Mercedes-Benz G-Class (2016) First Drive

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We attended the launch of the facelifted Mercedes-Benz G-Class in Frankfurt, Germany and took it off-roading in Austria. The legend continues!


 – Engines are tuned to deliver more power while consuming less fuel –  All-new 4.0-litre V8 biturbo engine from C63 (not for SA, sadly)  – Revised suspension and adaptive damping to increase comfort  – G350d and G63 coming to SA in 2016

The Mercedes-Benz G-Class is an icon and the product's design hasn't radically changed since the vehicle's debut back in 1979. With extraordinary off-road ability and go-anywhere attitude, the Mercedes-Benz G-Class has a big reputation among 4x4 enthusiasts.

What's New?

The new model is claimed to offer up to 16% more power and up to 17% less fuel consumption across the engine range. Currently the engine range starts with the diesel-powered G350d, then there's a new G500 with a 4.0-litre biturbo V8 engine, the (in)famous G63 AMG and finally for those wanting the ultimate; the V12 monster that is the G65 AMG. Of those Euro-6 compliant engines, South Africa is to receive the G350d and the G63 AMG. There's also a hardcore AMG Edition 463 which has some visual upgrades such as 21-inch matte black wheels, two-tone interior and carbon fibre trim to name but a few.

Engine Lineup

We drove the G350d on launch seeing as it's earmarked for South African introduction. Power is rated at 180kW with torque coming in at a properly powerful 600Nm. For those who care about being quick off the mark, the 0-100kph sprint is dispatched in 8.8s and it's claimed to return 9.9L/100km - not bad for what's essentially a heavy military vehicle in civilian clothing.

The G63 AMG packs a mighty 420kW and 760Nm, while the utterly bonkers G65 has 463kW and 1000Nm on tap. We're not getting the G65 though.

Improved ride comfort

Under the skin, there's an all-new suspension arrangement featuring an enhanced stability program (ESP) which is supposed to aid in on-road comfort. Mercedes-Benz claims the front-axle load capacity can now handle 1 550kg - useful when you're pushing hard on tough terrain. The car comes standard with 18-inch wheels fitted with chunky rubber. What impressed us most was how comfortable the G-Class was on the Autobahn at 130kph, with road noise being hardly noticeable, even with that upright windscreen. Swop the Autobahn for the infamous Schöeckl mountain trail in Austria with its insane angles and the G-Class feels remarkably calm and refined.

The Mercedes-Benz G-Class is one of the very few vehicles that's still handmade. It is manufactured in Graz, Austria at the Magna Steyr factory which also manufactures Peugeot RCZ sportscars as well as the MINI Countryman.

Step Inside

The cabin feels luxurious, unlike the G-Class of a decade ago which featured a cabin that could be hosed out without risk to the electronics. This modern cabin has all the toys you'd need such as satnav on an 11.4cm screen, automatic climate control, multi-function steering wheel to name but a few. The cabin also gains a new instrument cluster with redesigned dials. You also have the ability to change gears yourself manually using the M button to activate the mode, then use the steering-wheel mounted paddles.

Can It Go Offroad?

If you weren't aware of the Mercedes-Benz G-Class vehicle's offroad tech, how does permanent all-wheel drive, 7G-Tronic gearbox, three differential locks plus low range, and a ground clearance of 235mm grab you? Those diff locks can be engaged/disengaged while on the move by the way... The G-Class also features a 30-degree approach angle, a 30-degree departure angle and it can wade in water up to 60cm deep. In summary, if you wish to scale a mountain, this is vehicle you want.

Schoeckl Mountain Trail Video

Mercedes-Benz G-Class Price in South Africa

The price below includes 14% VAT, but excludes C02 emission tax.

G350d                               R1 418 000

G63 AMG                         R2 156 000

AMG G63 Edition 463    R2 156 000 (+ R152 000)