Originally designed and developed for military use back in the late 1970s, the Mercedes-Benz G-Class was initially a heavy-duty four-wheel-drive conveyance. Today? It’s a completely different beast.
When it was introduced some 40 years ago, the Mercedes-Benz G-Class was intended for the military and, as such, always had a rather clunky and no-frills look about it. Known as a cross-country wagon or Geländewagen, the manufacturers have spent the past few decades upgrading this machine to provide a more civilian service and, in doing so, have added some luxury features and a more refined design. Despite the adaptations, some still find it looks and feels a bit too much like an armed forces truck, with its high road clearance and rather dubious space economy. Other criticisms leveled at the G-wagon have been its cumbersome handling and questionable fuel economy.
All About the Grunt
One of the longest-running produced by these manufacturers, it’s still in its first generation despite being in production for 35 years. This five-passenger SUV comes in a variety of trims, ranging from the base G550 model up to the G550 with its 4x4 trim. Driven by a 4.0-litre V8, the G550 produces nearly 420 horsepower and 450 lb.-ft. of torque. The next model up, the AMG G63, gets the benefits of a 5.5-litre V8, as well as including extras like performance-tuned suspension.
As we move up through the trims, so we get increasing amounts of power, with the AMG G65 which blasts away, generating over 620 horsepower and more than 735 lb.-ft. of torque. The 4x4 keeps the 4.0-litre engine but has been adapted for an improved off-road experience. All models have a seven-speed automatic transmission, with a two-speed transfer case and a full-time four-wheel-drive system.
The Personalization Side of Things
All trim levels come fully loaded with many of the luxury items that have become synonymous with most modern Mercedes vehicles, including a reliable navigation system, keyless ignition and entry, heated leather seats and adaptive cruise control. A far-reaching list of customizable options enables buyers to create a vehicle that suits their personal requirements and taste. Then again, when properly outfitted the G-Class can shine off-road, giving you reliable competence regardless of the terrain. The only limits are the driver’s bravery.While a little awkward, the luxurious interior makes up for the rather utilitarian controls, while the quality of both the materials and finish is becoming for such a prestigious vehicle.
Whether influenced or deterred by the G-Class’ rather boxy appearance, lack of practicality and military origins, many upscale buyers consider it as something of a status symbol, combining as it does the tough practicality of a truck with a luxurious interior. While the majority of G-Class owners will never go off-roading, the vehicle’s ready and waiting with every possible feature that will make it cruise over a muddy field as effortlessly as it gobbles up the highway.
A Long History About to End
Although the Mercedes-Benz G-Class has been around for nearly 40 years, the latest models have been designed to incorporate many of the most cutting-edge features aimed at safety and convenience. These include parking assist, adaptive cruise control, a navigation system and blind-spot monitoring. Fully redesigned for the 2019 model year to commemorate the end of a very long production run, a few special-edition models will be available complete with limited cosmetic touches inside and out. Overall, the G-Class is its own, very unique and special SUV and is a worthy investment as such.