October is your last chance to buy a piece of automotive history. Mercedes has confirmed that its limited-edition Mercedes-Benz G 500 4×4² is only set to stay in production until the end of this month and then the 422hp, V8-propelled $300,000 luxury off-roader and its ingenious portal axles will be no more.
When it was unveiled at the Geneva Motor Show in 2015 as little more than an engineering concept, demand for the car was so overwhelming that Mercedes put the SUV, which stands over 2.2 meters tall, into very limited production the following year. But demand continued to grow and so 12 months later the vehicle was homologated for the US market, too.
And even though the entire western motoring world seems to be gravitating towards the SUV, thanks to the car’s outrageous proportions and ride height — it has 450mm ground clearance and a wading depth of 1 meter – the G 500 4×4² is still guaranteed to stand out in any vehicular crowd.
Key to this individuality are its aforementioned portal axles which enable the car to have a monster ride height without monster truck wheels at each corner.
Rather than a traditional axle that runs parallel with the centers of the wheels to provide forward or backwards drive, a set of gears in a diagonal downwards formation connect the wheels to the axle heads of the engine above.
It’s like putting a car on a set of stilts — but the resulting behavior is the opposite. Rather than wobbling all over the place, the car’s off-road prowess is squared (hence the name) as is its maneuverability.
Because the wheel centers aren’t connected directly at a right-angle to the engine, the suspension system allows each individual wheel to travel further in any given direction. While for those that are never going to take the car off the beaten track, there is also a sports mode that tightens up the shocks, cuts body roll and keeps everything flat in the corners.