"Entry-level"is a subjective term when discussing Mercedes' off-road icon. Does the G400d deliver on ability and refinement?

What is it?

The enduring popularity of the Mercedes-Benz G-Class is rooted in its combination of incredible off-road rugged utility with extravagant luxury. Basically, it's the ideal choice should you desire a vehicle capable of traversing a post-apocalyptic wasteland that can give you a soothing back massage while doing so.

The second generation G-Class (or G-Wagon, should you prefer) launched in 2018 with the G350d and the range-topping, slightly bonkers Mercedes-AMG G 63. This new G400d effectively replaced the G350d in the UK line-up as the entry-level model in the range. Of course, entry-level is a relative term here: the G-Wagon's combination of luxury and capability comes at a price: the cheapest G400d will set you back £98,525, and our AMG Line Premium Plus test car costs £115,995. Still, that does usefully undercut the £153,995 starting price of the 577bhp G63.

We tested the G400d back in 2019 when the powertrain was yet to be confirmed for the UK market, but this is our first experience of it on UK roads. The diesel is a more heavily tuned version of the turbocharged 3.0-litre in line six-cylinder unit that the 350d uses. Using a multi-channel exhaust gas recirculation system and variable valve lift control, the G400d is tuned to offer 326bhp and 516lb ft of torque, up from the G350d's 282bhp and 443lb ft. 

What's it like?

The G350d offered really strong performance, but given the not-inconsiderable 2.5-tonne heft of the G-Class the extra power is welcome. The power delivery is impressively smooth and quiet at both low and high speeds, and the nine-speed automatic gearbox is excellently mated to the engine's power map. It's capable of a smooth, easy progress that belies the sheer size and mass of the car.

Not that you'll forget the G400d's sheer size when you're behind the wheel. This is, unapologetically, a big car, and one that some smaller British roads will struggle to contain. Thankfully, it's classic boxy design means that visibility is excellent, and a raft of Mercedes driver assistance features make driving it surprisingly easy.

We only had limited ability to test the G400d's off-road capability, but from our past G-Class experiences there's no doubt of its capability. The automatic box offers low-range gearing and three differential locks as standard, and the combination of ladder frame chassis, 20in wheels and advanced suspension (double wishbone at the front, multi-link at the rear) offers incredible capability.

Back to top

Once you've wrestled with the G400d's hefty doors to clamber inside, the cabin is a purely luxurious experience, especially in AMG Line Premium Plus guise. The excellent infotainment system and digital dashboard are a welcome dose of modern technology in the retro design, the interior trim feels absolutely worthy of a £100,000 car and the sound system is excellent.

Should I buy one?

The G400d is undoubtedly a machine of incredible capability and versatility, and one that truly blends utility and luxury into a hugely compelling package, albeit at a price. It feels special, and is a truly easy car to live with (although it might struggle to fit in your local supermarket car park). That said, there’s a relatively small pool of people who will truly exploit the G400d’s capability, and for multiple reasons those who won’t might want to consider looking elsewhere.

Still, if the nuclear apocalypse ever arrives, the G400d will allow you to experience it in true luxury. If Max Mad had driven a G instead of his V8 Interceptor, he might not have been so grumpy when he reached the Thunderdome.

Back to top

Join the debate

Add a comment…
TStag 14 September 2021
@289 There is a 1 year waiting list for the Defender, which is being made in much bigger volumes than the G Class. It’s not stolen sales off the Range Rover and it’s not a slavish copy of itself unlike the G Class which isn’t any better off road and costs twice as much.
Alexander Johnston 14 September 2021

My favourite car but looking forward to the Grenadier. 

eseaton 14 September 2021
Criticising this car is utterly pointless.

Lots of people love it, and that is all that matters.