Exclusive: 2016 Mercedes-Benz G500 First Drive

Mercedes-Benz G500 Rear Profile

It’s been pronounced dead several times, but the G-Wagen by Mercedes-Benz is more alive than ever. At the mature age of 36, it gets yet another refresh – a relatively minor one, as you wouldn’t “modify a Rembrandt painting,” correct? That’s how Gunnar Guthenke, Daimler’s head of G-Class, explained to us why the venerable off-roader receives almost no changes to its exterior. In fact, the only major revision happened in 1990. And those visual changes were kept to bumpers, lights, and decor.

Mercedes-Benz G500 Front

Mercedes-Benz G500 Front

The G-Wagen is the slimmest of any Mercedes-Benz cars, yet it is so tall and its styling so uncompromising that it makes any of its sister models look decidedly modest. By definition, its box-like shape allows for maximum space utilization, and indeed, the G offers generous accommodations. Visibility towards the front is excellent, while the view to the rear is somewhat hampered by the wide D-pillars – but this vehicle lets you know precisely where its four corners are.

Mercedes-Benz G500 Side Profile

Mercedes-Benz G500 Side Profile

The slim, narrow dashboard has visibly been carried over for decades, although it is graced with a variety of buttons, switches, dials and gages reflecting over 35 years of interior design and development. It needs careful study if you are ever to exploit the G-Wagen’s potential fully. If you do, three differential locks can be activated by the flick of a button. And, of course, the capabilities of this off-roader are simply astounding.

Mercedes-Benz G500 Interior

Mercedes-Benz G500 Interior

The most important changes happen under the hood. The G500 loses its naturally aspirated 5.5-liter V-8 – and gains a twin-turbocharged 4.0-liter V-8, essentially the same engine that powers the AMG GT. The biggest challenge for the development team? Preserving the awesome sound of the predecessor. After a day in the new model, we can confirm that they passed the test with flying colours. The new model sounds every bit as aggressive as its predecessor – and what’s more, it goes even better. While the previous model cranked out 382 horsepower and 530Nm of torque, the new model is rated at 416 horsepower and 610Nm.

Mercedes-Benz G500 V6 Engine

Mercedes-Benz G500 V6 Engine

The result? A 0-100 km/h time of just 5.9 seconds – and a top speed of a governed 209 km/h. Typically, we don’t care much for these governors, but in the G550, cutting power at 209 km/h is just fine, given its high centre of gravity and less-than-precise recirculating-ball-type steering. Consumption figures have not be

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