When Mercedes first showed their Vision GST concept at the Detroit Motor Show in January of 2002, we knew the production car would become a very big thing. Now that we’ve spotted the production car undergoing testing in Spain, we have to revise our sight: the production Mercedes GST will not be a big car – it’ll be huge!
The unibody GST will be one part of Mercedes’ three-pronged assault on the four-wheel-drive market. It will carry over the unique roofline shown on the Vision GST concept, but other than that and a few additional styling cues, the production version will not closely resemble the concept.
The M-Class will remain the company’s best-selling mid-size off-roader to take on the BMW X5, while the upcoming G-Wagen replacement is to take on the Land Rover Defender. The GST, however, combines the attributes of an SUV, sedan, coupé and minivan to create an ultimate high-riding luxury motoring experience. The Grand Sports Tourer will come with sleek styling and a glass roof similar to that of the Mercedes Sports Coupé.
The long-wheelbase version – measuring in at roughly 202 inches – will accommodate up to eight with its fold-away rear bench, although for long trips the fold-out seats may not be the most comfortable. The short-wheelbase model – approximately 191 inches – will seat five in its spacious cabin
The GST will truly be an upscale multipurpose vehicle, but with luxury amenities, refined road manners and a range of powerful engines. We expect the model to offer a variety of engines, including a 231-hp 3.0-liter and 258-hp 3.6-liter V-6s, a 306-hp 5.0-liter V-8, and a turbodiesel. And don’t forget the AMG version – a 388-hp GST55 AMG is expected to be introduced in early 2006!
The Grand Sport Tourer will feature permanent four-wheel drive with electronic differentials on each axle and adjustable air suspension, speed-sensitive parameter steering, drive-by-wire, shift-by-wire and electro-hydraulic brakes.
We expect to see the production version introduced about a year from now, but production isn’t scheduled to start in Alabama until late in 2004. The first GSTs should be in dealership in early 2005 – but we’re not sure if they’ll carry the 2005 designation, or go directly to the 2006 model year.
The concept we saw here:
2001 CL Type S
2001 Lexus RX300 Silversport