Mercedes' charm offensive: G-Class review

Browse pages
Current page

1

Current page

2

Current page

3

Current page

4

Current page

5

Current page

6

Current page

7

Current page

8

Current page

9

Current page

10

Current page

11

Current page

12

Current page

13

Current page

14

Current page

15

Current page

16

Current page

17

Current page

18

Current page

19

Current page

20

Current page

21

Current page

22

Current page

23

Current page

24

Current page

25

Current page

26

Current page

27

Current page

28

Current page

29

Current page

30

Current page

31

Current page

32

Current page

33

Current page

34

Current page

35

Current page

36

Current page

37

Current page

38

Current page

39

Current page

40

Current page

41

Current page

42

Current page

43

Current page

44

Current page

45

Current page

46

Current page

47

Current page

48

Current page

49

Current page

50

Current page

51

Current page

52

Current page

53

Current page

54

Current page

55

Current page

56

Current page

57

Current page

58

Current page

59

Current page

60

Current page

61

Current page

62

Current page

63

Current page

64

Current page

65

Current page

66

Current page

67

Current page

68

Current page

69

Current page

70

Current page

71

Current page

72

Current page

73

Current page

74

Current page

75

Current page

76

Current page

77

Current page

78

Current page

79

Current page

80

Current page

81

Current page

82

Current page

83

Current page

84

Current page

85

Current page

86

Current page

87

Current page

88

Current page

89

Current page

90

Current page

91

Current page

92

Current page

93

Current page

94

Current page

95

Current page

96

Current page

97

Current page

98

Current page

99

Current page

100

Current page

101

Current page

102

Current page

103

Current page

104

Current page

105

Current page

106

Current page

107

Current page

108

Current page

109

Current page

110

Current page

111

Current page

112

Current page

113

Current page

114

Current page

115

Current page

116

Current page

117

Current page

118

Current page

119

Current page

120

Current page

121

Current page

122

Current page

123

Current page

124

Current page

125

Current page

126

Current page

127

Current page

128

Current page

129

Current page

130

Current page

131

Current page

132

Current page

133

Current page

134

Current page

135

Current page

136

Current page

137

Current page

138

Current page

139

Current page

140

Current page

141

Current page

142

Current page

143

Current page

144

Current page

145

Current page

146

Current page

147

Current page

148

Current page

149

Current page

150

Current page

151

Current page

152

Current page

153

Current page

154

Current page

155

Current page

156

Current page

157

Current page

158

Current page

159

Current page

160

Current page

161

Current page

162

Current page

163

Current page

164

Current page

165

Current page

166

Current page

167

Current page

168

Current page

169

Current page

170

Current page

171

Current page

172

Current page

173

Current page

174

Current page

175

Current page

176

Current page

177

Current page

178

Current page

179

Current page

180

Current page

181

Current page

182

Current page

183

Current page

184

Current page

185

Current page

186

Current page

187

Current page

188

Current page

189

Current page

190

Current page

191

Current page

192

Current page

193

Current page

194

Current page

195

Current page

196

Current page

197

Current page

198

Current page

199

Current page

200

Current page

201

Current page

202

Current page

203

Current page

204

Current page

205

Current page

206

Current page

207

Current page

208

Current page

209

Current page

210

Current page

211

Current page

212

Current page

213

Current page

214

Current page

215

Current page

216

Current page

217

Current page

218

Current page

219

Current page

220

The old G-wagon’s quirks masked its shortcomings. Can the new one improve?

Earlier this year, for reasons that need not delay us here, I spent a few months blundering about in the old Mercedes-Benz G-wagon. It’s called the G-class by its creators, but it’s been the G-wagon to me for 40 years, so that’s how it’s going to stay.

The old car surprised me in two distinct ways: first, it was actually even worse than I had imagined. Save going off road, which it did so well as to actually remove a lot of the challenge, I can’t think of much at which it was even adequate. It didn’t ride, it didn’t handle and it wasn’t quiet. Staggeringly for such a large car, it wasn’t even that spacious. But what surprised me even more was how little I cared. It was a car to remind me that character makes up for a lot of technical shortcomings. The G-wagon oozes character.

So that was what I was most interested to learn about this G-wagon. How affected would the all-new one’s charm to ability ratio be?

New? It may not look it, but save for a handful of small components (sun visors, the tow hook and so on) it is new from one end of its blocky shape to the other.

Yet conceptually it remains old. Here’s a new car built by the world’s largest premium manufacturer whose board thought it a good idea that it should continue to be built on a ladder chassis, like a 19th century carriage. It should also continue to have a live rear axle and possess indicators that sit proud of the car despite the fact that modern legislation means millions had to be spent engineering them to descend into the car if hit by a pedestrian.

The major changes are that its chassis is over half as stiff again as the one it replaces, there’s double wishbone front suspension, rack and pinion steering and a 4-litre turbocharged V8 to replace the 5.5-litre supercharged V8 in the old G63. The interior is completely new with a perhaps too swish TFT instrument pack (if you can keep a ladder chassis, you’d have thought it could have kept analogue dials), but it boasts far more room, especially in the rear where it needed it most.

Any fears that the engine might be some kind of poor relation evaporate at the first press of the button. It is every bit as thunderous and, with 577bhp, more powerful. It endows the G63 with preposterous performance. And now it almost handles, too: certainly the alarming float and imprecision of the old car has gone so the steering wheel no longer feels like a rudder.

Most important are the improvements to comfort and noise levels: so long as you can put up with still atrocious fuel consumption, the G63 is now a relatively accomplished long-distance tourer, yet one that retains three fully mechanical locking differentials and a low ratio transfer box.

I’m happy to say this is a car of transformed ability, but happier still to report its charm remains undiminished. I just hope that Land Rover shows a similarly pure yet enlightened approach to replacing the Defender.

Mercedes-AMG G63 factfile

Price £143,405 
Engine 4.0 litres, 8 cylinders, turbocharged 
Power [email protected] 
Torque 626lb [email protected] 
Weight 2560kg 
Power to weight 225bhp per tonne 
Transmission nine-speed automatic, four-wheel drive 
0-62mph 4.5sec 
Top speed 137mph 
Economy 21.4mpg 
CO2 299g/km

You may also like

Related products