BUYERS GUIDE
MERCEDES-BENZ G-CLASS
Large Wagons

The Gelandewagen was originally planned as a German Army vehicle, displacing the VW Iltis and the first civilian version was produced way back in 1979. M-B has had three prior goes at selling the G-Wagon in Australia, with the new models showing the flag as a backdrop to the Australian Army’s purchase of 1200 4WD and 6WD G-Wagons.

Mercedes-Benz GelandewagenIt’s not clear to us what Mercedes-Benz was thinking when it decided to re-introduce the Gelandewagen to the Australian 4WD market in 2010.

The company’s two previous efforts in the 1980s and 1990s proved unsuccessful and the two 2010 models were at stratospheric price levels.

The ‘base’ G350 vehicle post-2010 was powered by M-B’s aluminium-block BlueTEC, 3.0-litre V6 diesel, with 155kW and 540Nm, driving through a seven-speed, 7G-TRONIC automatic transmission to coil-sprung live axles front and rear with full-time 4WD.

Diff locks were fitted to the transfer case differential and both drive axles. The price: $161,680 ($163,900 in 2016), or around twice what you would have paid for a Land Rover Discovery 4, kitted to similar equipment levels.

But there was more: the G55 AMG version, powered by a 5.4-litre petrol V8 with 373kW and 700Nm – was yours for a mere $217,230 ($233,900 in 2016)!

For that pricing the post-2010 G-Wagon needed to offer something spectacularly different from the large-wagon competition, but the ‘new’ machines rolled on 18-20-inch wheels, with street-style, low-profile rubber, so they were hardly aimed at the affluent grazier market, nor were they Range Rover market contenders, because the G-Wagon’s chassis dynamics were years out of date.

We drove the previous-model AMG version in Germany a few years back and the flat-faced G-Wagon felt really weird at over 200km/h on the autobahn – it was no high-speed cruiser.

Until September 2017 that's how the model range Down Under stayed and buyers kept away in their thousands.

 

The 2017 effort

M-B's fourth attempt to sell the ancient Gelandwagen must have been prompted by the Australian Army’s recent purchase of 1200 4WD and 6WD G-Wagons.

Australia is the only market in the world to receive the G 300 CDI Professional Wagon and Cab Chassis models for civilian purchase, but the Army contract conditions forbid the sale of civilian 6x6 versions.

The G 300 CDI Professional Wagon is powered by the same six-cylinder, turbocharged diesel, derated to 135kW and 400Nm, coupled to a five-speed automatic and permanent all-wheel-drive with a 50:50 torque split.

It comes standard with three differential locks that are selectable on the move, as well as a 'roo bar, snorkel and 16-inch black aluminium wheels. Other standard kit includes includes a 96-litre fuel tank, two 12-volt batteries, tyre pressure monitoring, air filter restriction warning, fog lights, brake pad wear indicator for the front axle, headlight and indicator stone guards, and radiator and oil sump shields.

Safety systems include driver and front passenger SRS airbags, anti-lock braking, Brake Assist and Electronic Stability Program (selectable on/off). The Wagon has four seats, with walk-through access to the luggage compartment.

Towing capacity is 3,140kg.

List pricing is $109,900, plus on-road costs, so we reckon you can kiss 120 grand goodbye, by the time you keep your local 'Benz dealer well fed.

The $9900-option PUR pack adds a walk-on bonnet, electric door mirrors, a roof rack, heat-insulated tinted glass behind the B-pillar, side running boards, a towbar, headlamp cleaning system, heated leather seats and a radio/CD player.

Both models can specify the Winch Preparation Package ($1700 Wagon/$1500 Cab Chassis MRLP) 

The walk-on bonnet option ($1900) and heated seats ($900 ) can be separately selected, as can tinted rear windows ($700) and a wire mesh partition behind the rear seats ($1200).

 

Previous Models 

There are a few of the earlier marketing efforts in the used-4WD market, but not many come up for sale. The early-model, naturally-aspirated, three-litre diesel was a slug, but the 1990s petrol-engined versions went well – especially the three-door models. 

Bush Modifications

The previous-generation G-Wagon came out of the box bush-ready and didn’t need much added kit. Because only a few were sold after-market manufacturers didn’t tool up to produce much gear for the G-Wagon.



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