Having spent a weekend with the ‘rather nutty’ Mercedes-Benz G500 4×4, Bassam considers a model unlike anything else on sale today, and wonders why more manufacturers aren’t giving it a go
As the bar continues to be raised by the world’s car manufacturers, there is a clear convergence in the direction that everything is heading. When you compare what’s out there, you start to find that there are far more similarities than there are differences. The latest supercars might have variances in character, styling and handling traits, but in many ways they are the same. The latest Ferrari, McLaren or Lamborghini all operate at an extremely high level, so we start to delve into the minutiae to differentiate them, but in reality they are all pretty similar. You can apply the same reasoning across all other genres, whether it be hot hatches or luxury saloons, the manufacturers have gotten so good at what they do that most of them offer pretty much the same experience. Most of them, but thankfully not all of them.
It’s not everyday you come across something truly unusual, but that’s exactly what happened earlier when this month I got to spend a weekend with the rather nutty Mercedes-Benz G500 4×42 (full story available HERE). If you’re not familiar with this behemoth, it’s essentially a Mercedes G-Wagen on stilts, and there really isn’t anything else like it on sale today. Considering that it started out as a luxury SUV, a genre known for its practicality and comfort, it’s quite amusing that the 4×42 is possibly the most irrational car I’ve ever driven. The G is a bit of an eccentric car to begin with, given that it’s essentially a utilitarian box on wheels dressed up to make it more upscale. Meanwhile the 4×42 treatment has taken an already quirky car and added Bjork levels of weirdness. Swing open the doors and there is suede, leather and carbon fibre everywhere, but that’s not enough to disguise the shocking lack of space inside this behemoth. The seating position is so upright, it makes the rearward-facing seats of a London taxi feel like recliners, while my knees sit close to my chest due to the proximity of the steering wheel. On the highway the barn-door aerodynamics create so much wind noise you’d think you were driving into a hurricane, while the suspension is so bouncy it feels like I’m on the back of a rodeo bull.
Obviously my descriptions are a bit exaggerated but I think that’s only fitting for this caricature of a car. Oh, and did I forget to mention you can’t go anywhere in it? At 2.25 metres, it’s too tall to enter any covered parking lots. I find it rather ironic that a car meant to be unstoppable by any terrain can’t make it into the multi-story at the mall.
If you’ve mistaken any of the above for negativity, please don’t, as I actually love the 4×42. It absolutely oozes personality and pressing the Sport button – yes it’s got one – and hustling this monster truck through a series of bends at surprising speeds is one of the great motoring experiences. For a serious German manufacturer, Mercedes has shown it has an excellent sense of humour. In a world where everything is becoming much the same, Stuttgart should be saluted for daring to be different.