The hypothetical question of "What would Jesus drive?" has been asked many times by many automotive pundits, with answers ranging from a bicycle, a Prius, a Leaf, or, taking a literal interpretation, ancient Hebrew sandals. It's the eternal unanswerable question. But for the top spiritual authority of this earthly realm (at least for the world's 1 billion+ Catholics), we can say it's a Mercedes-Benz ML.

This past weekend, Daimler AG chairman Dr. Dieter Zetsche presented Pope Benedict XVI with the latest Popemobile, a custom-built Mercedes-Benz ML built entirely in-house, and designed specifically for the transportation needs of the pontiff. The new Popemobile replaces a specially modified G-Class that was also used by Benedict's late predecessor, Pope John Paul II.

The latest Popemobile represents the latest chapter of an 80-year relationship between Mercedes-Benz and the Vatican. The new Popemobile features an extended dome increasing spaciousness in the vehicle and improved entry facilitated by a swingout tailgate. The view both out of and into the Popemobile has been improved with an increased glass area and an illuminated roof lining. The overall height of the vehicle has been reduced to facilitate easier air transport, while simultaneously improving the internal standing height dimensions.

The first Mercedes-Benz vehicle presented to a pontiff was a Nurburg 460 Pullman for Pius XI in 1930. The previous Mercedes-Benz models that have served in official Vatican capacity can be seen at museums at the Vatican and the Mercedes-Benz Museum in Stuttgart.

Source: Mercedes-Benz