Getting into the G-Class will mean climbing up for all but the very tallest of drivers, but thankfully the car’s standard-fit running boards-cum-steps perform a double function.
Once you’re in, although you might expect to find limited head room having risen to such altitude, you really don’t. Mercedes’ improvements to interior passenger space, which have allegedly added almost 70mm to elbow room up front and 150mm to second-row leg room, do tell; and so a car that didn’t quite measure up before on proper luxury SUV passenger space now absolutely does.
While other markets offer the G-Class without digital instruments, Mercedes’ UK distributor includes both its Comand Online infotainment system and its twin 12.3in digital instrument screen as standard – and it spreads out behind the button-busy steering wheel in a way that may seem alien to anyone familiar with the decades-old simplicity that this car used to represent. The instrument display itself is adaptable and clear, however, and the usability of the infotainment set-up is made particularly creditable by the sheer choice of ways in which you can input to and interact with it.
You can use the central touchpad, the haptic scroller or the steering wheel pads. Most testers could achieve simple processes using the steering wheel pads, while the car’s voice-recognition system is also consistently good.
The car has smartphone integration for Apple and Android handsets as standard. Opt for Mercedes’ premium pack and you also get its 16-speaker Burmester surround audio system, which has 590W of power, and certainly won’t disappoint hip-hop fans drawn to the G-Class for its music video star quality.
Aside from the newly ritzy suite of digital technology, the features given star billing by the interior design are the matt chrome air vents; the quartic speaker grilles (which reference the shape and positioning of the front indicator repeaters); and the three individual diff lock switches in the middle of the fascia.
The switches’ prominence seems to vastly overplay their importance given how infrequently you might press them, but their function seems so integral to the character of the G-Class that they deserve no less.
The car’s perceived quality, as manifest in the tactile richness of Mercedes’ palette of materials and they way they’re fitted together, is very slightly below the best you might hope for in a modern, £100,000 luxury car – but it’s by so narrow a margin that many would be unlikely to notice it. The one obstacle to the car’s practicality, meanwhile, is its side-hinged boot door, which, allowing for the bulky spare wheel it carries, can be too large to swing open in a tight parking space. Not that you would regularly seek out one of those for a car this size.