A right-hand-drive Geländerwagen hasn’t been available in the UK since 2004, but come October it’ll be back. Sales will be through Mercedes-Benz World at Brooklands and the prices will reflect the largely hand-built nature of the beast: £79,975 for this ‘entry level’ G350 CDI.
In terms of NVH, outright performance and handling, a Range Rover TDV8 makes it feel like something from the Cretaceous period, but we already knew that, because the G-Wagen is very, very old. Then again, the 2987cc V6 turbodiesel motor is brand new, giving 221bhp and 399lb ft of torque. Mercedes claims 9.1sec for the 0-62mph sprint, which is perfectly adequate, and 109mph for the top speed, which is probably a little conservative, as I’ll explain in a minute.
Do not, under any circumstances, reject this thing as a cruel joke. For sheer rugged, hand-built charm, there isn’t anything in the SUV marketplace to match it. When North Korea sparks WWIII and the cockroaches finally die, all that will be left are G-Wagens. The doors clunk like a bank vault’s. Trim and build quality are exceptional, and full of pleasant idiosyncrasy too: this is a patchwork quilt of Mercedes bits from the past decade (I think the clocks are B-class), but it blends very well.
You sit a foot higher than in any other SUV, with those light repeaters marking the extremities of the bonnet. The steering is slow, the ladder chassis predictably a little cumbersome, but it grips well enough. Aerodynamics cause it problems at a high-speed cruise: fuel consumption falls drastically at 100mph.
The cabin is vast, as is the boot. All three differentials lock electronically, making it a known genius off-road, and in terms of charm I can’t think of anything truck-like I’d rather spend time in. Speaking of which, in three days I covered 2100 miles in this LHD version. It hit an indicated 121mph, but it also averaged 18mpg. Money no object, I’d love one.