Mercedes-Benz wasn’t kidding when it said the rock-crawling G-Class 4×4² (pronounced “four-by-four squared”) off-roader would be a limited edition. Just under two years after the first examples of this SUV on steroids arrived in showrooms, Mercedes is ending production.
The 4×4² — which is sold as a G500 in Europe and a G550 in the United States — will be available to order through the end of October. After that, the model will be put out to pasture, according to a Mercedes press release. The 4×4² was admittedly a niche model, and Mercedes has many other G-Class variants to fill out its lineup.
What set the 4×4² apart from other versions of the G-Class were its portal axles. These allow the centerline of the wheel to sit below the centerline of the axle, increasing ground clearance. The 4×4² had an impressive 17 inches of ground clearance, and the ability to ford up to 39.4 inches of water. Because they have their own gears to transfer power to the wheels, portal axles also have the effect of gearing a vehicle down, making it easier to crawl along at low speeds over rough terrain.
The G550 4×4² got its magic axles from the six-wheeled Mercedes-Benz G63 AMG 6×6, which was never sold in the United States. Mercedes essentially took the off-road hardware from that behemoth and applied it to the standard four-wheel G-Class chassis.
Power comes courtesy of the same 4.0-liter, twin-turbocharged V8 used in the less-extreme G550. The engine produces 416 horsepower and 450 pound-feet of torque, and is mated to a seven-speed automatic transmission. Interestingly, Mercedes claims that because of its wider track, the G550 4×4² corners better than the standard G550, despite its higher center of gravity.
The 4×4² started out as a concept car, but the public was so enthusiastic about it that Mercedes decided to put it into production. The first European-market cars hit showrooms in December 2015, and Mercedes announced U.S. sales in June 2016. But U.S. deliveries didn’t begin until earlier this year.
That gives the 4×4² a pretty short lifespan, but it’s not like there would have been an unlimited market for such a specialized vehicle. The standard G-Class already offers more off-road capability than most buyers really need, after all. The 4×4² also doesn’t come cheap: the base price is currently set at $225,925.
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