2012 Mercedes G-Class review

  • Luxury, old-school Mercedes 4x4
  • On sale now, priced from £82k
  • G350 and G63 AMG tested
Mercedes G-Class
Mercedes G-Class
The Mercedes G-Class is more than 30 years old, but the company is rather proud that the design has hardly changed since the car was launched in 1979.

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.

Mercedes G-Class

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.

Mercedes G-Class

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.

Mercedes G-Class

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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What Car? says…

By Iain Reid

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