FULL-TIME 4X4 AND TRIPLE DIFF LOCKS IN A BARE-BONES FOUR-SEAT WAGON

4 x 4 Australia - - Driven -

MERCEDES-BENZ’S iconic G-wa­gen was de­vel­oped more than 40 years ago to trans­port mil­i­taries across the deserts of North Africa and the Mid­dle East, so it’s only fit­ting that when a new vari­ant ar­rived in Aus­tralia, Benz chose to take it to the desert. De­spite a much-pub­li­cised 2011 ex­pe­di­tion on the Can­ning Stock Route, where failed shock ab­sorbers brought the me­dia con­voy to a halt, Benz has been brave enough to do it again, this time choos­ing an east-to-west cross­ing of the Simpson Desert.

The new vari­ant is the G300 CDI Pro­fes­sional wagon, which joins the cabchas­sis vari­ant as the work­horse mod­els in the G range. The G-pro wagon uses the same 3.0-litre diesel V6 en­gine, five-speed au­to­matic trans­mis­sion, full-time 4x4 and triple dif­flocked driv­e­line as the cab-chas­sis, in a bare­bones four-seat, five-door wagon.

The desert con­voy in­cluded three G300 wag­ons and two cab-chas­sis vari­ants, as well as two left-hand drive G500 wag­ons be­long­ing to ex­plorer Mike Horn, who joined us to make this trip. Driv­ers came from me­dia out­lets around the world, most of whom had never even been to Aus­tralia be­fore, let alone vis­ited

the re­mote and rugged ter­rain of the Out­back.

As the con­voy filed out of Birdsville the new­bies were given a bap­tism of sand as we hit Big Red, the big­gest of the 1100-odd sand dunes, that marks the east­ern edge of the Simpson. With tyre pres­sure dropped, they soon learned the ca­pa­bil­i­ties of the ve­hi­cles and the work­ings of the low-range trans­mis­sion and dif­fer­en­tial locks. G-wa­gen ex­pert and fac­tory test driver Er­win Wonisch was on hand to help with the in-the-field train­ing, and it wasn’t long be­fore every­one was an ex­pert and we ven­tured far­ther west.

The new ex­pe­ri­ences for the in­ter­na­tional con­tin­gent con­tin­ued when the sun went down, as they rolled out swags for the first time and spent their first night un­der the stars, where the Milky Way shines brighter than any­where else.

The ad­ven­ture took three days to reach Dal­housie Springs via The QAA Line, French Line, Poep­pel Cor­ner, Knolls Track and the WAA

WITH ITS LONGER WHEEL­BASE, THE CAB-CHAS­SIS RIDES BET­TER AND AMBLED OVER DUNES

Line. The Gs took on the dunes with ease and ate up the flat­ter track sec­tions. The loaded cab-chas­sis felt the best in the rough stuff, while the bel­low­ing V8s of the G500s sounded killer as they roared up the dunes.

Af­ter a warm swim and quick shower at Dal­housie, the trip broke north to ex­plore the his­tory of Old An­dado Sta­tion and be re­galed around the camp­fire by care­taker Cobby Bob’s bush po­etry. Mount Dare to Finke and some rocky pri­vate prop­erty tracks near Mount Oo­raminna showed the Out­back in a vastly dif­fer­ent light to the sandy deserts of the days previous, but the jewel in the crown lay ahead as the jour­ney was com­pleted un­der the mas­sive rock domes of Uluru – Kata Tjuta.

The seven G-wagens cov­ered more than 3000 Out­back kilo­me­tres (when you in­clude the drive to Birdsville from the east coast) with­out a fault – and all shock ab­sorbers worked as they should, to the re­lief

THE SEVEN G-WAGENS COV­ERED MORE THAN 3000 OUT­BACK KM WITH­OUT A FAULT

of the Mercedes-benz Aus­tralia team. The G-pro 461 ve­hi­cles use a heav­ier duty oil-filled shock ab­sorber rather than the gas-filled AMG shocks on the 463 Gs that failed on the Can­ning, and these are ob­vi­ously bet­ter suited to the pun­ish­ing Aus­tralian ter­rain. The tor­tur­ous ter­rain didn’t even claim a tyre on this trip, as the Pro­fes­sion­als are all fit­ted with BF Goodrich all­ter­rain tyres on 16-inch al­loy wheels as standard.

It’s this standard equip­ment, along with its sim­ple and pure de­sign, that makes the G-pro­fes­sional the ob­vi­ous choice for ex­pe­di­tion work like this desert trip. While they may miss out on the lux­ury fea­tures of the 463 mod­els, the Pro­fes­sion­als have the gear you re­ally need for re­mote-area tour­ing.

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