As a European grown up in a narrow street in one of Europe's 16th century inner-cities I consider everything over the size of a BMW X3 a big truck. So you can imagine when I first came eye-to-eye with the Mercedes-Benz G500 4x4² show car I was a little impressed, no, frightened of the thought to drive this monster over narrow Spanish roads and mountain passes to a Mercedes-Benz off-road testing facility near Granada.
The Mercedes-Benz G500 4x4² uses the same portal axles as the 6x6, minus one axle. Its new V8 is derived from the 4.0 AMG V8 found in the new AMG GT and the suspension is taken straight from rally sport. The ideal ingredients for a car that nobody needs but everybody wants?
As I took over the wheel from the Mercedes-Benz G-Class test driver on the outskirts of Malaga the first challenge is getting behind the wheel. The portal axles raised the height of the G500 4x4² by 24 cm compared to a normal G500 making the climbing in- and out of the car an event on its own.
Starting the engine the V8 comes to live with a loud vroommm followed by a constant humming. I pull the gear lever of the automatic gearbox into D and press the accelerator to set the car in motion. At nearly 3 tonnes you feel you are pulling weight under acceleration. But once it goes its unstoppable. Heavy winds along the Spanish coast beat into the square G-class but it stays surprisingly stable. Only when you back off the throttle and let it sail the wind starts to get a grip on the G.
It doesn't take long until the navigation system sends instructions to leave the highway and head up into the mountains. Even with the suspension set in Comfort mode the G500 4x4² corners astonishingly well, I dare to say you can go through most bends 10 mph faster than a regular G-wagon. This is largely due to the wider track that measures over 2 meters.
But the real supremacy of the G500 4x4² is still to show. In Granada a special off-road track is waiting for us. The track is ideal for the G500 4x4², or better said, only drivable with the new 4x4². Other G-classes and trucks lack the ground clearance to drive over some of the rocks that litter the terrain. The G 63 6x6 would be too long to make the turn at the end of what our Mercedes-Benz test driver refers to as 'the jungle'.
Before we set off into the unknown the wheels are changed. The 22 inch road wheels are swapped for 18 inch beadlock wheels that are so robust you can even drive with 0.0 pressure and don't have to worry about the tire coming off the rim.
With the wheels mounted we head down into an dried up river bed and drive over tree trunks, rocks in all forms and shapes and tracks of various depth. It feels so easy in the 4x4², but a normal G500 in our convoy has to take a detour because it can't overcome most obstacles. The dried river bed slowly turns to mud and before we know it we are in the jungle. A day earlier this was nothing more than a small river in a narrow valley with dense vegetation. Today we are driving through it as if it was made for the 4x4².
At the end we have to make a u-turn and dive into 50 cm deep water. But I don't have to worry about wet feet, the car can wade through up to 1 m of water without a problem. Back through the jungle I leave the river and head up to a hill that looks as if we landed on a distant planet with huge rocks and only few trees.
Time and time again I can't believe the car can go up steep ascents or over rocks but not a single time do I scrape the protective underguard on the front or rear. Going down in low range I don't need to touch the brakes once. It almost feels as if the 4x4² walks down the hill stepping from stone to stone in the same way I imagine the Mars Rover does it.
My initial fear for the monster has made way for confidence. Confidence in the invulnerability, the indestructibility of the G500 4x4²! It can handle approaches of up to 52 degrees, drive up hills with an incline of 100% and at the same time drive up to 210 km/h on the road. Yes, I want one!
The G-Class has remained virtually unchanged since its first introduction in 1979 and that is a true strength but also its only weakness; Tall people have to compromise on leg space.
At this point the Mercedes-Benz G500 4x4² is a show car but with positive customer feedback it will almost certainly go in production. The first customer cars could be ready as soon as mid 2016. If it goes into production expect it to retail for quite a bit less as the G 63 6x6 AMG that is officially sold out since last month.
Image/Video via GTspirit.com. Des is founder and chief editor of GTspirit.com and reviews exotic and luxury cars on a daily basis.