Merc’s iconic G-class undergoes its biggest changes yet, focusing on modernisation without messing with the aesthetics.

It may not look it, but the new 2018 Mercedes G-class has undergone its biggest suite of changes since it was first put into production in 1979.

Featuring a new engine, interior and redesigned chassis components, Mercedes has tread that fine line between modernising a classic and not messing too much with a design that has made it such a hit with buyers. The G-class enjoyed its highest sales to date in the UK last year, 65 per cent of which were the range-topping AMG G 63.

The new model’s biggest changes are under the skin, the new G-class introducing modern components like an independent front axle and rack and pinion steering for the first time. Off-road ability has remained a top priority, so the previous car’s ladder chassis, three locking differentials and low-range transmission remain, but the new components aim to dramatically improve on-road dynamics, previously a significant compromise when compared to modern SUV rivals.

> Click here for our find out more on the 2018 Range Rover

The new G shares a similar body shell to the outgoing car, but it’s now 53mm longer and 121mm wider. Thanks to added use of high-strength steel and aluminium weight is down by 170kg over the previous model too. Classic design elements like exposed hinges and the top-mounted front indicators have also been maintained, so as not to compromise the current aesthetic. The lighting units front and back have been swapped for new LED versions, the front with circular coronas forming the G-class’s new lighting signature. The bumpers have also been re-profiled, again focusing on maintaining steep approach and departure angles so not to inhibit off-road ability, although the forthcoming AMG model will no doubt toughen up the visuals when it eventually arrives.

Inside, Mercedes has made far more significant changes, aligning the G-class with other flagship Mercedes products like the E-class and S-class. The new dash is dominated by Merc’s usual pairing of 12.3-inch screens sat behind a single glass pane. Below this are the G’s classic set of differential lock controls and HVAC and infotainment controls borrowed from the E-class. Interior accommodation has also improved thanks to the larger body, a common complaint with the old car.

> Click here for our review of the current Mercedes-AMG G63

The only engine to have been specified at this point is a 4-litre bi-turbo V8 petrol powering the G 500. Producing 310kW and 610Nm of torque, this power unit is obviously aimed at the American and Middle Eastern markets, but we expect more engine options, including an AMG version, to be released in time.