0-62mph 4.5 seconds
Top speed 137mph
Looking across the street to where I’ve parked a whopping Mercedes G-Class, I watch a short scene unfold, which sends me plunging down memory lane. A little boy is walking to school with his mum. His younger sister is thrashing around in her pushchair like a netted salmon. Suddenly, they all stop. The boy has spotted the emerald green G-Wagon lurking across the road. His mum patiently wheels the buggy across to it and then, slowly, they inch around the car – the boy’s mouth gapes with incredulity. His toy car has been reborn as a colossal giant. At one point he delicately lays his hand on its immense flank – as if he’s touching a sleeping tyrannosaurus. He’s mesmerised by the car’s size and promise of power. It’s exactly what I would have done… Scratch that, it’s exactly what I did do a few days earlier, when I collected the car. If machines get you, they always will. And there are few with more emotional traction than the G-Wagon.
This barnstormer takes quasi-industrial styling and military machismo to nose-bleeding levels. It is to regular 4x4s what Rambo is to reiki. It was introduced in 1979, which makes it Mercedes’s longest-serving model. It’s also the only one to have no specified “end of production” in the diary. Add to that a list of movie credits as muscular as Sly Stallone’s career (it’s the vehicle of choice for bad guys in everything from The Bourne Supremacy to the Die Hard franchise), and the fact it’s a favourite among celebrities (Kylie Jenner, Britney Spears, Kim Kardashian, Hilary Duff, Diane Keaton and Floyd Mayweather among many others all use one) and you’ll see why the G-Wagon is very much here to stay.
This latest upgrade represents the most significant step-change the G-Class has ever undergone. But don’t panic… Mercedes knows when it is on to a winner, so everything that’s been improved is underneath its metal skin, while the car’s mien has been left well alone. Thus you still have push-button doors, a flat windscreen, bonnet-mounted indicators, exposed hinges and a front grille that’s as aerodynamic as a breeze block. Not features you would normally expect in a car that costs £146,000 – I think my 20-year-old Fiat Panda boasted most of these things, but that’s the price of becoming a motoring icon.
Once you step up and into the G-Class, you’ll soon start to appreciate other improvements. It still exudes a slight sense of the farm, but now a vastly more opulent one.
It’s large, comfortable and commanding. It’s also very willing to do a job of work – whether on- or off-road. At slow speeds it’s biddable and direct. It’s equally at home plodding through traffic or along a muddy track. What truly sets the G-Wagon apart is the sheer class of its engine. It’s an astonishing brute and yet also spellbindingly smooth. The big, beating heart of the beast is, in the case of this model, the G63, a 4-litre twin-turbo V8. Top speed is 137mph, though it’s the 0-62mph in 4.5 seconds that bulges the eyes. You can choose from several drive modes, including Comfort, Sport and Sport+. Comfort is more than enough. Way more than enough.
I popped across the street and asked the small boy if he’d like to climb in and “start her up”. He gleefully accepted… feet dangling, finger hesitating over the ignition, then the omnipotent roar of the engine. Start saving now, little guy.
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