Mercedes G-Class review - Engines, performance and drive
It’s still a formidable off-roader, but the G-Class is now more agile on the road, especially in G 63 guise
With the demise of the Land Rover Defender, there’s nothing else like the Mercedes G-Class on the market. But while some aspects of the driving experience remain the same – the commanding driving position is present and correct – in just about every other respect, the G-Class has taken a quantum leap forward.
Obviously, it’s still awesome to drive off-road. The clientele may have changed, but the G-Class has to be able to tackle the roughest of roads and the toughest of challenges. There are three differential locks, low range gears for off-roading and a new G-Mode, which allows the car to creep slowly but steadily over rough ground. There’s also an additional 10cm of wading depth – now up to 70cm when driving through water or mud.
But the biggest surprise is how the G-Class behaves on the road. It’s far more agile than before, largely thanks to a thoroughly modernised suspension set-up and optional adaptive dampers. It’s by no means a sports car or a performance SUV – even in G 63 guise – but the redesigned chassis manages to keep the G-Class under control.
Body roll is kept in check, although there’s not enough steering feel to encourage you to approach a corner with real vigour. Driving quickly requires your attention – this isn’t a lazy performance SUV. Enter a corner too quickly and the brakes will have to work very hard to scrub speed from the 2.5-tonne G-Class.
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Car group tests
A nine-speed automatic transmission is a new addition for the G-Class and it’s a slick piece of engineering, delivering smooth up and downshifts. It’s best left to its own devices, but some extra control is available via the weighty paddle shifts mounted behind the wheel.
Engines, 0-60 acceleration and top speed
The G 63 is powered by a fabulous 4.0-litre twin-turbocharged engine developing 577bhp and 850Nm of torque to create one of the most unlikely performance vehicles of the modern age. This is a little like strapping a pair of rockets to your favourite upmarket farm shop, with the 0-62mph time polished off in a ridiculous 4.5 seconds.
It’ll hit a top speed of 137mph, although this can be increased to 149mph if you fit the optional AMG Driver’s pack. But while the speed is impressive, it’s the sound coming out of the side exhausts that will live longest in the memory.
In comparison, the 282bhp 3.0-litre straight-six diesel in the G 350 d is a more cultured and civilised affair, but it’s certainly no slouch. It’ll sprint from 0-62mph in 7.4 seconds before hitting a top speed of 124mph.
In this review
- 1Mercedes G-Class reviewLife begins at 40 for this motoring icon, with the Mercedes G-Class now better than ever
- 2Engines, performance and drive - currently readingIt’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