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 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.
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.
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.