<%@LANGUAGE="VBSCRIPT"%> ROCKCRAWLER.com - Mercedes-Benz USA to Launch G-Class This Fall


NEW YORK - Mercedes-Benz USA announced today that it will launch the rugged yet luxurious G500 sport utility vehicle in the U.S. this fall. At a press conference preceding the New York International Auto Show (April 13-22 at the Jacob Javits Convention Center), company officials disclosed that the 2002-model G500 will be priced at $72,500. The V8-powered G-Class is an exclusive, limited-production vehicle, and about 1000 to 2000 annually will be sold in the U.S.

Off-Road Heritage
A compact SUV that's about four inches longer than the popular Mercedes-Benz M-Class sport utility, the G-Class is handcrafted at a special manufacturing facility in Graz, Austria. Called the Gelaendewagen in Europe, the G-Class is a no-compromise off-roader with a cliff-climbing, stump-pulling personality. It can climb grades up to 80 percent, and it's even stable on lateral slopes up to 54 percent!

Building on the success of the M-Class, the U.S. launch of the fashionable G500 addresses a strong market trend favoring high-end luxury SUVs. Its primary competition includes the Range Rover 4.6 HSE and Lexus LX470, while secondary competitors range from the V8 BMW X5 to the AM Hummer. G-Class buyers are likely to be people who can afford to buy a vehicle just for recreation but require that it be practical as well. They're also likely to be very self-confident and proud of their individuality,

With a simple, classic design - plus many technological innovations for safety and convenience borrowed from Mercedes cars - the go-anywhere G-Class balances its proven off-road credentials with a liberal dose of sumptuous on-road comfort.

Standard equipment on the gutsy G500 includes a full leather interior with burl walnut trim and a wood-leather steering wheel. The G500 also comes with power windows, 10-way electrically adjustable front seats with memory, front and rear heated seats, cruise control, central door locks, and automatic climate control.

Additionally, the new sport utility is equipped with a standard GPS navigation system featuring a large, integrated display on the center console. The display also controls a nine-speaker audio system (including a six-disc CD changer) as well as an optional integrated Motorola Timeport phone that can be operated hands-free through the in-dash display. The phone comes with an electronic voice recognition feature that allows both the phone and the audio system to be controlled by simple voice commands.

The exterior features body-color bumpers, rub strips, rocker panels and mirror housings as well as 18-inch alloy wheels and a stainless-steel spare tire cover mounted at the back.

G-WagonA "Bulletproof" Chassis
Proof of its military roots, the durable G-Class suspension makes use of super-strong rigid axles at the front and rear as well as longitudinal and transverse links with coil springs and gas shocks at all four corners. The G500 uses a power-assisted recirculating-ball steering system, four-wheel disc brakes with ABS, and 7.5 x 18-inch alloy wheels with 265/60R18 tires.

Sophisticated Power
The G500 sport utility is powered by the same 5.0-liter V8 as the S-Class sedan and SL roadster. This technologically advanced, all-aluminum engine develops about 300 horsepower while operating at remarkably clean emissions levels. This strong engine provides smooth, seamless power that belies the rocks-and-stumps heritage of the G-Class.

The G500 engine uses a twin-spark/three-valve-per-cylinder arrangement that produces excellent power with low emissions. Two intake valves are accompanied by one exhaust valve per cylinder, which makes room for two spark plugs per cylinder. A dual-path intake manifold boosts torque at low engine speeds for remarkable acceleration and quicker response at all engine speeds.

Full-Time Four-Wheel Drive With On-The-Fly Low Range
The G500 harnesses its power through an electronic five-speed adaptive automatic transmission with Touch Shift and a sturdy full-time four-wheel-drive system, which includes a transfer case with electronically controlled high and low ranges. Its fully synchronized low range can even be engaged on the fly, at speeds up to about 15 miles per hour.

G-WagonThe Only Vehicle With Three Differential Locks
The G500 distributes torque artfully through front, center and rear differentials and is the only production vehicle that features mechanical locks for all three differentials. To reduce wheelspin in extremely low-traction situations, the center and rear differential locks can be engaged anytime that the G-Class is off-pavement. In the unlikely event the vehicle gets stuck, the front differential can be engaged momentarily for maximum traction.

Diff Locks, Traction Control, and ESP, Too
While differential locks are much appreciated by experienced off-road enthusiasts, the G-Class also comes with four-wheel electronic traction control that will help less experienced drivers through most conditions.

Traction control is integrated with another Mercedes-Benz invention: ESP stability control. Standard on all new Mercedes-Benz models, ESP detects an impending spin or slide and applies the brakes on one wheel - front or rear, left or right - to keep the car on track!

Safety - A Mercedes-Benz Core Value
The safety of Mercedes-Benz vehicles is most meaningful in one way - real life. All new developments are put into production based on careful analysis of actual traffic conditions and accident histories. The technical safety aspects of the G-Class don't just meet government standards, but also reflect in-house Mercedes-Benz accident research. Based on Mercedes-Benz' own stringent guidelines, the G-Class is designed for the greatest possible impact safety and features a tough body-on-frame design with a torsionally rigid chassis.

Two-stage front airbags for driver and passenger deploy in two levels, depending on the severity of impact. In most collisions, only one chamber of the generator is deployed, so the bag is not filled as fully or as quickly as it is in a severe front impact. In a more serious accident, the second chamber is deployed 5 to 15 milliseconds later.

Standard ABS anti-lock brakes provide directional control during emergency braking, while Mercedes-Benz Brake Assist automatically ensures full-power braking in panic stops. In addition, Electronic Brake Force Distribution ensures stability when braking on curves.

Tele Aid - Much More Than Emergency Calling
Mercedes-Benz brought a new dimension to automotive safety with the 1999 debut of its Tele Aid system, which provides both convenience and emergency services at the touch of a button through a special cellular connection. For emergency help, there's an "SOS" button above the rear-view mirror that immediately establishes voice contact with response specialists who can dispatch local police or other emergency services. This also transmits precise location (through GPS tracking), car model and color to help emergency services locate the car quickly.

G-WagonIf a collision deploys any airbag, Tele Aid automatically establishes contact. The onboard transmitter is crash-secure and has access to redundant antennae. Mercedes-Benz was first to make emergency calling equipment like this standard.

The two non-emergency uses of Tele Aid are accessed from inside the center console. One button marked with a wrench puts the client in direct contact with Mercedes-Benz Roadside Assistance. To answer any questions about the car, another button marked "i" connects users with the Mercedes-Benz Client Assistance Center.
Tele Aid eliminates the need to juggle a handset, dial a phone number, use a cellular access code or locate street names during an emergency. Moreover, the standard Tele Aid system does not require a cellular phone or service - it operates on its own cellular system.
An additional benefit of Tele Aid is vehicle theft tracking, which can actually help authorities locate the car once it's reported stolen. Last year, Tele Aid was enhanced with a new remote diagnosis feature, as well as emergency door unlocking and theft alarm notification.

Web-Based Info Services
Any Mercedes owner with a Tele Aid equipped vehicle and the in-dash COMAND display can now subscribe to new web-based Info Services. Clients begin by using a home or office PC to customize personal preferences on their own web page (part of the Mercedes-Benz USA website at www.mbusa.com). Then, any time they push a button beside the color LCD display, their selected stock quotes, news topics, sports and weather are downloaded from CNN Interactive and displayed on the screen. Calendar reminders are also possible through the system.

Mercedes-Benz USA is responsible for the sales, marketing and service of Mercedes-Benz cars and light trucks in the U.S. Headquartered in Montvale, New Jersey, MBUSA employs approximately 1,500 people in 20 locations across the U.S. Through a nationwide network of over 300 retailers, Mercedes-Benz USA sold 205,614 vehicles in the U.S. during 2000, setting the highest sales volume ever in its history.