The Mercedes G-Class is The Simpsons of cars– built on great bones, but surviving so long it’s evolved into a caricature of itself. Well wallow no more hardcore G-fans: the 2017 G350d Professional is wiping the slate clean (and muddy) and starting over. The G just got great again.
The G-Class, G-Wagen or “gelandewagen” (German for, essentially, “cross-country vehicle”) was introduced in the 1970s with almost the exact same look that it runs today. Sometimes when it comes to styling, “uncreative” is also the most enduring.
Unlike many other modern SUVs, today’s current G is also still true to its rugged roots with a robust frame, locking differentials, solid axles and abundant ground clearance.
In Europe and other markets you can still buy a “regular” G with basic appointments. Here in the United States, we only get the overwrought chrome-clad perversions with enormous skunkworks engines and ill-fitting sport tires.
Then of course there’s the pseudo-militarized six-wheeled pickup, the G63 AMG 6x6 AMG, and the ostentatious-but-freakishly-capable G500 4x4². Amazing machines, but as ridiculously impractical as they are off-road ready.
Mercedes has finally recognized the gap in their lineup for a truly rugged off-road adventure/work rig with exceptional Benz build quality but without the blingbloat of infotainment screens, leather seats you can’t stain or rims you can’t scratch.
Meet the Mercedes G350d Professional, which is essentially what the G was always meant to be.
A modest 3.0 liter diesel V6 from the Mercedes lineup has been juiced slightly to 245 horsepower and a healthy 443 lb-ft of torque that burps out low and long in the rev range; between 1,600 and 2,400 RPM.
That’s hooked up to Merc’s smooth 7G-TRONIC PLUS seven-speed automatic which runs through three locking differentials; a G-Class hallmark. Those allow the truck to lock its front wheels, rear wheels, and/or all four wheels together insuring power is put down evenly as opposed to the wheel with least resistance. And that lets the truck press forward when traction gets especially bad.
But the G350d Professional will be able to go a lot deeper than other G’s without using all those cogs by virtue of its true off-road tires fitted to simple 16" rims.
In the press release Mercedes says “fuel consumption has been reduced by 15.4 percent to 9.9 liters per 100 kilometers, which Expedition Portal translated to “about 24 MPG.” They also say the G350d Professional will run hand-wind windows. One less thing to break!
With a 0 to 60 MPH time of around 9 seconds and a top speed of 100 MPH, this G won’t be keeping up with its V8 and V12 powered siblings tuned by AMG. Until the road actually gets rough.
The G350d Professional has a little 10 millimeter (~.4 inch) lift that boosts ground clearance to a respectable 245mm (~10 inches.) Approach and departure angles are 36 degrees and 39 degrees respectively with a breakover of 24 degrees.
Water fording depth is just under 2 feet. (600 millimeters or 23.622 inches to be exact.)
But the G350d Professional’s coolest features are in the loadout. Seats are cloth, floors are coated in anti-slip material and include drain plugs for easy cleaning, the wooden cargo floor is a perfect representation of functional beauty and I just might say the same for the roof-rack-and-ladder kit.
There’s no dumb dash-mounted iPad infotainment screen or aero-kit bumper, but the options list does include a winch and running boards.
Cages around the lights and subtle colors like Desert Sand and China Blue confirm the styling as “rakish adventure” as opposed to a U.S. G’s usual “Hollywood dingus.” That blue, by the way, is an actual homage to “Otto” which Gunther Holtorf and his wife famously put more than half a million miles on exploring the world.
You can start your own amazing G adventure in one of these things as soon as September 2016, when the G350d Professional officially goes on sale in for €79,968 or about $90,000. Since that includes Germany’s tax, it might wash out to more like $75,000 outside Europe. If Mercedes is kind enough to export it stateside, for which there are “no plans” yet.
$90,000 feels like a lot of money for anything, but look at the rest of the 4x4 market. It’s twice as much as a Jeep Wrangler Unlimited Rubicon. and you can’t tell me it’s not twice as cool.
I think the “value play” for an off-roadable G here in the U.S. is probably to buy an older G500 and swap the leather for cloth or have a 25-year-old diesel model legally imported. That said, the G350d Professional just topped my list for current-year dream cars.
Want more pics? Okay, fine. Me too.