Finally, the iconic Mercedes-Benz G-Class, also known as the G-Wagen, has arrived at the AutoAdvisor offices. Developed as a military vehicle for the Shah of Iran, the luxury SUV has been around since 1979. Fast forward to 2021, and Mercedes recently revealed their latest iteration of the Austrian-made behemoth, the G400d ‘Stronger Than Time.’ Even though it received a complete redesign three years ago, it still remains true to its heritage with boxy styling and body-on-frame construction. After a brief flirtation behind the wheel, we’ve finally got it on test.
Quite simply, you cannot mistake the G-Class for anything else - its distinct character and rugged, robust styling quickly convey the message to those in doubt. Our test unit, finished in an attractive Emerald Green paint scheme, looked the part too. At the front, single multi-beam headlamps with daytime running lights and a blacked-out grille lead the way. An homage to the original, the G still features the exposed hinges and boxy red taillamps (now LED), giving it that recognisable shape. Our test unit also featured stylish 20-inch black multi-spoke alloy wheels, finishing off the aggressive look given by the standard AMG trim.
Open the large, clunky doors and you’ll hear another G-Wagon trademark - the distinct clicking sound of the solid doors, adding to the overall experience. Step inside and the rugged theme continues. Not rugged in a sparse and barren way, as the typical Mercedes-Benz luxuries are to be found all across the plush cabin. Brushed aluminium and wood grain finishes give a modern feel throughout the cabin, but carbon fibre can be optioned if you prefer something a bit sportier. The electrically-operated (heated and cooled, too) seats are exceptionally comfortable, trimmed in the finest Nappa leather with double stitching. The cabin oozes luxury, the high-quality materials noticeable everywhere. Rear occupants have plenty of legroom, and have the added benefit of heated seats too.
Performance & Off-Road
Flat out, the 2.5 ton SUV will spring from 0-100 km/h in just 6.4 seconds. Under the square bonnet sits the much-loved 3.0-litre turbodiesel engine also used in the GLE and GLS. The 400d develops 243 kW and 700 Nm of torque - perfectly adequate to haul this big tank around with minimal effort. Power gets sent to all four wheels via the 9G-tronic automatic gearbox, and delivery is smooth courtesy of the permanent 4Matic all-wheel drive system. The diesel is mightily impressive, offering excellent fuel economy.
The G-Wagon is an extremely capable 4x4 - one of the best in the world, in fact. Once engaged in low range, the SUV adapts and becomes an off-roading machine. Thanks to three fully-locking differentials and a solid rear axle, it feels right at home on any terrain. Despite the remarkable off-road prowess, the G-Class still offers exceptional luxury - not many SUVs are capable of wearing both hats so effectively.
Safety and Tech
The G400d is as sold as they come, with safety being a top priority for Mercedes-Benz. Euro NCAP gave the G400d a five-star rating, scoring 90% for adult protection and 83% for children. Additionally, the big G also receives a plethora of tech advancements, including a Driving Assist Package, the Parking Package with the 360-degree camera, Active Multi-function seats and the Interior Plus Package. The cabin is an incredibly classy place to be.
After driving both the G63 and G400d, we can say, without a doubt, that the diesel is the one you want. The Stronger than Time edition boasts all the Mercedes-Benz creature comforts one would hope for while offering a welcomed balance between performance and efficiency.
The G-Class also holds its value, and resale is strong. At R2 874 000, it’s not cheap, but it’s as premium as they come.