What I like about the G-Wagen is, that since it was launched back in 1979, it has remained practically unchanged. The iconic go anywhere G-Class is the longest-running model series in Mercedes-Benz history, though of course it has been refreshed and revitalised over the years, with advanced new engines and luxurious interiors, but externally it’s the same old silhouette.
Todays G-Wagen, for the UK line-up at least, comprises of just 2 models, the Mercedes-AMG 63, and what I’m driving today, the G350.
I’ve always said this, and it’s genuinely a compliment, but I’ve always considered the G-Wagen a more expensive Defender, that happens to be better built.
Walking up to it, its military background is noticeable, as you’re confronted by its slab sided body with a huge rubber protection strip. Modern improvements include bi-xenon headlamps, LED daytime running lamps and electric heated, folding door mirrors with integral indicators, which are colour coded.
Jump inside and I’m greeted with the same layout from when I last drove one, which was about 4 years ago; there’s nothing wrong with that, if it isn’t broken, don’t fix it. I have to commend Mercedes-Benz, they’ve done a splendid job with the limited amount of space you have in a G-Wagen.
Their COMAND Online with Media Interface is standard, which includes a centrally mounted 7” tablet styled screen. I love the fact that it has all modern features like navigation with 3D map display, Traffic Message Channel, Linguatronic voice control, in-car internet access alongside a huge grab handle on the front-passenger side!
Driving the G-Wagen along an undulating and twisty road raised an eyebrow, it rolls around like an old Range Rover Classic, but the Euro-5 compliant V6 turbo-charged diesel engine pulls it along nicely. I’m not going to say that it was a sublime drive, it wasn’t, but again Mercedes-Benz have done a fine job of making a military truck into something more than bearable.
With the aerodynamics of a biscuit tin and 211bhp on tap from its 3ltr blueTEC lump, Mercedes-Benz reckon it’ll achieve a combined 25mpg, which isn’t bad, honest. On the subject of performance, I thought the 7-speed automatic gearbox did a admirable job of getting us to 62mph in 9.1 seconds and reaching 108mph (I read that top speed in the marketing bumf by the way, I’m not that daft!)
Sadly I wasn’t able to take the G’ off-road (I’m confident that it would’ve been frowned upon) as it was only a 20-minute flash drive, however, with its monster ladder-frame chassis, permanent all-wheel drive, three locking differentials and a raft of electronic driver aids you can be sure that with the right tyres it’ll go wherever you point it!
Our time was up far too quickly, and as I walked away from the G-Wagen I couldn’t help but smile at the fact that, with the modern day myriad of rules on what vehicle manufactures can and can’t do, the mighty G-Wagen still lives on.
Here’s a bit of trivia:
Each vehicle takes 40 hours to build, and production is pegged at just 15 a day, so there you go.