No other 4x4 can offer this mix of grit and glamour
- Go-anywhere off-road ability
- Good to drive on road too
- Indestructible quality
- Generous equipment spec
- Very expensive
- Only 585hp AMG for now
- Profligate running costs
- A little ostentatious!
The Mercedes-Benz G-Class is the toughest, muddiest Merc you can buy today. It’s a proper 4x4 from the old school – as capable off road as anything from Land Rover or Jeep, but the new model launching in summer 2018 adds a welcome degree of polish to make it more viable as a daily driver on road too.
Don’t mistake this for a lifestyle crossover. The latest Mercedes G-Class – sometimes also referred to as the G-Wagen – is an altogether more serious off-roader and comes equipped with some proper mud-scrambling hardware to boot. The trio of go-anywhere differential locks (for better traction), low-range transfer gearbox (for scaling 1:1 mountains) and separate, ladder-frame chassis (a tougher foundation for off-roading) are all indications this is no mere posing machine.
Sadly, all that technical complication also means it’s a very expensive car. The G 63 AMG driven here is the only model available at launch in the UK and costs an eye-watering £143,000. The UK distributor is considering adding the cheaper G 500 non-AMG model in future, and a less profligate diesel G-Class is confirmed for UK sale in summer 2019.
Until then, you’ll need deep pockets to run a G-Class. No wonder it’s seen as an alternative purchase to a supercar in a rich person’s dream garage – if you’re thinking of buying one, you should also consider Bentley's Bentayga, Porsche Cayenne or Range Rover for outright performance and polish, or maybe a Toyota Land Cruiser for proper off-road creds.
Mercedes-Benz G-Class: the tough choice
You only need to look at the perpendicular styling to realise the G does things a little differently. That bluff, upright styling makes this 4x4 stand out from the crowd and also contributes to a very roomy cabin. Where the last-generation G-Class was surprisingly cramped, the new one is bigger in all key dimensions, making it roomy enough for two full-sized adults in either row of seats.
With no third-row seating available, this car is a five-seater. The boot is a decent size, but just remember there’s a side-hinged tailgate which is very heavy owing to the full-sized spare wheel bolted to the door. Thankfully, the new G-Wagen has a clever strut system which now holds the tailgate open, so you can open it and not worry it may slam shut on you in a gust of wind.
Just one engine: the G 63 AMG
Buyers considering a G-Class have a very simple shopping list: there is only one engine available for Brits: the top-dog G 63 AMG model. That means a 4.0-litre bi-turbo V8 sending a dizzying 585hp and 850Nm of pulling power to all four wheels. It is not a slow car.
Performance has to be felt to be believed: not many 4x4s can scurry from 0-62mph in just 4.5sec – it’s as quick as many Porsches, and there’s a wonderfully rich, baritone V8 soundtrack to accompany the warp-speed acceleration.
The penalty is poor economy: Mercedes-Benz quotes just shy of 22mpg on the combined fuel efficiency cycle, but a more realistic figure is likely to plummet low into the teens. Visits to the forecourt will be frequent and expensive.
Read on for the full lowdown on how the G-Class drives. We detail the ride and handling – and its extraordinary off-road ability – in our detailed analysis lower down this page.
The Parkers Verdict
The Mercedes-Benz G-Class is one of a kind: an iconic, halo 4x4 that sits imperiously at the top of the firm's off-roading family tree. Few cars at any price can match its mud-plugging abilities, but the latest model is now a decent drive on road too. Pity it costs so much money.