Mercedes is preparing to introduce an all-new G-Class after 38 years in production and we’re starting to learn how close the model came to extinction.
In an interview with Automotive News, Mercedes G-Class boss Gunnar Guethenke confirmed the M-Class was originally designed to replace the model when it was launched in 1997. However, “the customer base of the G-class was so loyal and continued to support the vehicle that it never came to this point.”
Despite never being sold in the United States, the G-Class had a strong following and was attracting plenty of interest. This pushed the company to bring the model stateside in 2002.
The G-Class never sold in huge numbers but the company steadily moved around 1,000 units annually. More recently, there has been a spike in interest as the company sold 3,950 G-Class models in the United States last year.
The company is hoping to continue that trend with the redesigned model which is expected to have an independent front suspension and a turbocharged six-cylinder engine. Rumors also suggest the model will be about 4 inches (10.1 cm) wider than its predecessor to create a more comfortable cabin.
Despite the emphasis on comfort, Guethenke confirmed the new G-Class will remain as rugged and capable as its predecessor. As he explained, there’s “three backbones for our off-road capabilities” and these include a body-on-frame chassis, locking differentials, and low-range gearing.