From £92,070
Old-school 4x4 bristles with character and offroad ability, but is much too unrefined and antiquated for everyday use

Our Verdict

Mercedes-Benz G-Class

The Gelaendewagen is Mercedes' take on the rugged, boxy Land Rover Defender with more added luxury

What is it?

A thirty-year-old offroading icon given a new lease of life. Mercedes Benz World has recently begun importing updated examples of Steyr-Puch’s classic Gelaendewagen 4x4 into the UK.

Available in right-hand drive and with a choice of diesel engines for the first time, you can put one of these handbuilt 4x4s on your driveway for a mere £80k. 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 turbodiesel, gave us a good idea.

What’s it like?

Mercedes should be applauded for the thoroughness of its update to the G-class: this oil-burner gets MB’s seven-speed auto ‘box, electro-hydraulic power steering even, and returns an acceptable 25mpg. You get a full COMAND nav system as standard as well as heated leather, ISOFIX child seat anchorages even, while rear DVD screens, a heated steering wheel and a TV tuner are on the options list.

And yet the G-class’ driving experience remains determinedly, irredeemably old tech. Optional 18in alloy wheels with 60-profile winter tyres combine with the G-class’ rough and ready “railing 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’ approximate body control and lack of steering precision. But 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.

None of which would matter much if you were buying the G 350 for its considerable offroad credentials. This car will forge 600mm of standing water - more than a Land Rover Defender - and has approach and departure angles to humble a Toyota Land Cruiser. There are three separate differential locks too for peerless traction in slippery conditions, and a low-range transfer case for the seven-speed ‘box.

Add to all that the incredible reputation that the G-class has in 4x4 circles for unstoppable reliability and robustness, and if you regularly venture off the beaten track, you might just forgive the car its ‘characterful’ on-road ride and handling.

Should I buy one?

Whatever you do, don’t buy the G 350 Bluetec because you think it’s a luxury SUV; certain commercial vehicles are significantly more refined and comfortable. While a Range Rover is just about the most comfortable road car you can buy, this tester would rate a G-class as just about the least comfortable.

As a true go-anywhere offroader – now with added creature comforts – the G 350 has a place for those who can afford the premium. It’s certainly got character to burn and provides a real sense of occasion. But as an everyday road car, it’s both antiquated and compromised.

Mercedes-Benz G 350 Bluetec LWB

Price: £81,715; Top speed: 108mph; 0-62mph: 9.1sec; Economy: 25.2mpg; Co2: 295g/km; Kerbweight: 2575kg; Engine type, cc: V6, 2987cc, turbodiesel; Power: 208bhp at 3400rpm; Torque: 398lb ft at 1600 to 2400rpm; Gearbox: 7-spd auto

Join the debate


15 April 2011

Or you could buy a Defender which is just as capable off road, spend £20k on a posh luxury bespoke interior/upgrades and still have £30k in your pocket! :)

16 April 2011

It's very close to 1979 model as Autocar pointed out.

Despite this truth, you can see a lot of these in Montecarlo, always black and 55 AMG or Brabus, I don't why...maybe the price

16 April 2011

I absolutely love these & I've got one as a permanent fixture on my Euromillions shopping list. I know they are so expensive for what they are, but I just love the look of them. Not the most sensible purchase I know but hey neither is a yacht lol :D

currently a happy owner of a Mitsubishi Shogun Pinin :)

17 April 2011

[quote roverfan1984]I absolutely love these & I've got one as a permanent fixture on my Euromillions shopping list. I know they are so expensive for what they are, but I just love the look of them. Not the most sensible purchase I know but hey neither is a yacht lol :[/quote]

I know what you mean. This is the only 4x4 I have ever wanted, and I would definitel have on in my euromillions collection. It has the Alfa 8c effect on me (also in Euromillions collection), I know it is not really a great car, but it has so much character that I can forgive it any objective shortcomings.

19 April 2011

i honestly cant believe the price of these things it makes Range Rovers and Mercs own ML class seem good value if maybe less capable? i know which i would rather have though! a Porsche Cayenne (joking)


19 April 2011

Fabulous vehicle.

If you want the ultimate off roader to drive around your Scottish country estate this is it.Only a Unimog is more capable! Its the engineering you are paying for

This is a landowners vehicle, and any lack of finesse 'on road' is of no importance as purchasers would probably have other vehicles to cover long distance journeys.

Yes you could buy a Defender, but if ever a car was overpriced for what you get... badly built, dated, unreliable, uncomfortable. Its a mad price for a tractor.

I have also seen G Wagens walk all over standard defenders off road by the way.

One of the great pluses of the G Wagen is its longevity...20 years is a reasonable expectancy...doesnt look so excessive if you buy it to last.


19 April 2011

The biggest problem I see here is the price, 81.000 pounds is too much for a G with a 3.5 l engine

19 April 2011

Land Cruiser 70 in UN white courtesy of TGS. Give the remainder to charity.

20 April 2011

I think all you can say is are they having a laugh? Presumably yes, at the expense of the world's many wealthy fools.

At least it lays to rest any lingering doubts about the supreme sense of irony in the German sense of humour.

18 March 2013

It happens to be a universally popular car, no matter how innovative we become with our car designs we still can not deny the charm of classic cars. Cars could also help you lend out a helping hand through car donation programs.

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