After numerous teasers, spyshots and leaks, the new Mercedes-Benz G-Class has finally been unveiled at the 2018 North American International Auto Show (NAIAS) in Detroit. The iconic Geländewagen has been thoroughly redeveloped inside and out, putting this behemoth firmly into the 21st century.

That may be so, but the G-Class is nowadays as much a fashion item as it is a robust go-anywhere machine, and the designers took great care not to mess with a winning design. The boxy body remains, but the front fascia is more fluid, incorporating elements from Mercedes’ Sensual Purity design language.

The round headlights, for example, are now full LED, with ring-shaped daytime running lights around the perimeter. The front and rear bumpers are also better integrated into the overall design, as are the square wheel arches – Mercedes says that they look less like add-on items now. The company has also worked to minimise panel gaps and improve surface quality with the move to the new generation.

Otherwise, it’s the G-Class that you know and love, with anachronic details like the prominent protective black strip around the vehicle, exposed door and bonnet hinges, tailgate-mounted spare wheel, indicators atop the front fenders, chunky door handles and even the “characteristic” door closing sound all being retained.

Even so, don’t think for a second that the all-new G-Class isn’t really all-new, not when it’s 53 mm longer and whopping 121 mm wider than before. This is claimed to offer better legroom, shoulder room and elbow room, with rear passengers in particular receiving a generous 150 mm of extra knee space.

Inside, the new G-Class borrows plenty from its passenger car siblings. While defining characteristics such as a passenger-side dashboard grab handle and centre console buttons for all three locking differentials remain, they are interspersed with items like a modern touchpad-equipped three-spoke steering wheel and turbine-style circular air vents from the E-Class Coupé.

Also lifted from the E-Class is the flat display panel that sits in front of the driver. As standard, there are twin analogue gauges and a small central infotainment display, but buyers can go all the way up to a full Widescreen Cockpit with twin 12.3-inch screens.

The standard seats feature a driver’s side memory function and front and rear heating; specify the Active Multicontour Seat Package and you’ll get active inflatable bolsters, a massage function and seat ventilation as well. Another feature borrowed from passenger car models is the Dynamic Select system with Eco, Comfort, Sport and Individual driving modes.

Underneath, the new G-Class features a body made from a mix of strong, high-strength and ultra-high-strength steels, with aluminium used on the bonnet, fenders and doors. As such, it now weighs around 170 kg less than before, whilst still increasing torsional rigidity by some 55%, from 6,537 to 10,162 Nm per degree. Mercedes says that this has improved ride and handling as well as lowering noise and vibrations.

To improve on-road agility whilst retaining or even improving on its predecessor’s impervious off-road capability, the new G-Class is equipped with completely redesigned suspension, developed in partnership with Mercedes-AMG. The set-up consists of double wishbone suspension mounted directly to the ladder frame, enabling the front end to be stiffened with the addition of a strut tower brace.

Meanwhile, the solid rear axle is now controlled using four trailing arms on each side and a Panhard rod to improve on-road comfort. The steering has also been switched to a electromechanical power-assisted rack-and-pinion set-up, in order to incorporate driver assists such as Parking Assist.

Mind you, with ground clearance measuring 270 mm at the front and 241 mm at the rear, the G-Class is still no slouch off the beaten track, with a 31-degree approach angle, a 26-degree break-over angle, a 30-degree departure and the ability to climb slopes as steep as 45 degrees. Maximum water fording depth is also up by no less than 100 mm to an impressive 700 mm.

For even greater off-road prowess, there’s the new G-Mode which activates whenever a differential lock or low-range gearing is engaged. It adjusts the adaptive damping, the steering and the throttle response to suit the terrain, and avoids unnecessary gear shifts to ensure maximum control and capability.

At its launch in June, the new G-Class will be offered with just one variant, the G 500, powered by the AMG-derived 4.0 litre biturbo V8 first seen on the G 500 4×4². Outputs are rated at 422 hp and 610 Nm of torque, sent to all four wheels via a nine-speed 9G-Tronic automatic transmission.