£135,950 - £152,600 Price range
Reviews for the Mercedes G-Class are fairly mixed, it has bags of character, but it’s not without its problems. The biggest complaint about the G-Class is the cost, followed closely by the chassis that dates back to the 1970s. However, the experts can still see the appeal.
The G-Class, or G-Wagen as it’s often known, is one of few vehicles where the pure review scores don’t tell the full story. In that respect, it’s very much like Britain’s favourite, the Land Rover Defender – and the similarities don’t end there.
If you’re looking for a slightly smaller SUV, the new Mercedes GLB will apply G-Class styling cues to a significantly more compact, and more modern, package.
As in the Defender, the G-Class interior is a relatively old design, though as you’d expect in such an expensive car, Mercedes have gone to great lengths to disguise the humble origins. Modern tech keeps the occupants entertained, with Mercedes’ COMMAND multimedia system and seven-speaker Harman Kardon set up disguising the fact that this car has been in production since 1979.
It’s all impeccably trimmed inside, with plenty of leather on every surface and an incredibly high standard of build. The driving position is very high, and you get a great view of the road.
Reviews seem to suggest it’s comfortable enough, at least on the proviso you don’t drive anywhere in it… Despite being tarted up for the modern day, this is an old vehicle at heart and really feels like it. Testers say the ride is poor, it lacks body control, the power steering isn’t quite powered enough (the steering is very heavy) and the shape of the body makes higher-speed driving a chore thanks to the wind noise.
It’s a game of two halves though, for off-road the G-Class has the same go-anywhere ability as the Land Rover Defender. Differential locks, a low-range gearbox, high wading depth and high approach and departure angles mean this is one 4×4 that will go further than virtually any other.
There are two models available – the G350 BlueTEC, with its V6 turbodiesel, and the 5.4-litre, 544-horsepower V8 of the G63 AMG. The latter is as ludicrously quick as it is expensive to run. The former is torquey, and in comparison, relatively economical. It’s fair to say it makes as much sense as eighty grand’s worth of 1970s-based off-roader can.
All the reviews are of the diesel, which has a decent turn of pace and a smooth, seven-speed automatic gearbox. It can feel a little strained, but then it’s hauling 2.5 tonnes of brick-shaped 4×4.
At more than £86,000 for the “basic” G350, this is not a cheap vehicle, and when you compare it to more modern rivals like the Range Rover it looks positively expensive.
The quality and trim go some way to restoring the balance, but the running costs will quickly swing things back in the other direction. For many people, the G-Wagen is a dream vehicle, so price may not matter.
The low review scores of the G-Class give a clear, objective view of what the car is actually like. Realistically, it’s expensive, uncomfortable, and generally hopeless on the road. At the same time, it has character and presence that few other cars on sale could hope to match, and it’s almost untouchable off road. The G-Class is fun but flawed.
Buying a G-Glass is never going to be a sensible purchase, so if you’re in the market for one, you might as well do things properly and buy the bonkers AMG.