The Auto Trader expert verdict: ★★★★★ ★★★★★ 3.6
The G-Class is the Mercedes that seemingly can’t be killed off, its appeal to rappers and premiership footballers signaling its return to the UK. Possibly the coolest off-roader on sale, the G-Class is unstoppable off-road, yet it’s well made and has equipment to match an S-Class.
Reasons to buy
- Boxy styling
- Old-school Mercedes build quality
- Great off-road
At a glance
- How good does it look? ★★★★★ ★★★★★
- What's the interior like? ★★★★★ ★★★★★
- How practical is it? ★★★★★ ★★★★★
- What's it like to drive? ★★★★★ ★★★★★
- How powerful is it? ★★★★★ ★★★★★
- How much will it cost me? ★★★★★ ★★★★★
- How reliable is it? ★★★★★ ★★★★★
- How safe is it? ★★★★★ ★★★★★
- How much equipment do I get? ★★★★★ ★★★★★
- Why buy? ★★★★★ ★★★★★
How good does it look?
Originally designed for the military over 30 years ago alongside the Land Rover Defender, the Mercedes G-Class has to be one of the most identifiable off-roaders on sale. The boxy, angular styling may have come before the era of aerodynamics but the overall look is Tonka-Toy tough.
What's the interior like?
From the inside, you’d be hard pressed to tell this design was over 30 years old. Okay, so the dashboard design, steering wheel and switchgear don’t look quite as modern as an M-Class but it all feels well made and the controls are simple to use. Despite the dark interior trim and leather, the upright design and big windows make the G-Class’s interior feel airy and spacious. Sadly, the controls for the air conditioning and the COMAND navigation system are too far down the dash, almost hidden behind the gearlever.
How practical is it?
You climb in the G-Class and as such it has an excellent, elevated driving position. The tall shape means there’s plenty of headroom and the seats are comfortable and supportive. Taller rear passengers might find rear legroom more of a problem, but the 480-litre boot is huge and is a practical shape despite a bit of wheel arch intrusion. The rear seat does fold flat to increase space to 2250 litres, but it’s a heavy fiddly process. Sadly, the old design means that overall visibility is disappointing. The thick roof pillars make manoeuvres a bit of chore and whilst rear park distance control is fitted as standard, you’ll moan about the externally-mounted spare wheel and how small the rear window is.
What's it like to drive?
The mechanicals might be modern, but the G-Class feels definitely old school to drive. The combination of 18-inch alloy wheels and Panhard rod suspension make for an unsettling ride on typical UK roads. This isn’t helped by woefully imprecise power steering, which can make the G-Class feel much bigger than it is. A similarly priced, range-topping Range Rover Autobiography is much easier and more modern to drive.
How powerful is it?
There’s a choice of petrol and diesel power available, but there are just three engines. The range starts with the entry-level G300 CDI Professional, there’s the more sensible G350 CDi BlueTEC and the mad 500bhp, 5.4-litre V8 G55 AMG. Our car had the 207bhp, 2.9-litre turbo-diesel with the BlueTEC system that reduces harmful NOx emissions by around 50 per cent. Overall, the G350 CDi feels quick in spite of how heavy it is (3,200kg). The top speed is 108mph, with the dash to 62mph taking 9.1 seconds.
How much will it cost me?
The G350 CDi might be fitted with a modern BlueTEC equipped turbo-diesel, but the weight and boxy styling mean that it’s capable of just 25.2mpg on the Combined Cycle and Co2 figures of 295g/km are high too. Mercedes parts and servicing costs are not cheap either.
How reliable is it?
The G-Class might be an old car, but it’s hand-built and feels far more solid than most modern Mercedes models on sale. The G-Class should prove to be both reliable and dependable.
How safe is it?
The G-Class comes from a time before crash tests, but it feels tougher than most rivals. All cars have electronic brakeforce distribution, stability control and front, side and curtain airbags.
How much equipment do I get?
All G-Class models are well-equipped with alloy wheels, air conditioning, a leather-trimmed steering wheel, leather dashboard, leather trim, heating and cooling front seats, alarm, COMAND multimedia system with 4GB hard-drive, bi-xenon lights and an 11-speaker Harman Kardon stereo. Extras include rear DVD screens, a heated steering wheel and a TV tuner.
The G-Class can’t really be judged alongside modern off-roaders. However, if you can afford it, there really is nothing like it and the fact it’s still on sale after 30 years is impressive.