SHED: 2017 MERCEDES-BENZ G300 PRO

WE GIVE THE G300 A BREAK FROM THE RIGOURS OF OFF-ROAD­ING.

4 x 4 Australia - - Contents -

WE’VE driven it to the High Coun­try Alps, the Simp­son Desert dunes and across the stony tracks of out­back NSW, and the G300 Pro­fes­sional has proven ca­pa­ble and de­pend­able in the harsh­est ter­rain and con­di­tions. But what’s it like to live with around town?

Off-road­ing forms only part of our driv­ing life and we have to en­dure work and city-life to al­low us to get out bush, and, de­spite its four-decades-old com­mer­cial ve­hi­cle de­sign, the G-wa­gen is an easy truck to com­mute with in the suburbs. That old de­sign in­cludes the G’s slab-sid­ed­ness, the large, flat glasshouse and its up­right seat­ing po­si­tion, which all com­bine to make the G-wa­gen easy to ma­noeu­vre around town, with plenty of vis­i­bil­ity around the car. The mas­sive turn­ing cir­cle and rel­a­tively heavy power steer­ing don’t help, but you get used to them and make al­lowances for the turn­ing ra­dius. The G-wa­gen may look big but that’s just an il­lu­sion, as it cov­ers a smaller foot­print than any of the mod­ern dual-cab utes and most full-size 4x4 wag­ons – plus it’s eas­ier to park than most other mod­ern ve­hi­cles due to its great vis­i­bil­ity.

The in­te­rior is Spar­tan by any stan­dard, and you miss some of the mod­ern crea­ture com­forts when in town – Blue­tooth phone con­nec­tion, a mod­ern au­dio sys­tem and power win­dows would all be ap­pre­ci­ated in a ve­hi­cle that costs $120K – but when it comes to the crunch, the G doesn’t lack any­thing es­sen­tial for an off-road ve­hi­cle.

The mod­est per­for­mance of the 3.0litre diesel en­gine and five-speed auto combo is ad­e­quate around town, but you need to al­low for a bit of turbo lag when pulling out into traf­fic. We noted last month that the G Pro sucks down the diesel when trav­el­ling at 110km/h on the high­way, but that set­tles down in town to around 13.5L/100km – still

high by mod­ern stan­dards, but aero­dy­nam­ics wasn’t on top of the agenda when the G was penned back in the 1970s.

As our three months with the G Pro­fes­sional draw to a close, we reckon it will be a dif­fi­cult ve­hi­cle to re­place in our shed. Four-wheel drives like this are few and far be­tween – we also had a Land Cruiser 79 be­fore the Merc – and there’s noth­ing else avail­able new that will de­liver the char­ac­ter and feel of an au­then­tic off-road ve­hi­cle. The his­tory of a four-decades-old de­sign and the bul­let­proof tough­ness of the G-wagon make it one of the few new 4x4s that never fails to make me smile when I drive it, de­spite its short­com­ings.

There is a new G-wa­gen com­ing in 2018 which will host some of the big­gest changes to the iconic model in its 39-year his­tory. Let’s hope it lives up to the leg­end.

4x4 of 40 years ONE LAST trip for the G-pro took it back to the Bar­rier Ranges near Bro­ken Hill as part of our an­nual 4x4 Of The Year test. Could a four­decades-old 4x4 win the ti­tle?

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