Mercedes G-Class review
The Mercedes G-Class is one of the most recognisable cars on – or indeed off – the road, and this latest model is more luxurious than ever, but other large SUVs are better to drive
What's not so good
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The Mercedes G-Class is a high-riding SUV that comes with a very luxurious interior and a range of powerful petrol and diesel engines. It might look a little old-fashioned, but it’s one of the most accomplished 4x4s on sale and a serious alternative to the likes of the Range Rover Sport and the Porsche Cayenne.
Step inside, however, and you’ll have no clue that this is a car designed to climb mountains and ford rivers. It comes with an uber-luxurious cabin that’s filled to bursting with plush leather, brushed aluminium and a futuristic dual-screen infotainment system borrowed from the S-Class.
Speaking of infotainment, the G-Class’ new system is more intuitive to use than ever and comes with satellite navigation, smartphone-mirroring for Apple and Android phones and a high-resolution digital driver’s display instead of conventional analogue dials. Top-spec G 63 models even get AMG-specific displays and plenty of sporty carbon-fibre trims on the dashboard and doors.
Whichever model you go for, the G-Class has a very spacious five-seater interior. The Big Friendly Giant himself would fit in the front seats with room to spare and there’s more than enough head and legroom in the back for very tall adults to get comfy. The boot has no trouble swallowing everything you might need for a lengthy camping holiday, too.
The new G-Class is a far cry from the old-fashioned model it replaces. It’s just as imposing to look at, even more luxurious inside and – in G 63 trim – faster than some supercars!
If you do decide to take your G-Class off the beaten track, you won’t have to worry about getting stuck – it’s one of the very best off-roaders around. All models, from the entry-level diesel to the high-performance G 63, come with three locking differentials to help stop individual wheels spinning on slippery and uneven surfaces. You also get special driving modes to help keep you moving on everything from a sandy beach to a rocky mountain pass.
Don’t think it’ll be uncomfortable to drive on the road, however. Sure, its huge body can make manoeuvring through tight city streets a bit tricky, but its suspension does a good job ironing out bumps around town – if you avoid the optional 22-inch alloy wheels, that is.
It’s pretty quiet at motorway speeds, too, and comes with plenty of high-tech assistance systems that were missing from the old model to help make your life easier and safer. You get adaptive cruise control, lane-keeping assist and even a self-parking system that’ll steer you into bay and parallel spaces automatically – handy in such a big car.
These technological leaps all help make the latest G-Class one of the best large luxury SUVs on sale, but they can’t hide the fact that it’s also one of the most expensive. That’s not to say you can’t get a discount on one. Check out our latest Mercedes G-Class deals.
See what a G63 is like to live with in our video:
The Mercedes G-Class’ huge body means it has absolutely masses of room inside, but its lofty ground clearance means elderly and less mobile passengers may struggle to climb in
The ‘G’ in G-Class might as well stand for ‘Gigantic’. It's absolutely colossal inside.
The Mercedes G-Class feels like an SUV designed specifically for tall drivers. There’s absolutely acres of head and legroom in the front seats and you get plenty of seat adjustment to help you find your ideal driving position.
Things are equally spacious in the back seats. The panoramic glass roof doesn’t cut into the available headroom and the Mercedes’ large square windows mean it doesn’t feel at all claustrophobic like some other equally imposing SUVs.
The central seat’s a little harder and narrower than the outer two, but at least everyone has somewhere to put their feet thanks to the G-Class’ mostly flat rear floor. Its very wide cabin means there’s plenty of shoulder room if you need to carry three adults in the back at once, too.
You get two sets of Isofix anchor points to let you fit a couple of child seats; handy if you regularly carry much younger passengers. The Mercedes G-Class’ back doors open nice and wide and their square openings leave plenty of space to lift in a bulky child seat. It’s easy to twist the seat in position, too.
Unfortunately, the Mercedes G-Class’ raised ride height means some passengers might find it a tad tricky to climb on board – especially if they’re older or have limited mobility. The rather old-fashioned door locks require you to pull very hard on the doors before they’ll click securely in place, too.
You get a fairly generous storage area under the Mercedes G-Class’ front armrest and both front door bins are wide enough to carry a half-litre bottle each. The glove box isn’t particularly roomy, however, and the rear door bins aren’t as big as those in the front.
But, you do get a folding rear armrest with two built-in cup holders for your back-seat passengers to share.
The Mercedes G-Class is impressively quiet and very relaxing to drive, until you head into town where its huge size makes parking a real pain
You won't have to worry about being let out if side turnings in the G-Class. Its brutish front end is enough to scare anything short of a military convoy into opening up a gap in traffic.
You can get the Mercedes G-Class with either a six-cylinder 3.0-litre diesel engine in G350d guise or a twin-turbo 4.0-litre V8 petrol engine in AMG-tuned G63 models.
The former produces 286hp which is enough to sprint this leviathan of an SUV from 0-62mph in just 7.4 seconds. It’s impressively smooth and quite for a diesel engine, too – it emits little more than a distant rumble when you accelerate hard and it ticks along with barely a whisper at 70mph.
Go easy on the accelerator and you’ll probably see it return around 25mpg. Hardly impressive then, and somewhere off Mercedes’ claimed 30mpg figure.
The twin-turbo V8 petrol is a whole different kettle of fish. It barks like the Hounds of Hades when you press the start button and pumps a sustained satisfying gurgle through the four side-exit exhausts at idle. It produces a whopping 585hp and will blast the G63 from 0-62mph in a pretty astonishing 4.5 seconds. That’s faster than plenty of sports cars and all but the very hottest of hot-hatches.
The downside to this frantic turn of speed is its thirstiness. Mercedes claims it’ll return 21.4mpg, but you’ll have to drive with the patience of a professional chauffeur to manage anything close to that figure. But who cares when the performance and the noise is as glorious as this?
Towering above traffic like a classy road-crane means you get an excellent view over other cars and most SUVs, too. The Mercedes G-Class’ large windows offer almost unparalleled visibility too, and you get a set of gigantic door mirrors to help spot other cars daring to sneak into your blind spot.
Unfortunately, none of this really makes up for the G-Class’ gigantic size – especially around town. Sure, the steering is nice and light and feels infinitely more precise than the old car’s archaic off-road-oriented setup, but squeezing this huge SUV down narrow streets and into tight parking spaces will get the pulse racing every time.
Thankfully, long motorway journeys will do the exact opposite because the Mercedes G-Class is very relaxing to cruise along in. You won’t hear too much wind or tyre noise – despite its huge size and bluff shape – and the suspension does a good job ironing out all but the most jarring potholes.
Show it a twisty country road and the Mercedes G-Class will lean quite a bit more than the likes of the Range Rover or Porsche Cayenne. It never feels particularly cumbersome though, especially in AMG G63 trim. These range-topping models come with sportier suspension and upgraded brakes designed to make them feel lighter and more agile than their sheer size would suggest. These modifications work, to an extent, but if it’s outright agility you’re after in your SUV, you’ll be much better off with a Porsche Cayenne.
Every Mercedes G-Class comes with a nine-speed automatic gearbox as standard. It shifts smoothly and makes light work of heavy traffic, but can be a little eager to change up early in G350d diesel models – even in the sportiest of driving modes. That being said, it works perfectly in the G63.
If you’re feeling particularly brave, you can head off the beaten track and traverse some seriously tricky rock-strewn trails without worrying about getting stuck. Unlike most SUVs, the Mercedes G-Class comes with three locking differentials that help maximise grip on slippery and uneven surfaces.
The Mercedes G-Class’ interior comes with plenty of uber-plush materials and bundles of futuristic features, but the optional carbon fibre trim looks a bit naff…