For the better part of three decades Mercedes Gelaendewagen’s have held their own as both capable 4-wheel drive people-movers and as dependable German military vehicles. Since it’s inception in 1979, the “Wolf” or G-Wagen as it is also called, has weathered all internal attempts to shift loyal (and wealthy) owners to other, more luxurious Mercedes models. Even though it is more refined, the 2009 Mercedes G 55 AMG model still remains remarkably similar to the original. Why mess with a good thing?
Although most have probably only seen a G-Wagen puttering about in less than rugged environments, the G-Wagen is built to withstand rigorous demands that made it a favorite of the German military on par with Hummer. Although Mercedes is dogmatic about continually upgrading their vehicles whenever possible, with the exception of an altered grill and LED tailights, that philosophy does not extend to the box-shaped exterior of the G 55, which is essentially the same from previous versions.
In addition to the new grill design with three, larger horizontal bars with chrome inserts and new 19 inch AMG light alloy wheels, other AMG options include wide fenders, body colored bumpers, brushed-aluminum trim set, AMD sports exhaust system with chrome tailpipes and stainless steel running boards. Inside, the G gets a variety of upgraded electronics, entertainment gadgets and climate-controlled leather upholstery.
Most important to true G-Wagen and AMG fans is the powerplant of this workhorse. The supercharged 5.5L V8 engine is increased from the previous G by 7 horses from 500 to 507 horsepower, while torque remains at 516 pound-feet. Capable of an electronically limited top speed of 130 mph, the prinicipals of aerodynamics also do not prevent the G 55 from impressive acceleration stats. Suprisingly, the G 55 achieves 62 MPH in a very quick 5.5 seconds!
Other components include an Electronic Stability Program (ESP®), that allow more precise recognition of dynamic driving situations and provide vehicle stability. The G 55 AMG also comes with a hill-start assist. A sensor is engaged whenever the driver comes to a halt on an ascending gradient. The system instantly records the braking pressure applied and maintains this for a short instant, giving drivers sufficient time to move from the brake to the accelerator pedal without the vehicle rolling backward. The big advantage of this technology is that in most cases it eliminates the need to use the parking brake.
An inherently expensive vehicle already, the AMG pushes the price of this G-Wagen up to near the $200,000 range and is only available in a five door configution. The way they are built; however, means that one will last an entire lifetime.