MOTORING

In­spired by the 6x6, you can think of the G 500 4x42 as the more, er, man­age­able of the two. But the lit­tle brother is still a pre­pos­ter­ous ve­hi­cle, which is a good thing,

Friday - - Contents - says wheels’ Im­ran Ma­lik

The G 500 4x4² is one of the most out­ra­geous ve­hi­cles you’ll find on the road – just don’t try to squeeze it into a park­ing bay...

Four years ago, I rode as a pas­sen­ger in the G 63 AMG 6x6, eas­ily the most awe­some and ridicu­lous thing I’ve ever sat in. That 544bhp 5.5-litre AMG biturbo V8 six-wheeler boasted five dif­fer­en­tial locks, por­tal axles and weighed a colos­sal 3,850kg. It threw com­mon sense out of the win­dow, but com­ing at a time when ‘green cars’ were the or­der of the day (and still are) it was a breath of fresh air – even if its emis­sions weren’t. The mad as a hat­ter Benz was eas­ily the most po­lit­i­cally in­cor­rect ve­hi­cle on the road and around 100 were built be­tween 2013 to 2015, and then pro­duc­tion ceased. We all thought Mercedes had had its fun, but in­stead of con­sign­ing that mon­strous G-Wa­gen to the his­tory books, the Stuttgart car­maker went back to the draw­ing board and cre­ated this, the G 500 4x42. With mas­sive 325/55 tyres wrapped around 22in wheels, a ride height of over 2.2 me­tres, and mea­sur­ing 2.1 me­tres wide, this jug­ger­naut is sup­posed to be the more prac­ti­cal of the two…

Its car­toon­ish ground clear­ance of 450mm is more than twice that of the stan­dard G 500, and it’s 299mm wider than it too – but it does use the reg­u­lar Gelän­dewa­gen as the start­ing point, al­beit with a chas­sis that bor­rows heav­ily from 6x6. For in­stance, it packs dual strut spring and dam­per units (with ad­justable damp­ing con­trol and two modes – Com­fort and Sport) but the high­light is the com­plex axle ge­om­e­try. Like the 6x6, the 4x42 gets a set of por­tal axles that in­crease the ap­proach and de­par­ture an­gles from 36 and 27 de­grees to 52 and 54 re­spec­tively. Breakover an­gle goes from 21 to 47 de­grees and its ford­ing depth climbs 600mm to 1,000mm. Ba­si­cally, noth­ing can stop this Merc, it’ll just drive over ev­ery­thing.

But when chal­lenged with a quick stop at the gro­cery store, it floun­ders. So, when you’re out of milk, the 4x42 is prob­a­bly the last ve­hi­cle you’d want to take to the shops. It’d prob­a­bly be eas­ier to build it from scratch than to back it up be­tween two parked cars; judg­ing dis­tances re­quires a lot of blind faith (it has cam­eras and sen­sors but you sit so high up you can’t tell where the car­bon-fi­bre fen­der flares end). Even though it takes all your strength to climb into the leather and Al­can­tara-clad cabin – and then you lit­er­ally fall out of it when it’s time to exit – you can’t help but like what is with­out a doubt one of the most out­ra­geous ve­hi­cles you’ll find on the

road. It’s pumped up and pow­ered by an all-new 4.0-litre twin-turbo V8 mak­ing 422 horses and 610Nm of torque and takes the off-road abil­ity of the G-Class to an­other level al­to­gether.

It pushes the bound­aries of per­for­mance to new ex­tremes, some­thing you find out quickly when you ven­ture off the beaten track. It was de­signed to flat­ten rocks and dunes with aplomb, and it does.

The power is sent to all four wheels, per­ma­nently, via a re­worked ver­sion of Merc’s seven-speed au­to­matic com­plete with a sep­a­rate trans­fer case with three me­chan­i­cal dif­fer­en­tial locks that can be op­er­ated on the move. With that in­cred­i­ble ground clear­ance, wheel ar­tic­u­la­tion, and a host of dif­fer­en­tial lock com­bi­na­tions, noth­ing can hin­der your progress off road. It has more than enough torque to climb steep gra­di­ents, and it de­vours rocky paths as if it were a smooth black­top. It show­cases its mer­ci­less driv­ing dy­nam­ics in all con­di­tions and is quite the at­ten­tion­seeker – noth­ing quite shouts out ‘look at me’ more than this. Un­less you have the 6x6.

Up in the driv­ers’ seat, you have a com­mand­ing view – the other cars be­low look like toys and each and every one has its oc­cu­pants’ faces pressed against the win­dows star­ing up in amaze­ment as you roar past.

The ride is gen­er­ally com­pli­ant and it’s gen­uinely sur­pris­ing how it shoots off for the hori­zon when you work that twin-turbo. The low-end torque and snappy seven-speed pro­pel it with real force, but should some­thing this big be that fast?

Re­gard­less, it never gets tir­ing. With each prod of the throt­tle, the side pipes – every bit as ex­tro­vert as the 4x42 looks – come to life with a men­ac­ing growl and then qui­eten down when you’re cruis­ing. It’s too big, too tall and too heavy to be con­sid­ered sporty but is more fun than the stan­dard G 500. That used to be ‘mighty’ but comes across as tame and tiny in com­par­i­son.

The hy­drauli­cally op­er­ated steer­ing is rather vague and you have to push the brake pedal hard to bring it to a stop. This, along with its sheer di­men­sions and the dif­fi­culty of just get­ting in and out of it would put many off the 4X42. But it’s a ve­hi­cle that you just can’t help but like, purely be­cause of how out­ra­geous it is.

No­body needs this; you won’t want to drive it in a busy city cen­tre, or take it to the mall, or try to squeeze it into a park­ing bay at the lo­cal su­per­mar­ket, but it’s here – and it’s bril­liant.

‘Even though it takes all your STRENGTH to climb into the leather and Al­can­tara-clad cabin, you can’t help but LIKE what is with­out a doubt one of the most OUT­RA­GEOUS ve­hi­cles you’ll find on the road’

70

The G 500 4x4² is es­sen­tially the 6x6, but with­out the third axle or the au­to­matic tyre de­flat­ing and in­flat­ing party trick

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