In autumn 2000, Mercedes‑Benz gave the G-Class 463 series a comprehensive facelift. This was a move that spoke volumes about the enduring popularity of the cross-country vehicle. It was over 21 years since the basic version had been introduced, and the 463 series G-Class had been around on the market for over ten years. The updated G-Class made its debut at the Paris Motor Show in September 2000 with a new interior design, even more copious standard equipment and cutting-edge technical innovations. The key change to the model range was the addition of the new G 400 CDI, which was fitted with the same 184 kW (250 hp) common-rail V8 diesel engine as the S‑Class. This model replaced the familiar G 300 TURBODIESEL.
In terms of external appearance and retail price the G 400 CDI was equivalent to the G 500, which had until this point been the exclusive top model in this model series. Silver-painted 18-inch light-alloy wheels with high-sheen hub caps, chromed cross ribs in the radiator grille and bumpers in the body colour gave the two V8 models a particularly elegant look.
The focus of the facelift was on further optimising comfort on long journeys and enhancing functionality. The interior of the G-Class now featured modified door panelling, a new-design dashboard with more contemporary controls, a clearly laid out instrument cluster and a practical centre console, which provided an armrest and a stowage compartment between the front seats. To ensure the perfect on-board climate, the interior featured an all-new, sensor-controlled automatic climate control system with separate temperature adjustment for driver and front passenger sides, adjustable air vents in the rear and a powerful dust/pollen filter.
For even more comfort, there were new-design front seats with electric fore-and-aft and height adjustment and an electrically adjustable steering column. A standard-fit memory button stored the individual seat and steering wheel positions. As soon as the driver removed the electronic ignition key, the steering wheel automatically moved upwards out of the way to make getting out of the vehicle easier. The steering wheel remained in this position until the driver was seated again.
Sensors in the facelifted G-Class also controlled the windscreen wipers, exterior lights and interior mirror. The rain sensor, which varied the wiper frequency according to the intensity of the rain, and the light sensor on the front windscreen, which ensured that the headlamps and tail lights came on automatically in the dark, were also part of the standard equipment, as was the automatically dimming interior mirror.
The COMAND control and display system, which had first been presented in the S-Class in autumn 1998, combining car radio, CD player, navigation system, TV receiver and other functions in one unit, was also available for the facelifted G-Class. In the G 400 CDI and G 500 V8 models the multifunction system was fitted as standard. Mercedes-Benz customers were also able to use cutting-edge telematics services in the G-Class such as dynamic route guidance based on the latest traffic information, the TELEAID automatic emergency call system and the TELEDIAGNOSIS system.
In conjunction with TELEAID, Mercedes-Benz also equipped the G-Class on request with the innovative LINGUATRONIC voice control system for the first time, allowing voice control of the car phone and audio devices. A few words from the driver were all that was needed to order the system to change radio station, dial a phone number or switch from CD to navigation mode.
In June 2001 the Mercedes-Benz G 400 CDI was praised by the German publication "Off Road" as the "pinnacle of all-wheel vehicle manufacturing" and awarded the title "Off-roader of the year 2001".
At the International Motor Show (IAA) in Frankfurt/Main in September 2001 Mercedes-Benz again presented an extended and enhanced G-Class model range, which now included a new diesel model, the G 270 CDI. This model was fitted with the high-torque 2.7-litre five-cylinder engine that Mercedes-Benz also offered in the C-Class, E-Class and M-Class. In the G 270 CDI the common-rail direct-injection engine delivered an output of 115 kW (156 hp) and maximum torque of 400 newton metres from just 1800 rpm. These impressive output and torque figures were due primarily to the VNT (Variable Nozzle Turbine) turbocharger featuring vanes that could be adjusted according to the engine operating parameters. The G 270 CDI, launched on the market at the beginning of 2002, was available as a Station Wagon with a short or long wheelbase. There was no Cabriolet variant.
Other changes involved extending the standard equipment: from September 2001 all G-Class models were fitted as standard with the Electronic Stability Program (ESP®) and Brake Assist (BAS). As such, the cross-country vehicle featured the best and most powerful driving safety systems available at the time.
From September 2001 the high-performance all-wheel-drive system in the G-Class was also perfected with addition, as standard, of the 4ETS Electronic Traction Support system. This dynamic handling control system, first used in the Mercedes-Benz M-Class, improved roadholding when pulling away and accelerating on slippery surfaces, for example in the wet or on ice. The system, which was active at up to 60 km/h, used the wheel sensors of the standard anti-lock braking system (ABS): if these sensors indicated that one or more wheels had begun to spin, they were automatically braked and power was diverted to the wheel(s) with better grip. For driving in difficult terrain, the G-Class still featured three differential locks. These were easy to select at the touch of a button and ensured that the same torque was available at each wheel.
All of this meant that, from autumn 2001, the G-Class featured a unique combination of high-performance dynamic handling and all-wheel-drive systems. The automatic ESP® and 4ETS ensured maximum traction and driving stability on the road or on rough terrain, while the selectable 100 percent locks continued to demonstrate their strengths on difficult off-road stretches.
As genuine classics, the G-Class cross-country vehicles had for years enjoyed a firmly established place in the Mercedes-Benz model range; even after the successful market launch of the M-Class they continued to find numerous fans around the world. 2001 even saw an increase of over 60 percent in the sales figures. This development was primarily due to the fact that the G-Class became available in the USA in October 2001 and instantly enjoyed overwhelming success there.
The year 2003 once more underlined the role of the G-Class as a classic with future potential: the series 463 was again voted "Off-roader of the year" by readers of "Off Road", while readers of the magazine "Motor Klassik" magazine chose the G-Class as a "Classic of the future" .
The model range was also extended in 2003, with the addition of the G 55 AMG as the new top-of-the-range model. Its eight-cylinder engine had an output of 260 kW (354 hp) and the top speed was electronically limited at 210 km/h.
In 2004, the monolithic classic from Mercedes-Benz celebrated a special anniversary: the G-Class was 25 years old. A special "Limited Edition" model was created for the German market to mark the occasion, and an identical "Classic 25" model for the world market. In addition, the G 55 AMG KOMPRESSOR (350 kW/476 hp) was introduced, and all models with a long wheelbase were fitted with windowbags. The V8 petrol engines now complied with the Euro 4 standard, and the chassis and suspension set-up of the more powerful models was revised and the steering gear improved. Other changes were designed to enhance safety. For example, a three-point seat belt was added in the centre rear of the long-wheelbase Station Wagon. The short-wheelbase Station Wagon and the Cabriolet were now offered as four-seater models, without the centre lap belt on the rear bench.
In 2005, after 26 years of production, an important decision was taken by Mercedes-Benz: the G-Class would remain part of the range. Before this vote of confidence in the cross-country vehicles was finally awarded, the company carefully deliberated whether and how it could stay true to the unique vehicle in the wake of changes to registration conditions, for example with regard to pedestrian protection and exhaust emissions. The decision was significantly helped by the fact that the G-Class continued to enjoy tremendous popularity worldwide. Since 1979, over 185,000 vehicles had been produced in Graz.
In 2006 the G-Class underwent further changes to make it fit for the future. The new G 320 CDI was introduced. This new model was fitted as standard with a cutting-edge diesel engine (165 kW/224 hp) and diesel particulate filter and complied with the stringent emission limits laid down in the EU4 standard. The engine was combined with the 7G-TRONIC seven-speed automatic transmission. The G 320 CDI replaced the G 270 CDI and G 400 CDI models. Its standard equipment included bi-xenon headlamps and fog lamps with a cornering light function. The four-door Station Wagon had an ISOFIX child seat attachment point in the second seat row. Other new additions included scratch-resistant nano-particle paint finishes in calcite white, periclase green metallic and teallite blue metallic. The robust "ARTICO" interior package was available on request. Here the seats and door panels were upholstered in a particularly hardwearing yet breathable and skin-friendly man-made leather and the floor was covered in robust, easy-care plastic.
In July 2006 the G 55 AMG was given an injection of power. Its high-performance engine now delivered 368 kW (500 hp) with peak torque of 700 newton metres. This ensured extraordinary performance figures: the cross-country vehicle accelerated from 0 to 100 km/h in 5.5 seconds and its top speed was electronically limited at 210 km/h.
In spring 2007, the G-Class underwent another facelift. In the interior a new instrument cluster with four chrome-ringed analogue dials created a fresh feel. Another element with a new design was the four-spoke multifunction steering wheel, trimmed in leather as standard in the G 320 CDI, and in a wood/leather version in the G 500 and G 55 AMG. All three models had a modified centre console with new controls and switches for the air conditioning and comfort functions. This not only upgraded the appearance of the cockpit but enhanced operating safety too. The G 500 and G 55 AMG were fitted as standard with the COMAND APS control and display unit, which could be ordered as an optional extra for the G 320 CDI. Various new optional extras were introduced in conjunction with the facelift, including a reversing camera and a tyre pressure monitoring system. From the outside the latest generation of the G-Class could be recognised by its LED-look tail lights.
In December 2007 Mercedes-Benz delivered a special version of the G-Class to the Vatican. The new Popemobile was based on the G 500. The head of the Roman Catholic Church had requested an open-top presentation vehicle for use in fine weather. It was equipped with a fold-down windscreen and grab handles and, like previous vehicles, painted in the Vatican's traditional mystic white. His Holiness entered the white interior via red-trimmed steps at the rear and remained standing on board in order to be visible to his followers.
In May 2008, Mercedes-Benz announced a further update for the G-Class. The G 500 was now available with the new M 273 V8 engine which, with a displacement of 5.5 litres, produced 285 kW (388 hp) and developed torque of 530 newton metres. The latest model generation came with the latest telematics technology: a Bluetooth hands-free system for the mobile phone was fitted as standard. A Media Interface was available on request, allowing an external music player to be connected to the on-board electronics and the off-roader's control system. In terms of outward appearance, the latest G-Class could be recognised by the modified radiator grille with three louvres. The G 500 also featured new-design 18-inch light-alloy wheels. The updated G 55 AMG which followed in June 2008 also featured the new radiator grille, but this model was fitted with new AMG-design 19-inch light-alloy wheels. Its high-performance engine now developed 373 kW (507 hp). Another new feature in the G 55 AMG was the ESP® control unit which recognised dynamic driving manoeuvres more precisely than previously, optimising the vehicle's stability. The most powerful G-Class model now also featured Hill-Start Assist.
In 2008, the biggest market for the G-Class was Germany, with a 30 percent share of overall sales. This was followed by the USA with around 20 percent. The overall diesel share was around 40 percent. In the USA only the long-wheelbase Station Wagon was available - in the form of the G 500 and G 55 AMG and later the G 55 AMG KOMPRESSOR. In total 200,000 G-Class models had been delivered to customers around the world since the market launch.
The G-Guard, based on the long-wheelbase G 500 Station Wagon, continued to be an important part of the model range. This G-Class, armoured all round and certified to ballistic standard VR6 or VR7, offered protection against small arms, long-barrelled firearms and explosions of a defined magnitude.
In parallel to the civilian variants of the G-Class there continued to be special-purpose versions. 2009, for example, saw first deliveries of a 6x6 version (all-wheel drive with three axles) for the Australian military, which had been rebuilt and adapted to special payload requirements. Like all models of the G-Class, this variant was manufactured in Graz too. The order for 600 units of the 6x6 model was combined with an order for 600 G-Class models with 4x4 drive. Mercedes-Benz not only delivered the vehicles to Australia but was also appointed to service the vehicles for a period of 15 years.
In 2009, Mercedes-Benz celebrated the 30th anniversary of the G-Class with two special models, the G-Class EDITION30 and the G-Class EDITION30.PUR, based on the G 280 CDI from model series 461. In the EDITION30 special model, based on model series G 463, Mercedes-Benz underlined the possibilities of the G-Class in terms of comfort and prestige. From the outside this long-wheelbase G 500 Station Wagon could be distinguished by its designo platinum black paintwork, its special-design light-alloy wheels and the EDITION30 lettering on the wings. Inside the G 500 featured designo chablis leather and designo anthracite poplar wood trim. Both special models were available to order from mid February 2009.
Congratulations on the anniversary came from the all-wheel-drive vehicle's large community of fans: readers of the off-road magazine ŘWheel Fun" chose the G-Class as their "Superstar 2009" in the luxury category, and readers of "Motor Klassik" voted the G-Class "Classic of the future" for the third time, having previously done so in 2003 and 2007.
In mid 2009, Mercedes‑Benz refined the equipment for model series 463 with a focus on new seats. The ergonomically optimised front seats offered enhanced comfort and lateral support, helping to boost driver fitness safety. The rear bench seat was also modernised and adapted to match the design of the driver and front passenger seats. Customer were able to choose between black or grey fabric upholstery and leather appointments in black, grey or chestnut. On-board comfort was further enhanced by modifications to the optional multicontour and climatised seats. New features included particularly fine designo leather upholstery in classic red or black and designo black piano lacquer trim. The designo labrador blue pearl stone trim, available from the beginning of 2010, was a further highlight.
Standard features now included an AUX-IN socket in the glove compartment and the familiar design ignition key. Optional comfort-enhancing features included indirect ambient interior lighting, a leather-trim dashboard, a comprehensive chrome package and a Media Interface for connecting iPod, USB or AUX devices.
At the Dubai International Motor Show in December 2009, Mercedes-Benz presented the G 55 AMG KOMPRESSOR "Edition 79" special model, exclusively designed for markets in the Middle East. The vehicle was designed to commemorate the launch of the G-Class in 1979. The 373 kW (507 hp) G 55 AMG KOMPRESSOR was an off-road icon with a particularly large fan base in the Gulf region - which was the most lucrative market for the AMG top-of-the-range model. The "Edition 79", available in a limited edition of 79 models, exerted a special appeal with its combination of unique equipment details. These included designo magno allanite grey paintwork, a front brush guard, carbon-look side trim strips, 19‑i nch AMG light-alloy wheels with a titanium finish, chromed protective grilles for the front indicators and an underguard. Inside, the special model featured designo leather seats in black/sand, high-quality trim parts in genuine carbon fibre and a ŕ out of 79" edition logo, positioned in front of the selector lever.
Cutting-edge BlueTEC technology, designed to reduce the emissions of diesel vehicles, was first offered in the G-Class in 2010. The G 350 BlueTEC model worked with AdBlue®, an aqueous urea solution which was injected into the exhaust gas stream. This releases ammonia, which converts up to 80 percent of the nitrogen oxides into harmless nitrogen and water by a process of reduction in the downstream SCR catalytic converter. Because the G-Class was often used in remote areas of the world - one of its main purposes - the engineers simplified matters by integrating the AdBlue® filler cap in the vehicle's outside tank recess. One full tank of AdBlue® would last for around 12,000 kilometres.
The V6 diesel engine in the G 350 BlueTEC developed an output of 155 kW (210 hp) at 3400 rpm and torque of -540 newton metres between 1600 and 2400 rpm. This model therefore produced substantially fewer emissions than its predecessor, the G 350 CDI - undercutting the limits of the EU5 standard - yet still delivered comparable performance. NOx emissions were around 50 percent lower than those of the previous model.