Published on September 21st, 2023 | by Subhash Nair0
The Mercedes-Benz GLB Concept Was Almost the Baby g-Wagon
Earlier this month, Mercedes-Benz officially announced plans to develop a ‘baby’ G-Class, a.k.a. the g-Wagon. Here are my personal thoughts on the matter.
Why Is There A Need For A Baby G?
The company probably looked at the success of the new Land Rover Defender, the new Ford Bronco and the new Suzuki Jimny and realised there was a slice of the pie available for them too. The G-Class is often put on a pedestal within the Mercedes-Benz range and treated like it exists independent of the brand’s conventions.
It only got two major generational changes in its 43 year lifespan and was only marketed to the public in the early 1990s. Its styling has never been drastically altered and its mystique has been preserved throughout the decades as it has been marketed as an exclusive model.
In fact, the new Langkawi Asbenz showroom sells the G63 alongside the company’s most expensive models. Offering a ‘Baby G’ wagon does make sense as it would distill the core experience for a less affluent audience.
The Baby G That Could Have Been
When I first saw photos of the GLB Concept, I felt it looked more like a ‘Baby G’ than anything else in the Mercedes-Benz ‘GL’ family. The GLA, GLC, GLE and GLS all reflected the sporty elegance of their sedan counterparts.
The GLB Concept on the other hand was boxy and featured genuine off-road appointments like all-terrain tyres, functional roof rails, and roof-mounted flood lights. It even had an interior in upholstered in rugged nubuck leather with thick stitching, almost like it belonged on a pair of cowboy boots.
Unfortunately, these off-road elements of the GLB Concept were dropped in the final production version. The production GLB still retained the overall shape, but it too was taken in a more elegant and sporty direction.
A Baby g To Protect The G Wagon’s Legacy
Clearly the chance to introduce a Baby g on the MFA2 platform was ditched in favour of trying something without a legacy to worry about. We now have a rather successful GLB and electric EQB – both all-new nameplates for the Benz brand. As happy as customers are with these two crossovers, they’re not the last word on off-road capability.
Mercedes-Benz may feel compelled to introduce a shortened ladder chassis or a toughened unibody chassis with a longitudinally mounted powertrain to directly compete against the upcoming Land Cruiser 250 model. This would allow the brand to offer something rugged and capable that’s rooted in the G-Wagon’s true legacy as a utilitarian, military machine with just enough padding and tech to be worthy of the three-pointed star.
While some, like the Automotive rendering wiz Theo Chin, feel like the Baby g will be a three-doored vehicle in the vein of the Jimny, I feel like Mercedes-Benz will lean towards a 5-door just for a wider customer base. That being said, there is certainly a precedent for 3-door or even 2-door G-Wagons.
A Chance To Elevate the G Wagon Further
By introducing a Baby-G for a wider audience, Mercedes-Benz will have an opportunity to do for the G Wagon what Land Rover did for the Range Rover – to keep pushing the exclusivity factor up and to possibly phase out lower-margin versions of this iconic model.
After all, the new Range Rover lineup does look like a million bucks where the G-Wagon looks like it’s from a different century. When electrification comes for the G-Wagon, aerodynamics will start to matter more and more, and then the boxy looks might have to be evolved. With a Baby-G in place, Mercedes-Benz might have a freer hand to try new and more daring things with the G-Wagon to keep its price and appeal up.