Amid news of the impending demise of diesel vehicles in Europe, Mercedes-Benz seems to be bucking the trend.
Multiple reports suggest the German carmaker is developing a diesel variant of its popular G-Class. The latest version of the luxury SUV, the G500, was unveiled in Detroit last January, but only with a gas engine. The diesel-powered version will reportedly launch in December, for delivery by March 2019.
With regards to the powerplant, it will most likely be a souped-up version of the OM 656 engine, which launched with the 2017 S-Class facelift before being rolled out to the rest of the Benz lineup. The beefy six-cylinder plant can churn out up to 340hp while delivering up to 516 lb-ft of torque. The engine combines a stepped-bowl combustion process and near-engine exhaust treatment that allows it to comply with Europe’s increasingly strict emissions standards.
The G-class itself just started production a few days ago at the Magna Steyr factory in Austria. The sprawling plant has been the home of the G-Class for nearly 40 years, since the first Geländewagen (short for “cross-country vehicle”) rolled off the line in 1979.
Favored by deep-pocketed buyers like Arab oil sheiks and Russian oligarchs, the G-wagen is more than just a status symbol. The offroad brute was originally conceived as a military vehicle by the Shah of Iran, who was a significant Benz stockholder, and is actually used by several state militaries worldwide. The boxy SUV is particularly popular in Russia, where it features prominently in Putin’s motorcade as well as being the ride of choice for the successor to the KGB.