Mercedes 2018 G-Class is a smart tech-filled brute of an SUV

Mercedes’ G-Class boxy brute of an SUV is getting a tech makeover for 2018, including the inclusion of an Alexa-like virtual assistant.

Revealed at the Detroit Motor Show, the 2018 G-Class, affectionately referred to as the G-Wagen, looks a lot like older models of the all-terrain machine. But peek into the interior and you’ll find a much more tech-heavy setup.

Like the 2018 A-Class and other more common Merc models, the new G-Class has a TFT digital dashboard and infotainment display behind one pane of glass and contained in one unit, giving in a very futuristic look.

Surrounding the dual screen unit are a host of switches and dials that look to have the high-quality build that Mercedes is known for.

But the most interesting part for tech fans in the use of Mercedes’ new MBUX smart multimedia system, which is built around Nvidia’s gutsy graphics card technology, to create a smooth, slick and detailed user interface that uses machine learning to provide it with smart features.

These smarts come in the form of learning a user’s preferences and serving them up through a suggestions button; if a driver swaps to another MBUX-equipped Merc, the preferences can follow them by linking to a dedicated profile.

With MBUX comes a smart voice controlled assistant which reacts to “Hey Mercedes” in a similar vein to Apple’s Siri reacting to “Hey Siri”.

Through the use of natural language processing, the assistant can workout the context of commands and take actions upon them; for example, to the phrases “I’m too hot”, the assistant could switch in the air-con to cool the cabin rather than rely on an exact command to do so.

By making use of Nvidia’s deep learning technology and cloud connectivity, the MBUX and the assistant are set to get smarter over time, much like other virtual assistants found in flagship smartphones.

When used in the new G-Class the MBUX fits Merc’s brief of offering luxury and easy access to entertainment and information without compromising the utilitarian feel and look the G-Wagen built its reputation upon.

For people not fussed on swathes of in-car tech, the G-Class can be specced with an analogue instrument panel, though that would mean losing out on Mercedes’ impressive tech engineering.

Below the bonnet, the G-Class is a well-tweaked take on its predecessor. It now makes use of a new aluminium body structure to save weight, has five driving modes including a ‘eco’ setting, has new double-wishbone suspension, a nine-speed automatic transmission,  and a better places rear-view camera.

The improvements all promise to add up to a more agile G-Class with better ride comfort.

The entry-level G-Class is slated for a June release in Europe and will cost €107,040, around £95,000 though no UK specifications or pricing have been revealed.

But the real model to get excited would be the 2018 G-Class G63 model, which Mercedes’ hasn’t announced but would be a logical addition when compared to the current G-Class lineup.  

According to Autocar such a G-Class will sport a 4.0-litre V8 petrol engine developed by Mercedes’ AMG performance arm. The beefy engine would kick out 603bhp and 627lb ft of torque, a decent hike in power over its predecessor which had a larger 5.5-litre turbocharged V8.

When it makes its debut in August, it’s set to cost around £140,000 making it a purchase for off-road fans with seriously deep-pockets.

Related: CES 2018 highlights

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