Mercedes original off-road icon has been
This is the
But to really get a sense of how different this new G is, you need to step inside. As you attempt to climb into the car you expect an A-Pillar grab handle to help you get in but there is isn’t one, and as a
The command drive position is unchanged and imperial. There is a clear sense of occasion in here with Designo quilted door inserts, diamond stitched seats, soft nappa leather everywhere and changing ambient lightning. It is a very modern and high-quality interior. The air-cooled seats are very comfortable although I struggled to find lumbar support buttons around the seat or on the door, oh wait, this ain’t your dad’s G class… This is in fact managed via the infotainment menu and once you dive into the Active Multicontour Seat menu you can control active side bolsters that keep you in place in tight corners and… aah… massage seats… these alone are worth the price of admission with close to a dozen massage modes to choose from.
Older G classes always suffered from compromised interior space, but with an additional 3.8 cm added to the front, and a whopping 15 cm at the back, the new G Class interior is roomier, and the packaging is significantly more appealing for passengers of all sizes. The rear seats also recline and with those massive windows, low door ledge, climate control and plenty of storage, it is a very airy and comfortable place to be. The seats fold flat, so you can fit more in the boot. The rear door swings sideways, but luxury continues in the back with a quilted door insert and a boot liner to keep this clean when hauling luggage. Great touch
It is not however a 7-seater, you’ll have to stick with the GLS for that.
Press the start button, and the legendary G sound invades the cabin. A loud ignition boom that settles into a bassy burble. Is this a G500 or a G63? No wonder I feel this way, the G500 shares the same 4.0 liter turbocharged engine with its G63 sibling, but “detuned” to produce 416 horsepower and 450 lb-ft of torque. This is orders of magnitude more than the measly 70HP the G offered back in 1979! And it feels like it. Feeling smug, I pull away only to get startled by the door lock sounds which feels like a 50 Cal sniper rifle just got reloaded in my ear. Stay humble.
With the bonnet rising, gaining velocity in a large SUV is always a profound experience. Despite the +2.5 tons this thing goes! Surprisingly on the highway there’s a bit more wind noise than I would have expected in this reworked G Class. But it doesn’t matter, because I find myself looking for excuses to slow-down and accelerate just so that I can listen to the hovercraft sound of the engine and enjoy the elastic powerband. Because of the high and upright driving position it feels faster than the claimed 5.5 seconds 0-100 km/hr. At low RPM there is some turbo lag but once you hit 1,500 rpm, you are catapulted forward. Geez, how much quicker can the new G63 be?
AMG was involved in the development of both the G500 and G63, and it shows. The car still dives, sways and squats like a speedboat, and breaking at high speeds remains a nerve-racking experience requiring bulky right thigh muscles (it does have auto-emergency breaking), but this is a much improved ride experience. Mercedes has cut down 150 kg in weight with the hood, doors and fenders in Aluminum. That along with the independent double wishbone front suspensions means that the handling has improved and there is less leaning into corners. The trade-off is stiffer suspensions but regardless the setup is compliant and composed. Entering quickly into a roundabout will still run the car wide but its predisposition is benign, and the car quickly finds its line.
You don’t hold onto this car like you did with the old wobbly one, you DRIVE the new G500.
This is still a thirsty car though. As I am driving I can literally see the fuel gauge empty up before my very eyes, and while there is an eco-mode, who are we kidding, who would buy this car and drive
it in eco-mode. Me, I only drive in Sport mode which makes it angrier, sharpens the shifts and throttle response, and enhances the sound of the side exhausts.
The G’s offroad credentials have not been compromised. Ground clearance is 25 cm with approach, departure, and break-over angles of 30.9, 29.9, and 26.0 degrees respectively. It also maintains its tradermark 3 locking differentials for mighty traction. I didn’t get the opportunity to venture off-road but the expectation is that it will be as mighty as its predecessor
In this new age of politically correct electric vehicles, the Mercedes G500 shouldn’t make sense at all but to me it makes all the sense in the world. Despite being modernized it remains a unique car and I love it to the point that I am already dealing with separation anxiety.