In six months time, the original Gelandewagen/G-Class will have been in production for 30 years

In six months' time, the original Gelandewagen/G-Class will have been in production for 30 years

Following a recently published look at current and future Mercedes-Benz passenger cars, now comes a round-up of what's ahead for SUVs and the X-Class pick-up. This series, which has also looked at Denza, smart and Mercedes-Maybach, will next turn to Mercedes-AMG, and then finish with an exploration of EQ electrified models.

The GLA-Class is Mercedes' smallest crossover or SUV. Larger than the littlest equivalent Audi SUV, the Q2, this model is a rival for the Q3, Range Rover Evoque, BMW X1, BMW X2 and Volvo XC40.

Revealed at September 2013's Frankfurt motor show, initial production commenced three months later. The first customer deliveries were in March 2014, to LHD European markets. A facelifted range premiered at the Detroit auto show in January 2017. The update was new for North America's 2018 model year.

In November 2017, Daimler told the media that its Sindelfingen plant would add production of the GLA from the first quarter of 2018. This commenced on schedule in March. There will likely be some mechanical updates between now and 2021 but no more styling changes.

Series production of the X247 GLB-Class should get underway during the third quarter of 2019.

The second generation GLA-Class should use the MFA2 architecture. Expect a PHEV and a long-wheelbase seven-seat derivative too. The first variants are due for sales release in 2021.

X247 is the model code for an SUV which will likely be called GLB-Class. It will be available in standard five-seat or long-wheelbase seven-seater forms. Production will be built at COMPAS, the official name for the Renault-Nissan-Mitsubishi Alliance and Daimler's Aguascalientes 2 factory. The Infiniti QX50 was the first vehicle to be made at this new plant in north-central Mexico.

Series production of the GLB should get underway during the third quarter of 2019. China's Beijing Benz JV might also make this model, possibly solely in extended form.

The 4,656mm long GLC-Class replaced the GLK-Class which was five inches shorter and never built in right-hand drive form. Vehicles for Europe went on sale first: from September 2015. North American deliveries commenced two months later for that region's 2016 model year. Production in China commenced just weeks after the start of build in Germany. RHD production began in December 2015, followed nine months later by assembly in India.

According to a November news report by just-auto.com, Mercedes-Benz would expand GLC production by contracting out additional volume to Valmet Automotive from 2017. This was confirmed in August 2016. A-Class build by Valmet ceased at the end of 2016 so the GLC effectively took that car's place at the Finnish plant. GLC-Class production commenced at Uusikaupunki in February 2017.

A long-wheelbase GLC will be added later in 2018 or early in 2019. This is expected to be manufactured in China by the Beijing Benz joint venture. The delay in launching this model has been so as to time its introduction with the arrival of a facelift for the existing GLC. After that happens, the second generation model will be launched in 2022.

If the GLC competes with the BMW X3, then the GLC Coupé is Mercedes' retort to the X4. Project C253 had its world premiere in prototype form at Auto Shanghai in April 2015. The series production model arrived in 2016, debuting at the New York auto show. It is 8cm longer and 4cm lower than the GLC-Class. Production, which takes place in Germany, commenced in June 2016.

The C-Class All-Terrain would challenge the audi A4 allroad and join the E-Class All-Terrain as a second crossover-estate.

C253 will have a facelift in 2020. The second generation GLC Coupé follows in 2023.

Daimler may soon announce one more model in the C/D segments. This could be the proposed C-Class All-Terrain. A rival for the Audi A4 allroad, it would join the E-Class All-Terrain as a second crossover-estate.

The third generation M-Class was first seen at the 2011 Frankfurt motor show. Now known as the GLE-Class, this model is 4,804mm long, 1,926mm wide and 1,796mm tall, making it 24mm longer, 16mm wider and 19mm lower than the previous vehicle.

The name change for the ML or M-Class was announced in November 2014. The updated model range had its debut at the New York auto show in April 2015. No further updates are expected.

The next generation GLE-Class is once again expected to be manufactured in the US and assembled at other global plants. Production is due to commence in early 2019, although the model might well be revealed during the fourth quarter, potentially at the Los Angeles auto show or instead at a special event. It will use Daimler's Modular High Architecture (MHA).

C292 was the development code for the GLE Coupé. This 4.9m long rival for the BMW X6 would enter production at Mercedes-Benz's US plant from 2015, the company confirmed in June 2014. It effectively took the place of the R-Class, which did not sell at the levels which the company would have hoped for.

This model, which entered production in April 2015, was the first for Daimler's MHA, a rear- and all-wheel drive architecture for larger SUVs and crossovers. Next year will see a slightly restyled model released. Then in 2022 comes the second generation GLE Coupé, which will be based on MHA.

The E-Class is the only Mercedes-Benz presently to offer a derivative with the All-Terrain suffix. The E-Class All-Terrain competes directly with the Volvo V90 Cross Country and Audi A6 allroad. It is mainly sold in European markets and notably, not in the US. Based upon the E-Class estate, it has raised suspension and a few other changes. The public debut took place at the 2016 Paris motor show alongside the other variants of the then-new E-Class Estate range. Next up will be a facelift in 2020.

If sales of the current model are at a high enough level, Daimler may release a second generation E-Class All-Terrain in 2023.

There should be an extended wheelbase version of the future X167 GLS as well as a Mercedes-Maybach variant.

Above the E-Class A-T but below the two generations of the G-Class in terms of price sits the GLS-Class. Now approaching the end of its life cycle, production of the second generation of this large SUV commenced at Mercedes-Benz's US plant in June 2012.

Originally called GL-Class, the model name changed to coincide with a facelift. The more powerful and restyled GLS-Class premiered at November 2015's LA auto show. The addition of the S is meant to link this model to another large, high-priced model: the S-Class.

The GLS-Class is more or less a long wheelbase version of the GLE-Class, as was the first generation model. Its main market is the USA. Competitors there include the Range Rover, Cadillac Escalade, Infiniti QX80, Audi Q7, Lexus LX and Lincoln Navigator.

The next generation GLS-Class is said to be codenamed X167. It will be another model for MHA. There should also be an extended wheelbase body for a GLS-Class L and a high-priced Mercedes-Maybach variant (see this feature).

Daimler is keen to take as many sales as it can from the Range Rover so will style and price the new GLS accordingly. X167 will likely appear in late 2019 and have a seven to eight year life cycle, with a facelift in 2023. There is also a chance that a GLS Coupé may be added in the early 2020s.

At the top of the pricing tree is the G-Class, and there are two of them. Most people believe that the old model was discontinued last year but the first generation G-Class continues to be built.

A future G-Class cabriolet will probably be exclusive to Mercedes-Maybach.

Production of this ladder frame 4x4 commenced in February 1979 and officially ended in October 2017. However, that is not the whole story: the normal passenger variants, which use the W461 model code, were replaced by the new W464 G-Class in May but certain W461 versions continue. This is the development code for the military or other certain other heavy duty variants such as armoured ones. These wagon, chassis-cab and 6x6 variants are made in the same Austrian factory as the W464 five-door.

Magna Steyr says it will continue building the W461 at its Graz works in three body styles for as long as there is demand. Or until they are eventually replaced by equivalents in the W464 range. That will likely happen by 2022.

The second generation G-Class had its public debut at the Detroit auto show in January, with production commencing in mid-May.

The biggest engineering change is a fresh aluminium ladder frame chassis. Even though it has been styled to look like an updated version of the original, W464 is longer, lower and wider. It has also lost shed 170kg: the body shell made of a variety of steel grades, while the wings, bonnet and doors are aluminium.

A G-Class pick-up to replace the model created for the Australian market in 2016 is also expected. There will almost certainly also be a five-door cabriolet, although that body may be exclusive to a Mercedes-Maybach version of W464. All of these should have a minor facelift in 2024 and will likely be replaced in 2030, possibly sooner.

The 5,340mm long X-Class is the sole current Mercedes-Benz pick-up truck. Heavily based on the Nissan NP300, it is claimed to be a joint venture with the Renault-Nissan-Mitsubishi Alliance.

Revealed to the media in July 2017, X470 features a double cab and is targeted both at personal-use and commercial customers. The primary markets are Europe, Australia, New Zealand, South Africa, Argentina and Brazil. The company has ruled out a single cab body.

Production for the Australasian, European and South African markets commenced at Nissan Europe's Barcelona factory during the fourth quarter of 2017. Build by Renault at a factory in Argentina was added earlier this year.

As for engines, there are four-cylinder Renault-Nissan petrol and diesel units as well as a Mercedes-Benz V6 diesel.

Mercedes-Benz Vans has not ruled out the X-Class for the US market but says it will monitor sales in other markets. It could be that a larger model or the next generation X-Class - due for release in 2025 - might be built in North America. That could be in Cuernavaca (Nissan) or at Daimler's own Tuscaloosa/Vance plant in Alabama.

Daimler is said to be working on changing the hydraulic steering system of the current model to an electro-hydraulic one. This should appear at the time of a facelift in 2021, along with a steering column that has reach adjustment.

Daimler may build the next X-Class in China for both the local market and as part of an export programme.

Mercedes-Benz has filed trademark applications in multiple countries for certain X-Class applications. It may never use these and be seeking only to reserve them. Nonetheless, the action of doing so suggests that the division is already considering electric and AMG variants, possibly for the second generation model. They include:

  • X 220, X 230, X 250, X 260 and X 550 (additional petrol-powered variants)
  • X 43, X 45, X 65, X 66 (Mercedes-AMG)
  • X 220 e, X 350 e, X 400 e, X 450 e (plug-in hybrids)
  • EQX (battery electric)

Depending on how this segment of the market develops, it is possible that Daimler may also build the next X-Class in China for both the local market and as part of an export programme.

Future model plan reports for other manufacturers can be viewed in the OEM product strategy summaries section of just-auto.com.

Future product program intelligence

More detail on the past, current and forthcoming models for every division of Daimler AG can be found in PLDB, the future vehicles database which is part of QUBE. Project codes for the many cars mentioned in the above feature are listed in PLDB.

Expert analysis

just-auto PLDB - vehicle cycle plan database (annual subscription)

just-auto PLDB - vehicle cycle plan database (annual subscription)

PLDB from just-auto.com is a cost effective, vehicle cycle plan database, showing the production life of all major current and future vehicle models produced (or to be produced) globally by all brands...read more

Auto market intelligence
from just-auto

• Auto component fitment forecasts
• OEM & tier 1 profiles & factory finder
• Analysis of 30+ auto technologies & more