First Drive: 2005 Mercedes-Benz G55 AMG

After 25 years, the G-Wagen goes out with a (supercharged) bang

Mark Williams –
Dec 7, 2004
Photographers: The Manufacturer
Mercedes-Benz is throwing a big sendoff for the 25-year-old G-Class--the rugged, function-first, military-inspired sport/utility--by giving it the most powerful V-8 ever offered in any factory-sold SUV.

At 469 horses and 516 pound-feet of torque, the handbuilt AMG 5.5-liter supercharged V-8 offers 30 percent more power than last year's naturally aspirated G55 (which at the time was also the strongest SUV sold in the U.S.). The new AMG G55 version uses a different fuel- injection system, an intercooler, and a screw-type supercharger to create the extra go. And even though this AMG engine is shared with E-, S-, SL-, and CL-Class sedans and coupes, this G55 could be the most muscular-sounding V-8 you'll ever hear.
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According to preliminary M-B test data, the 2005 G55 can haul its 5600-plus pounds to 100 kph (62 mph) from a standing start in 5.6 seconds, setting it squarely next to the Porsche Cayenne Turbo in acceleration. As with all AMG variants, bigger and stronger binders deliver enhanced braking performance, resulting in excellent, almost disturbingly calm stopping power.
Underneath, the G-Class still uses (very) old-school front and rear solid axles and a super-rigid ladder frame. Unlike last year's G55, though, which included a stiffer, more performance-oriented suspension, the 2005 will have a softer ride and feel, more akin to the standard-issue G500.
That said, we still found plenty of characteristic Mercedes-Benz precision and control when we pushed it through the Austrian Alps. All G-Class units will continue to offer center, rear, and front independently locking differentials (and they must be engaged in that order when used), keeping the G-Class the closest thing to a steel-sided mountain goat on sale in the States.

Over the last 25 years, M-B has sold over 175,000 G-Wagens worldwide, averaging close to 7000 units per year. Most of them go to various international militaries, and every one is handbuilt at the same Graz, Austria, assembly plant.
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This is the last year the G-Class will be built in its current form--hence this extra-special AMG G55 model. The next iteration G-Class should surface in a year or two, aimed at high-end Range Rover, Lexus, and Cadillac SUV buyers. But it'll surely lose some of its "function-over-form" personality. You can expect the 25th-Anniversary Edition G55 to cost around $100,000. You'll have to hurry if you want one: Of the 1900 G-Class models to be sold in the U.S. this year, only 300 or so will be offered in AMG configuration. A fine gift, after 25 years of hard work.
2005 Mercedes-Benz G55 AMG
Price$100,000 (MT est)
Vehicle layouFront engine, 4WD, 4-door, 5-pass SUV
Engine5.5L/469-hp supercharged V-8, SOHC, 3 valves/cyl
0-60 mph, sec5.5 (mfr est)
On sale in U.S.Fall 2004
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Mercedes-Benz G Class

Fair Market Price
$112,629
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MSRP: $115,400
Mileage: 12 / 15
Engine: 5.5L V8
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