The Mercedes G Wagen, the three-decade old off-roading icon has been given a new lease of life thanks to Mercedes-Benz World, which is importing updated examples of Steyr-Puch’s classic G-Class into the UK.
Available in right-hand drive and with a choice of one diesel or one petrol engine, you can now have one of these rugged, boxy, five-seat hand-built Gelaendewagen 4x4s on your driveway. This revival has spawned a couple of special edition run outs including the rugged G 500 4x4 squared and the 6-wheeler giant G 63 6x6. Not content with just leaving the G-Class the same, Mercedes are tinkering with their retro SUV for the 2018 model. Fans will be glad to know its boxy shape, ladder chassis and live rear axle will remain, however there are suggestions it could be wider to allow more interior space, as well as having a revamped cabin and infotainment offering.
But assuming you’re not a UN peace-keeper or professional mountaineer, the question isn’t so much, “Would you be to mad to buy one” but, “Exactly how mad would you need to be?” A little bit nerve-frayed, or a stark raving lottery-winner? Our test example, a 3.0-litre V6 turbodiesel G 350 Bluetec version gave us a good idea.
Mercedes-Benz should be applauded for the thoroughness of its update to the G-Class: this oil-burner gets M-B’s seven-speed auto ’box, electro-hydraulic power steering even, and returns an acceptable (for a two and a half tonne off-road behemoth) 28.5mpg and 261g/km of CO2 on the combined cycle, figures vastly improved on from the original reincarnation. While propping up the range is the 5.5-litre V8 petrol engine built by AMG and produces consequently 563bhp and 560lb ft of torque.
And yet the G-Class’s driving experience remains determinedly, irredeemably old tech. Optional 18-inch alloy wheels with 60-profile winter tyres combine with the G-Class’s rough and ready “trailing link and panhard rod” suspension for an alarmingly choppy ride on typical urban roads. Performance is as plentiful as you’d ever want given the G-Class’s approximation of body control and lack of steering precision, with a 0-62mph time of 8.9sec and a 119mph top speed.
While the 5.5-litre V8 AMG model is a different kettle of fish as it manages 0-62mph in 5.4sec and goes on to what would likely be a terrifying 130mph top speed.
But whichever version you choose this is a car you’d only ever drive slowly, particularly over larger bumps and dips, for fear of being thrown out of your seat. And regrettably, Mercedes’ electro-hydraulic power steering doesn’t seem to be powerful enough for the G-Class: the car’s helm is now seriously heavy and slow to self-centre.