. With no interruption in power between gear changes, short shift times and smooth gear changes, on-and-off-road driving is both more comfortable and efficient than was previously possible.
The exterior design of the G-Class has become an icon in the automotive design landscape, maintaining the original shape with only minor changes since it first became available for consumers to purchase in 1979*. While the G550 4x42 retains the classic G-Class shape, it boasts an even more intimidating appearance with its extraordinary ground clearance and wide track width.
Inside, the G550 4x42, occupants are treated to all the safety, entertainment and luxury features that have come to be expected of the Mercedes-Benz brand. An 8" COMAND® infotainment system, featuring satellite navigation, is equipped as standard.
The G550 4x42 will be available at US dealers by early 2017.
*Mercedes-Benz USA began official imports of the G-Class in Fall of 2002 for MY2003.