Two big and larger than life things are born in Graz Austria. One is Arnold Schwarzenegger, the other is the Mercedes Benz G-Class (formerly known as the G-Wagon).
Graz Austria. G is short for Geländewagen, which means cross country vehicle. Designed in the early ‘70s, the first G-Wagon was produced by Mercedes Benz in 1979. Hand built in the same location today, the “G” has been updated and modernized, but remains essentially unchanged in body style. There are civilian models, commercial models and military models, but they all come from the same manufacturing plant. Unlike the fully automated manufacturing of mass produced vehicles, I toured the totally modernized plant in Graz, Austria and marveled at the handmade process of the entire construction.
Men and women spend an average of 180 hours to build each one of these unique vehicles with the finest skills, and materials. Each finished civilian truck is then test driven for up to 50 KM for a full and complete quality control evaluation. Once completed, let’s just say they are perfect. At the top of the line are the AMG versions, a G63 with a big 5.5 liter, twin turbo V8 putting out 537 HP and 561 ft-lbs of torque, and the exclusive and even rarer G65, with a massive 6 liter, twin turbo V12 producing a ground tearing 604 HP and 738 ft-lbs of torque. Both of these engines are hand-built in Germany at AMG engine facilities, each engine built from start to finish by one AMG specialist, whose name is inscribed on the top of the engine.
“The G65 can climb a 100% grade without any difficulty whatsoever!”
After a comprehensive tour of the factory, we had a demonstration of the Mercedes Benz G’s ability on a fantastic metal demonstration track, that looked more like a roller coaster from a theme park. Here the G-Wagon demonstrates its 3-way selectable locking differentials. The G has two solid axles that lock along with the center differential (transfer case). This allows the vehicle, along with either the diesel or gas powered engines, to move forward or back with only one of 4 wheels having traction, and can climb a 100% grade without any difficulty whatsoever.
Going beyond the demonstration rack, as I call it, Mercedes professional drivers accompanied us to their real world proving grounds in the Alps, a place called Schockl Mountain. In the real world of off-road driving, this beast can go virtually anywhere. One wheel in the air, two wheels in the air, or even just one wheel with something to grip, this truck powers effortlessly through levitra genérico india. As amazing and tough as the outside performance was, inside I has wrapped in supple hand chosen and stitched seats, leather wrapped steering wheel and fully up to date electronics and entertainment systems. In true MB ergonomic design, the G-Class controls are virtually identical to all other Mercedes cars and SUV’s. Sitting a little taller inside the cabin, and closer to the front, visibility in all directions is excellent. With safety at the forefront, this nimble off-road vehicle is also an unsuspected pavement beast. Whether on the autobahn, or at a stop light, the power and thundering engine note of either the twin turbo V8 or V12 takes many sports cars and exotics by total surprise. Picture the two seat sports car (insert your favorite brand here) being blown away by a 0-100 Km/h hulking 4MATIC off road machine in 5.1 seconds. Or being passed by one at 230 Km/h on your favorite Autobahn. Impressive considering this utility wagon has the aerodynamics of an apartment building, and can tow a fairly large trailer.
“…it gives the driver and passengers the distinct feeling that you could actually climb the outside of an office tower and park on the roof.”
Now in the hands of most owners, these G’s rarely go off-road, and rarely race. They are properly detailed and garage kept, even though they are capable of the Paris-Decar* rally. While the Germans love to boast about the handbuilt, twin turbo, hand built AMG engine putting out an earth shaking, 1000 Newton Meters of torque ( if that sounds impressive, it is meant to be), it gives the driver and passengers the distinct feeling that you could actually climb the outside of an office tower and park on the roof. I dare say, nothing else gives you that confidence, or gut wrenching, powerful feeling. It is truly excessive, and Amazing!!
If the world suddenly had an abrupt change (Aliens attack, global war, cataclysmic weather changes, all seen in the movies), this is the one vehicle I would absolutely want in my garage to live out the rest of my days, akin to Mad Max. If you know the movies, you know superchargers chew up blower belts, but this twin turbo, monster machine, would probably be the last thing running. Ok, I’m having some fun and not really thinking about world ending scenarios. But if I was…..
* 1983 Dakar Rally also known as the 1983 Paris–Dakar Rally was the 5th running of the Dakar Rally event. The course crossed the Ténéré desert for the first time. A sandstorm led to 40 competitors becoming lost. Mercedes won the car category with a 280 G Wagon. Ref. Wikipedia