Home / Home / Mercedes-Benz G 350 d Road Test Review – Conquer All

 

The behemoth but more sensible Geländewagen, the G 350 d, came to our part of town and, with the terrible weather and road conditions, it couldn’t have come at a better time.

Mercedes G 350 d

Story: Jim Gorde
Photography: Sanjay Raikar

Born in tough times and raised in times even tougher, the Geländewagen or all-terrain vehicle ― G-Wagen for short ― has become an icon in the enviable stable of Mercedes-Benz car models. From the 250 GD diesel-powered German army workhorse to an all-conquering behemoth on wheels, the G-Class has done it all. It’s a proper SUV. In a world where over-inflated hatchbacks with strap-on parts are identifying as SUVs, the term has now been reduced to simply a body-style where form takes precedence over almost all function; save for an inch higher ride height, maybe. The G 350 d is a premium luxury off-road icon, nothing less. Its timeless design has been frozen solid since the Iron Age, seemingly, and there’s no reason not to persist — there are fans the world over and, thanks to its cult following, it’s still selling strong.

Built in the Styrian capital of Graz, the G-Wagen has been endowed, over the decades, with virtues many others can only dream of. Nothing blends luxury with capability and pretty much a block design with a rich character that — with equal disregard for terrain and opinion — simply fits in anywhere and in any situation. True to its traits.

Mercedes G 350 d

This G 350 d is the new model — yes, a lot of it is very new, almost bespoke — and it’s finally available in diesel guise here in India. This one is equipped with the new Night Package magno, thanks to G manufaktur offering additional accents in black, while the matte magno paint finish further accentuates its unique identity; it truly looks like nothing else on the road.

Mercedes G 350 d

The interior, too, has been updated with a new layout and a whole list of new equipment. Most evident are the dual wide displays, steering wheel, dashboard, and the updated instrument display. The twin screens bring in the new MBUX, or Mercedes-Benz User Experience, interface with smoother touch or voice control capabilities.

The AMG G 63 is one thing, but I, for one, was looking forward to driving this G 350 d diesel — more torque low-down, lower CO2 and NOx, and just cleaner overall, with a torque peaking at 1,200 rpm. Yes, the 2,925-cc in-line six-cylinder turbo-diesel engine produces 286 hp and 600 Nm. Power peaks at just 3,400 rpm and stays strong till 4,600, although the beautifully balanced crank never really needs to spin that hard. Most of the driving on the road was handled at between 1,200 and 1,600 rpm; the latter for overtaking with a minor flex of my little toe. The drive is handled by a 9G-Tronic nine-speed torque converter automatic driving a transaxle that distributes it in a rear-biased 40:60 split.

Mercedes G 350 d

The G 350 d is more than adept off-road and can handle more than several cars’ fair share of rough stuff in one go, one after another, and not need a breather; unless there’s a lake involved and a snorkel for the air intake is called for. The ground clearance is 241 millimetres and the generous approach and departure angles make short work of tackling terrain. There are three differential locks — front, centre and rear — for the more hardcore off-roaders taking it to places other “SUV” owners won’t even think possible. They keep things in line and pointing straight in the most challenging situations.

Mercedes G 350 d

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Mercedes G 350 d

It’s daunting, at first, I don’t disagree. But after I was done surveying the surroundings and devising the path to point it at, feeding in the power at an odd angle, with the G 350 d tilted left, right front wheel in the air, windscreen full of blue sky, is an unnerving feeling. Until, of course, the left rear plops, gives a little wiggle and mini-slide as it digs in and finds the spot, hooks in and starts to trundle forward with unbelievable ease, simply going about its business as usual. As it begins to roll forward, there’s a see-saw moment and the front right finds footing, digs in, and makes its way forward. These aren’t off-road tyres, mind you ― the AMG Line 20-inch wheels with 275/50s find traction in places I’d never have imagined they would. It’s all fun and frolic after that. Confidence builds and I’m raring to try new challenges and seemingly insurmountable odds that will be taken care of by the potent low-revving diesel power, the low-range multiplying the torque into a crawl that easily rivals a toddler hell-bent on conquering new lands on all fours the first time they get a feel for four-point traction.

Mercedes G 350 d

There’s no real car-buying logic applicable. You buy a G-Wagen because you want a G-Wagen. It’s that simple. It’s not a brain-based choice as much as one from the heart. If the significant other argues, it’s as good as driving a safe on wheels that can seat five and carry family luggage with ease, with the most enormous speed-breakers and car-breaking potholes not even worthy of a second glance. Its composure is as commendable as its weight is evident. Seated high, waves of torque on tap, and what looks like a de-badged AMG flat-bottom steering wheel with modern controls, all make the world and the chaos outside seem trivial. Trucks and buses notice you and give way, purely out of fear; especially when it’s covered in mud until the rear windows on a B-road heading back into town.

Mercedes G 350 d

The new engine is also extremely efficient and meets modern emission norms; one that’s designed to comply with future norms, including RDE or Real-world Driving Emissions. All relevant components for emission reduction are installed for faster and maximum effectiveness of the catalytic converter and the DPF (diesel particulate filter). The combustion process is aided by high-pressure direct injection with a multi-path EGR (exhaust gas recirculation) making for better fuel economy and significantly lower emissions. Furthermore, the stepped-bowl combustion process, two-stage exhaust turbocharging, and variable valve timing help heat up the exhaust system without increasing fuel consumption. This, together with the proximity of the set-up to the engine, insulated for low heat loss, provide ideal operating temperatures for the emission control system which uses SCR (Selective Catalytic Reduction) and an Ammonia Slip Catalyst. It’s a clean car. Before I forget, the G 350 d returns 12 kilometres to the litre on the open road (in “Eco” mode) and about eight everywhere else. This matches the rated WLTP figures, too. The cycle CO2 is listed as up to 288 g/km. This is partially down to the integrated “Gliding” mode that disengages the transmission clutch for friction-free coasting.

The G 350 d can do a nine-second sprint from zero to 100. Yes, there is a “Sport” drive mode, too. Its 2.5-tonne bulk means it’s not going to impress under braking, but behaved very composed when stopping from 80 km/h to zero in 34 metres and taking less than three seconds to do it! The G 350 d has a very float-y ride all the time, thanks to the air suspension, and it feels posh. The cabin is well-appointed and the finish is excellent. It surprises with its capability across all surfaces and, at Rs 1.50 crore (ex-showroom, base) plus another 10-odd per cent for the “magno” paint and “Night Pack”, it’s far from cheap. But for those who truly want it ― and not a Wrangler, Defender or even a Range Rover Sport ― it’s here for the taking. I’ll wrap up with a line from Behemoth’s track “Conquer All” — “I am many! Among so very few”.

Mercedes G 350 d

Schöckl Proven?

Barrelling down a mountain at 70 km/h with no real road in sight is part of the test that the G-Wagen goes through fresh out of its creation at Graz in Austria. Don’t let the road tyres fool you; it’s far more capable than many give it credit for at first glance. The ride height, low-range mode, individual differential locks, the approach, breakover and departure angles, and the wading depth — should the need arise — all contribute to its impeccable form, poise and performance across pretty much all surfaces.

Ground Clearance: 241 mm
Approach Angle: 31°
Ramp Breakover Angle: 26°
Departure Angle: 30°
Side Slope Angle: 35°
Wading Depth: 700 mm


 

 

About the author: Jim Gorde

 

Automotive Correspondent at Car India and Bike India.
Believes that learning never stops.,and that diesel plug-in hybrids are the only feasible future.
t: @CarIndia/@BikeIndia
IG: @carindia_mag/@bikeindia

 

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