The Mercedes-Benz G-Class, sometimes called G-Wagen (short for Geländewagen, “cross country vehicle”), is a mid-size four-wheel drive luxury SUV manufactured by Magna Steyr (formerly Steyr-Daimler-Puch) in Austria and sold by Mercedes-Benz. In certain markets, it has been sold under the Puch name as Puch G.
The G-Wagen is characterised by its boxy styling and body-on-frame construction. It uses three fully locking differentials, one of the few vehicles to have such a feature.
Despite the introduction of an intended replacement, the unibody SUV Mercedes-Benz GL-Class in 2006, the G-Class is still in production and is one of the longest produced vehicles in Daimler’s history, with a span of 40 years. Only the Unimog surpasses it.
The G-class was developed as a military vehicle from a suggestion by the Emperor of Iran (at the time a significant Mercedes shareholder) to Mercedes and offered as a civilian version in 1979. In this role it is sometimes referred to as the “Wolf”. The Peugeot P4 was a variant made under licence in France with a Peugeot engine. The first military in the world to use it was the Argentine Army (Ejército Argentino) beginning in 1981 with the military model 461.
The chassis was significantly revised for 1990, and resulted in the new 463 G-Class. Equipped with anti-lock brakes, full-time 4WD and a trio of electric locking differentials. The interior was totally upgraded, finished with wooden accents and optional leather upholstery. The 463 features a larger choice of engines, with the first V8-powered model, the luxury 500 GE, appearing for a limited two-year production run in 1993. The 500 GE used the M117 engine, a four-speed automatic transmission, and, notably for a G-Wagen, only came with two locking differentials. The steering wheel was revised for the 1993 model year. All 463 G-Wagens began using Mercedes-Benz’s new letter-first naming scheme in 1994, as well as another major steering wheel revision which included driver airbags.