Contrary to some of its competitors like the utility Land Rover, the G-Wagen was conceived as a military vehicle rather than a car targeted to the civil markets. DaimlerChrysler offers a series of sport utility vehicles to the public under the Mercedes-Benz brand as G-Class. Commonly referred to as the G-Wagen, short for Gelandewagen (or Cross-Country Vehicle), Mercedes secured military contracts for the vehicle in the late 1970s and offered a civilian version to the public in 1979.
Military G-Wagens are produced in soft-and hardtop versions of the 2.4 and 2.8 metres wheel-base known in civilian versions, but also in chassis-cab with 3.12 and 4.3 metres, mainly for ambulance conversions. The vast majority of military G-Wagens is either 240 GD or 290 GD and comes with the Sprinter 2.9-litre Turbo engine. Under the bonnet of the P4 model breathes either a 2-litre petrol with 83.5hp or a 2.5 naturally aspirated diesel with 75hp. An armoured kit can be fitted (or removed) in 8 hours by three soldiers. The rugged construction of the G-Class and the armour kit have been credited with saving the lives of a number of Canadians during their use in Afghanistan. There is also the Peugeot P4 version which is a derivative from the G-Class and is equipped with Peugeot engines and equipment. The G-Wagen is in service with the Austrian, German, Canadian, Estonian, Dutch, French, Norwegian, Danish, Singapore and the Swiss Armed Forces as well as the US Marine Corps.