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The Top Gear car review:Mercedes-Benz G-Class
For:Will almost certainly outlast mankind, very cool
Against:Old, incredibly expensive and not particularly green, fast or comfortable
G350 CDI BlueTEC 5dr Tip Auto
What’s the occasion?
The artisan off-roader formerly known as the G-Wagen – now the Mercedes G-Class – is 35 years old...
Weird thing, the Mercedes-Benz G-Class. At 36 years old it’s beyond pensionable, but the factory in Graz, Austria can’t build them quickly enough...
Is this the most extreme off-roader money can’t buy? Kyle Fortune tests MB’s bonkers new G-Wagen
It’s big, it’s brutal and we love it. Stand easy for the 6WD G-class
Merc’s hot rod truck is now available in RHD. Another excuse for a spin…
A G with this wonderful engine would be a guilty pleasure. In practice, it’s simply guilty
AMG’s new 5.5-litre V8 in a G-Class must be a recipe for success, right? Right? Paul Horrell reports
What we say:
A bygone era 4x4, designed back when SUVs were specifically for going off-road. Built like a tank - but on-road it's a different story.
What is it?
Mercedes hasn’t facelifted the G for a while. It’s so old, nobody’s quite sure how many facelifts it’s had: like the Land Rover Defender, this is a bygone era 4x4 designed when SUVs were built to go off-road. And indeed it does that rather well.
With the most recent facelift, Merc tempered the the on-road compromises somewhat, but it’s still jostly and tip-toey. The steering needs a lot of lock before the G starts to track, at which point it weights up considerably, and soon after the nose gets rather vague as the front tyres yield to physics - often before the stability control has got a sniff of what’s going on. But even so, it does speed and grip in a way that lets it keep pace with modern stuff without too much effort.
Around town, the G feels firm, but beyond city limits, it’s properly hard. You can see why this is - Merc has sought to improve body control by fitting stronger springs to limit roll and improve cornering ability. They work alright, but the trade-off is that the G hops and skips where say, a Range Rover wouldn’t.
The auto gearbox may have seven speeds, but it’s slower to choose between them, plus the engine is more raucous and less keen to respond quickly and accurately.
On the inside
Inside, the Geländewagen still has the look and feel of a proper utilitarian vehicle. It’s right there in the slabby trim and square-edged plastics, the lack of ergonomic friendliness, the way the doors have to be hurled shut, the roof guttering and dado rails round the flanks, and the careless width of the panel gaps. The overall suggestion is that passenger satisfaction and comfort weren’t primary objectives. But otherwise this thing will outlast mankind.
34mpg for the 3.0-litre diesel and 261g/km of CO2, or 24.8mpg for the 5.5-litre AMG V8, complete with 322g/km of the nasty stuff. Also starts at nearly £88k for the diesel, or £131k for the AMG. So not cheap, then.