Mercedes G-Class review
Life begins at 40 for this motoring icon, with the Mercedes G-Class now better than ever
In a world of me-too SUVs and crossovers, the Mercedes G-Class is wonderfully unique and dripping with charm. It doesn’t come cheap, but Mercedes has carefully managed the evolution of this cult off-roader, staying true to its original design while upgrading the running gear and improving the interior. In fact, the sumptuous cabin is one of the G-Wagen’s standout features, which is aided by a pair of huge infotainment screens. It retains its legendary off-road capabilities, but is now far better to drive on the road. Thanks to its V8 engine, the G 63 is the most fun, but the G 350 d is the choice for those who have one eye on the household budget. Exclusivity is guaranteed if you opt for this German icon.
Few vehicles for sale can reach the dizzy heights of legendary status – Mini, Beetle, Defender and Mustang are four names that spring to mind – but the Mercedes G-Class (formerly the G-Wagen) can pull up a chair at the top table of motoring icons, while the 2018 version set new standards for quality and driving ability, too.
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Launched in 1979, the Gëlandewagen (Go-anywhere-car) has climbed every mountain and forded every stream, and provided transport to a wide range of audiences, including armies, forest rangers, firefighters and even the Pope. More recently, it has become a 4x4 of choice for the rich and famous, with Mercedes all too happy to cultivate some Hollywood glamour.
Much like the Land Rover Defender and Jeep Wrangler, the G-Class developed a loyal following, despite – how can we put this – not being the most mechanically sorted and refined of vehicles. It was kept relatively fresh courtesy of a series of small changes, but the 2018 update is the most comprehensive overhaul ever.
In fact, it’s pretty much a complete redesign. Cleverly, Mercedes has retained the iconic shape, but all the body panels are entirely new. The spare wheel on the back, the exposed door hinges and round headlights are three of the most visible nods to the G’s heritage.
There are just two models available in the UK: the G 350 d AMG Line and Mercedes-AMG G 63. Prices start from around £94,000 for the diesel, with the G 63 weighing in at £145,000. And we mean ‘weighing in’ quite literally, as the G-Class weighs around 2.5 tonnes.
The G 350 d is powered by a 3.0-litre straight-six diesel producing 282bhp, while the 4.0-litre twin-turbo V8 in the G 63 develops a monstrous 577bhp. Thanks to the car’s weight and aerodynamics akin to a warehouse, it’s probably best you don’t think about the fuel economy. Even the G 350 diesel is unlikely to deliver much more than 25mpg.
But to criticise the G-Class for its list price and thirst would be to miss the point of this iconic off-roader. Not only does it look fabulous, but it’s also blessed with one of the best interiors of the modern age, with Mercedes successfully blending old-school charm with new-age tech.
It’ll be a niche purchase in the UK, and most will be found parked on the trendy streets of Central London, alongside top-spec Range Rovers and newcomers such as the Bentley Bentayga and Lamborghini Urus. But exclusivity is guaranteed, and you’ll turn as many heads as a supercar.
In this review
- 1Verdict - currently readingLife begins at 40 for this motoring icon, with the Mercedes G-Class now better than ever
- 2Engines, performance and driveIt’s still a formidable off-roader, but the G-Class is now more agile on the road, especially in G 63 guise
- 3MPG, CO2 and Running CostsExpensive to buy and to run, especially in the case of the G 63
- 4Interior, design and technologyMercedes has blended old and new to perfection, with a beautifully finished cabin and the latest tech
- 5Practicality, comfort and boot spaceIt’s not as practical as the dimensions would suggest, while parking the G-Class could be tricky
- 6Reliability and SafetyThe G’s quality shines through, but safety and reliability are harder to judge