2012 Mercedes G-Class review
This revised version of the luxury off-roader gets LED daytime running lights, an upgraded stability control system and a redesigned dashboard, which incorporates Mercedes' latest Comand infotainment system.
What’s the 2012 Mercedes G-Class like to drive?
There are two G-Class models – the G350 V6 diesel and the G63 V8 petrol. A lack of power is not an issue for either, but acceleration in the G63 is particularly awesome; you feel you should be in a low-slung sports car, not a 2.5-tonne 4x4, when 0-62mph disappears in just 5.4 seconds.
Go around a corner at speed, though, and you'll definitely know you're not in a sports car. The G-Class leans over dramatically, and although the steering is full of feel, you have to work hard to turn the wheel.
The G-Class is designed to traverse mountains, but on your average British A-road you're bounced around, even on a straight stretch. It also feels like a very big, wide and cumbersome car in town.
Both engines come with a slick-shifting seven-speed automatic gearbox and are generally refined. True, the AMG engine becomes loud when you floor the accelerator, but it's not a noise you'll get sick of.
Road noise is more of an issue, due to the G-Class's big chunky tyres, while the bluff, upright windscreen generates a lot of wind noise at speed.
The G-Class doesn't have the electronic off-road trickery you'll find in an M-Class or Range Rover. Instead, it gets a low-gear mode and three buttons on the dashboard that switch on and off the front, centre and rear differential locks. Don't mistake simplicity for a lack of capability, however. The G-Glass can ford water 60cm deep, ease up 80% slopes and tackle difficult descents without locking the wheels.
What's the 2012 Mercedes G-Class like inside?
The interior is reminiscent of any high-end Mercedes, which means the dashboard is well ordered and easy to use, if a little uninspiring.
Where it differs is that the gearlever is mounted on the centre console rather than the steering column, and there's a traditional handbrake instead of the footbrake or push-button brake that you find in other Mercs.
The seats and steering wheel are electrically adjustable, making it easy to get them exactly where you want.
The G-Class is a five-seater - if you want seven seats in your Mercedes off-roader, you'll need to go for the GL-Class – but each occupant has plenty of leg-, head- and shoulder-room.
The boot has a 480-litre capacity with the rear seats up and 2250 with them down, which makes it smaller than the boot in a Range Rover.
Leather seats come as standard, but as in any Mercedes, you can go to town on the options. Our G63 AMG test car came with two-tone black leather with stitched red leather inlays, which cost the best part of £4000. This is a car you can customise.
Should I buy one?
No. The G63 AMG costs £123,115, before you start speccing it up. This is where we would normally say go for the sensible diesel option, but the G350 is £82,945.
Running costs are similarly steep. The diesel averages 25.2mpg and emits 295g/km of CO2, while the G63 will struggle to average 20mpg and it emits 322g/km.
Sure, it's powerful, but the car looks and drives like something from the last century. It is undeniably rugged, has presence and comes with a luxurious interior, but a Range Rover feels like a much more modern car.
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By Iain Reid