‘TUFF TRUCK’ FROM MERCEDES
There’s been a lot of fuss lately about the new Mercedes X- Class ute. But did you know the German company already makes a ute – and a ‘tuff truck’ one at that, says Damien O’Carroll.
There are those out there who question the wisdom of Mercedes-Benz building a ute. “Meecedes-Benz is a manufacturer of luxury cars!” they cry, “What do they know about building a tough and rugged workhorse?” And while, on the surface, that argument holds water, you don’t really have to know all that much about the German manufacturer to know that, of all companies, Mercedes knows tough and rugged. Tucked away in its long history of building trucks, vans and buses is a vehicle called the G-Class, more commonly known as the G-Wagen. As the readers of this publication will well know, this is a vehicle celebrated the world over for its supreme abilities and remarkable durability, and it is used by governments, militaries and corporations around the globe in the most inhospitable conditions known to man. Or, in other words, the epitome of “tough and rugged”. While, these days, the G-Wagen is more common in its luxury, uber-performance specification AMG G 63 guise ( more than 60 percent of its production numbers are G 63s), particularly in New Zealand, it can never be forgotten that the G-Wagen is still a serious, utilitarian workhorse. And, as if to prove that point, MercedesBenz New Zealand have released a rather special version of the G-Wagen – the G 350d Professional. The G 350d Professional is the result of MB Australia lobbying head office long and hard to get a vehicle that – in literally every other market in the world – has only been made available to governments and militaries. Yep, that’s right, Australia and New Zealand are the only two markets that an ordinary bloke can walk into a showroom and buy this heavy-duty, military-spec 4WD. But you DO pay a premium for that privilege; at $129,900 the G 350d is a hefty $ 54,000 more than the single cab chassis Toyota Land Cruiser 70 Series, but then you are buying an essentially hand-built vehicle for that money – the G 350d’s chassis is made from sheetsteel sections – up to 4mm in thickness – held together with more than 6,400 manual welds. The G 350d Professional is powered by a three-litre turbodiesel V6 engine, hooked up to a five-speed automatic transmission ( something the Land Cruiser doesn’t offer), permanently driving all four wheels. In between these four wheels are three lockable differentials.