(135kW/400Nm) turns a fivespeed automatic.
The permanent 4WD shifts on the fly between high and lowranges at up to 70km/h with the transmission in neutral. The centre diff splits torque 50-50 front and rear and all diffs can be quickly locked and unlocked.
There are driver and passenger airbags plus the basic electronic safety aids..
We didn’t drive the G-Pro on bitumen so we can’t comment on its road manners, or its behaviour under maximum load. However, we gave it a solid workout at the Melbourne 4x4 Training and Proving Ground, empty or carrying 500kg — apart from a slightly harsher ride unladen, there was no discernible difference in offroad performance.
Our test included deep water fording (maximum depth is 650mm) as well as steep, rutted climbs and some sharp man- made dirt ramps that were nearly 45 degrees in places.
The 245mm of ground clearance made light work of obstacles, with responsive steering and minimal kickback. The coil-spring suspension worked superbly with ample wheel travel and excellent ride quality (with the half-tonne aboard, given the suspension is designed to take four times that).
Acute climbs and descents presented no problems, given the impressive angles: approach 38 degrees, departure 35 degrees and ramp-over 22 degrees.
The proven turbo diesel is smooth, refined and torquey if a little noisy, which is understandable given the cabin’s metal surfaces and lack of sound-absorbing trim.
Three large push buttons on the centre console operate the diffs and as usual the centre diff must be locked first. In demanding off-road conditions a driver can quickly adapt to this sequence for maximum performance by engaging and disengaging the diff locks to best suit each obstacle.
With the three diffs locked, the G-Pro displayed an almost arrogant “you call that a hill?” climbing ability. In first gear and at a constant 2000rpm, it steadily ascended a long, steep, deeply rutted and rock-strewn section that would stop lesser vehicles in their tracks, and with barely a hint of wheel-spin.
The maker expects to sell about 200 examples of the cab chassis a year. In mid-2017, a shorter wheelbase G-Professional wagon will follow.
A dedicated core of specialist buyers will see the worth of the cab chassis variant — it can lug more than two tonnes and to its impressive off-road cred it adds military-grade toughness.
FOR the brave types in our services there can be no compromise in vehicles they take on perilous operations, so the Australian Defence Force is a big fan of the Mercedes-Benz G-Professional military range. The first “civilian” version of the...