Once you’ve climbed up into the leather-lined cabin and settled into the supportive seats - itself no light exercise and one that takes some mastering, you discover many similarities with the standard G 500. The upright pillars, steeply angled windscreen and large expanse of side glass are all distinctly old school, but are also very much at the heart of its appeal.
As with its standard sibling, the show car provides seating for up to five. The interior architecture, including the shallow dashboard and sheer door trims, is distinctly old-fashioned. However, the use of contemporary trim materials and switchgear helps to make for a pleasant enough cabin ambiance. Although the tracks have been widened, the interior retains the same dimensions. There’s loads of head room, but shoulder room is at a premium.
There is a determined blast of exhaust through the four chromed side pipes as you fire the new twin-turbocharged 4.0-litre direct-injection V8 engine. It provides the G500 4x4² with a terrifically sporting note before you’ve even turned a wheel.
Once under way, the commanding seating position affords a great view forward, allowing you to place the new Mercedes-Benz easily and without any trepidation on the road.
Being able to see above other road users also permits a more anticipatory driving style than in the standard G500, simply because you can see so far ahead and react accordingly. However, limited rear three-quarter vision means a blind-spot monitor would come in handy, particularly on multi-lane roads.
The heavily upgraded underpinnings offer a distinctly more cossetting feel over a variety of surfaces than those of the standard suspension. Small bump absorption is particularly noteworthy at low to moderate speeds, providing the G 500 4x4² with a pleasingly compliant ride with the adaptive dampers set to comfort mode. There is less high frequency vertical movement and generally less fidgeting on pitted surfaces than in the standard G 500.
With a solid spread of low end torque and quick shifting qualities from the seven-speed automatic gearbox, off-the-line and in-gear performance is surprisingly strong for something so big. It might hit the scales a whisker under three tonnes, but the new Mercedes-Benz feels muscular from the off and always gives the impressive of having plenty of power in reserve should you ever require it.
The initial growl of exhaust at start-up is replaced by a more subdued soundtrack, although with the side pipes exiting below the rear doors the low rev burble at typical motorway speeds is omnipresent, even on light throttle loads.
Official performance figures are yet to be confirmed. However, those in the know at our drive of the G 500 4x4² in Spain this week suggest it’ll crack 62mph from standstill in 6.5sec, run to a top speed of 130mph in combination with the optional 22-inch wheel and tyre package and 100mph with the optional off-road rubber.
There is quite a lot of buffeting at speed, although wind noise is very well suppressed, thanks to the bank vault-like sealing of the cabin and inherent solidity of its bodyshell. This aside, it's an accomplished long-distance proposition, with a lopping gait in taller gears, good longitudinal stability and impressive ride comfort from the long-travel suspension.
The exceptional ride height and large-profile tyres suggests the G 500 4x4² would be a real handful with masses of body lean and less-than-scintillating levels of grip at anything more than moderate speeds over a winding road. Surprisingly, though, this is not the case.
With a generous 299mm of additional track width helping to compensate for its higher gait and the trick dual-strut spring and damper arrangement providing tremendous body control through its ability to firm up the damping when switched to sport mode, it can be made to track through open corners with surprising authority.
Granted, it is no sports car, but the engaging progressiveness to its handling on challenging sections of road makes even the standard G 500 feel rather ordinary by comparison.
The hydraulically operated steering, which uses the old fashioned recirculating ball set-up of the standard G 500, offers a nice meaty feel. But, predictably given the weight of the wheels and aspect ratio of the rubber it wears, it is rather vague in terms of response as you come off centre; it is often upset small camber changes, requiring the odd correction from time to time.
Still, the G 500 4x4² proves surprisingly nimble for something so tall, allowing you to string together a series of corners with a good deal more confidence than in the larger G 63 AMG 6x6.
Still, it is off-road where the new four-wheel-drive Mercedes-Benz really excels, proving even more impressive than its six-wheel sibling, particularly at low speeds over rocky terrain where it feels virtually invincible.
With unparalleled levels of ground clearance, truly amazing wheel articulation, low-range gearing and a variety of differential lock combinations to aid traction when the conditions become really challenging, your progress is rarely interrupted.
With a measured approach, it nonchalantly scales the sort of grades, transverse rivers and clambers over the sort of rocky outcrops that would stop most other dedicated off-roaders dead in their tracks.