Again, no disputing this vehicle would never really reach the mainstream, but your point that many people thought it was a retro truck points to how bad MBUSA did at marketing it. For me it means 2 things, the people that thought they wanted it turned out to be wrong, and the people that would want it, didn't know what it was.
Germany didn't listen to MBUSA specifically regarding the G500? I would think only in perhaps they nearly forced the vehicle on MBUSA such that it seems the only thing MBUSA every really said was "we don't want it, it wont do well"... which combined with a marginal first year reliabilty in in my opinion gives great insight into why it didn't do well.
If i'm an orange salesman and somebody begrudginly makes me sell apples and i stick them at the back of the store, and can't or do a poor job at answering questions about them when asked... guess how we'll my apples will sell?
I agree (did agr say it?) they've done a fair job at spifing up the car as the world markets would require of a vehicle with that cost. But like the cayenne, start off with the big motors to make it an exclusive vehicle, then start selling the small motored versions to pick up the numbers even more by having an option that's at least 20k less.
Despite my relative lack of interest in the 320 CDI, and despite i somewhat prefer these vehicles stay rare as possible, if the 320CDI has enough power and they can release it with a sticker under 50k, i think it could potentially surprise people how well it sells. (perhaps just lightly beating it's sales targets is what i mean by this) I think in the 40k's is where the average (or even somewhat above average) Joe draws the line on how much they can justify a vehicle to themselves or their wives.