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First drive: Mercedes-Benz G 350 d. Image by Mercedes-Benz.

First drive: Mercedes-Benz G 350 d
The diesel G-Wagen comes of age in the impressive new Mercedes-Benz G 350 d 4x4.

 



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Mercedes-Benz G 350 d

4.5 4.5 4.5 4.5 4.5

We've always had a soft spot for the Mercedes G-Wagen and, while the big 4x4 hasn't been a rational purchase for decades, it still carved out a (large and very square) niche for itself in amongst the hordes of high-end modern SUVs. Now there's a new one. Not only that, but the G 350 d model could almost be called a sensible option.

Test Car Specifications

Model tested: Mercedes-Benz G 350 d
Engine: 3.0-litre straight-six turbocharged diesel
Transmission: nine-speed automatic, four-wheel drive
Body style: five-door, five-seat 4x4
CO2 emissions: from 253g/km (VED Band 226-255: £1,760 in year one)
Combined economy: from 29.4mpg
Top speed: 112mph
0-62mph: 7.4 seconds
Power: 286hp at 3,400-4,600rpm
Torque: 600Nm at 1,200-3,200rpm
Boot space: 667-1,941 litres

What's this?

The sensible G-Class, obviously. To date, the only version of the new Mercedes G-Class (née G-Wagen) that has been launched in the UK is the fire-spitting Mercedes-AMG G 63. In fairness, the AMG cars have taken the lion's share of G-Class sales in recent years, so it made sense to lead with that one. But now, it's time to stop laughing (585hp!) and take a serious look at the new G 350 d.

As the name suggests, this G-Class shares its 3.0-litre straight-six engine with the Mercedes S 350 d. It's nigh-on identical in terms of performance, putting out 286hp and a very useful 600Nm of torque from just 1,200rpm. The barndoor inspired aerodynamics of the G-Class, however, limit it to 123mph. That diesel engine is bolted to the Mercedes nine-speed auto, driving all four wheels with three driver-selectable differential locks.

Those are accessed via a slick centre console, which resides in a new cabin that mixes new and old. The previous G-Class is not forgotten, thanks to a large passenger grab handle on the dashboard and upright seating front and rear, but the excellent MBUX infotainment system is also present and correct and, just as importantly, there's considerably more room on board than before. That's especially the case in the rear seats, though we do love how Mercedes has retained the old car's distinctive door-closing 'clunk'.

At the time of writing, pricing for the G 350 d is not available, but it will be a useful chunk of change less than Mercedes askes for the G 63, which retails at £140,520.

How does it drive?

Surprisingly well, in short. The straight-six diesel engine and nine-speed transmission are quite familiar to us from their other installations - and as smooth and impressive as ever (perhaps with a little more noise on the move than in the S-Class). The G 350 d never feels outright fast, but it accelerates with acceptable gusto when you put your foot all the way down and response improves when you turn the Dynamic Select switch around to Sport. It feels far more natural to leave the car in Comfort mode though, where it deals with most road surfaces in a competent manner and isn't quite the wallowing mess in corners that you might expect such a tall and heavy vehicle to be.

Indeed, start taking liberties on a twisty downhill section and you'll discover that the body control is very good, the steering is acceptably direct (if free of anything in the way of communication) and the brakes are easy to smoothly modulate. You won't make your passengers uncomfortable, basically, even if you can sense the laws of physics working against the car. Obviously, there are many more accomplished SUVs on the market when it comes to attacking an interesting road.

But that's not the role of the G-Class and never has been. However, while this car's predecessor sacrificed on-road composure and ability for astounding off-road proficiency, this one puts in a better-than-average performance on the road, while still promising to go further off the beaten path than most buyers will ever need.

Oh, and it's an absolute hoot to slide around on packed snow with winter tyres fitted...

Verdict

Money no object, we'd have a loud and brash Mercedes-AMG G 63 in our collection, but now that the core G-Class is an accomplished and modern alternative to other premium-badged SUVs, the diesel variant may find more homes than ever before. It'll be relatively expensive to buy and run, it isn't the most spacious SUV in the world, but it comes with serious off-road credentials and well, just look at it.

4.5 4.5 4.5 4.5 4.5 Exterior Design

4.5 4.5 4.5 4.5 4.5 Interior Ambience

4 4 4 4 4 Passenger Space

4 4 4 4 4 Luggage Space

4 4 4 4 4 Safety

4 4 4 4 4 Comfort

3.5 3.5 3.5 3.5 3.5 Driving Dynamics

4.5 4.5 4.5 4.5 4.5 Powertrain


Shane O' Donoghue - 18 Dec 2018









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2019 Mercedes G 350 d. Image by Mercedes-Benz.2019 Mercedes G 350 d. Image by Mercedes-Benz.2019 Mercedes G 350 d. Image by Mercedes-Benz.2019 Mercedes G 350 d. Image by Mercedes-Benz.2019 Mercedes G 350 d. Image by Mercedes-Benz.

2019 Mercedes G 350 d. Image by Mercedes-Benz.2019 Mercedes G 350 d. Image by Mercedes-Benz.2019 Mercedes G 350 d. Image by Mercedes-Benz.2019 Mercedes G 350 d. Image by Mercedes-Benz.2019 Mercedes G 350 d. Image by Mercedes-Benz.








 

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