Fun Squared: Mercedes G550 SUV
The G550 4×4² is an off-roader that stands 2.25 meters tall and 2.1 meters wide and it has a ground clearance greater than the average toddler.
It seems only days ago that we brought you news of the Mercedes G350 d but we have another very impressive G-Wagen to show you, the G550 SUV. Seriously, this monster of a car doesn’t even look like a car and it is most affectionately known as a ‘wagon’ believe it or not. Capitalizing on the massive (pardon the pun) appeal of the SUV in the United States, the G550 4×4² is coming stateside. Briefly, the G550 4×4² is an off-roader that stands 2.25 meters tall and 2.1 meters wide and, in the eloquent words of the AFP, it has a ground clearance greater than the average toddler.
When it goes on sale in early 2017 don’t expect to get much change from $250,000 but do expect to get noticed, no matter where the road leads. The car’s gargantuan proportions are certain to attract attention but they’re the result of fitting it with portal axles.
On a normal car and even on a normal SUV, the axles – front and rear – are perfectly in line with the centers of the wheels they drive, because the wheels are fitted to them and the axles to the engine via a transmission.
That means that ground clearance – what you can drive over without hearing the sound of metal crunching and bending – is dictated by wheel size and wheel size alone because that height dictates the level of the axle.
Even a monster truck has to use immense, oversized wheels to overcome this problem. Axles and wheels being in line also reduces what the suspension can do in terms of how much or how far the body can move to overcome an obstacle.
Portal axles eradicate all of these problems by breaking this union. A series of gears send the power down from the axles above (at engine height) to the wheels below.
This remarkable piece of engineering means the car has a 51.6° approach and 43.8° departure angle (a normal G-Class can only manage 30°) and a fording depth of 1 meter. It also means that for the uninitiated at least, it will seem like someone’s allowed a monster truck on the road.
It won’t quite have the grunt of Big Foot. The G550 4×4² will run on normal pump gas for starters and that fuel will be running through a 4-liter biturbo V8 engine good for 416hp and 450 lb-ft of torque that will run to all four wheels via a seven-speed automatic gearbox.
The car will also come with a satnav as standard, but with such an elevated driving position, owners should have no problem seeing the route ahead even without it.