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Thread: Test Drove a G-Wagen

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    Test Drove a G-Wagen

    Got a phone call from the local Mercedes dealership yesterday to let me know that they had a G-Wagen on the floor. "Is it the diesel?" I asked - of course. Why would they have a $220K AMG one sitting about?

    After my morning meetings I thought why not - so I popped in for a tyre-kick and test drive.

    Firstly - here's a pic (from the interweb, not one of mine) just to keep the "must be pics" crowd happy...


    Anyhoo - I turned up and had a good sticky-beak before a salesman came over. I don't know what kind of customer he thought I was but he must have attempted to profile me as he walked across the room and just plain got it wrong. "Look at this bad boy..." he said - I presume he was referring to the car and not me. He then proceeded to show me the engine (didn't know where the bonnet catch was) and the in-car entertainment system before I barraged him with more meaningful questions concerning ground clearance, towing capacity, cargo area, suspension etc etc.

    The sales manager moved the vehicle out of the showroom and we went for a drive... and here are my impressions, specifically compared to the Defender...

    Engine - what engine. It is probably the least diesel sounding diesel I've heard. It in fact sounds like a rough running petrol engine. Once you get inside it's like stepping into the cone of silence. They might as well be TV screens placed all around the car simply showing you pictures of what's outside. When you stab the throttle however, you remember it is a diesel, and modestly sized one at that (2.9l). It is a 7 speed automatic that moves up through the gears smoothly but does get a bit violent when kicking down.

    The driving position is probably the single most impressive thing about this car. It is without a doubt, the closest thing to the Defender in so far as you have that clear view of the corners of the vehicle and feel for where everything is at. Both diffs line-up directly under the driver's left leg, nice and easy for when you need to place them over an obstacle. And you will need to place them as ground clearance is some 30-40mm less than the Defender. Still, it's pretty good. Suspension is reassuringly simple and mechanical - solid axles, coil springs and the biggest trailing arms and stabiliser bars I've seen. The exhausts also exit sideways, forward of the rear wheels but don't stick right out like the AMG ones.

    With the flattish sides (like the Defender) and frogseye indicators on the front, I felt very comfortable manoeuvring the vehicle confident that I knew exactly where things were around me. The cabin is surprisingly compact but certainly not short of space where it's needed. I could reach across and open the passenger's door if I had to. The only weakness is the massive blindspots at the rear corners where there are no windows, but of course there is a panoramic reversing camera mounted over the centre of the rear door.

    The G-Wagen has diff-locks front, centre and rear as standard! All push button. High-low range is also push button and easy to use. Since the salesman knew nothing I just guessed that you needed to put it in neutral to do this and sure enough that was how you did it. Double pushng the gear lever to the left jumps straight from drive to low gear. Low-low is not quite as slow as the Deefer, but still impressivey slow. Holds well downhill and you can also use the cruise control to set a fixed speed if you want from 30km/hr. Uphill the automatic doesn't pull at idle, you need to use the throttle, but in low range it is extremely easy and has immense travel for good control.

    On the highway the power is fine. Not mind-blowing but more than enough. Brakes are the same as the AMG version and will pull you up faster than if you hit whatever it was you were trying to avoid. The brake pedal was however, adjusted up way too high so I kept catching my shoe on it. The first 1/4 of its travel did nothing then your eyeballs popped out of their sockets.

    Inside there was all the standard climate controlled, iPod audio, memory seat fluff Range Rover and Discovery 4 owners are probably used to. Not really my cup of tea and I could do without most of it but I'm sure the wife will love it. Even though the European models have cloth trim in base spec. we only get leather here. Cloth is a special order and it remains to be seen if that reduces the price at all or they charge more for the inconvenience.

    Mercedes offer a lot of useful accessories like towbar and rubber mats as well as plenty of not-useful ones like ambient mood lighting (WTF). There is apparently a standard Merc bullbar but I suspect it is the Euro-spec one that turns into a pillow if it hits a pedestrian. We'll wait and see if ARB offer anything in future. The sales manager assured me that this is now a standard line item and their dealership allocation is three per month. If this is true at least we may see useful numbers of G-Wagens coming onto the market so aftermarket mobs have a reason to develop some stuff.

    When we got back to the dealers, I asked some more probing questions about loadspace and how big a dog I could fit in with the seats down. The salesman, and sales manager couldn't work out how to fold the rear seats forward so I'll have to go back next week to find out more. The sales manager got a bit excited to think that they may have a customer who was actually going to use the thing off-road. I told them I had a place I wanted to test it properly if they didn't mind a few scratches - they did.

    Price? About $160K with GST and luxury car tax. Insurance? Don't ask. You wouldn't believe me.

    Would I buy one? If my accountant told me I could, in a heartbeat. It's like a Defender and a Range Rover rolled into one but better built, and with better coffee at the service centre.

    And finally, if I did, does that mean I can't hang out here anymore? I'll keep my Land Rover keyring.

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    Whys it so expensive here compared to Europe, i would say do Mercedes Australia think they will sell any at that price, but come to think of it, all those people " Example " on the gold coast without brian's who buy Porsche Cayenne turbos and the like, will love this thing, perfect for the school run, and getting one up on G500 next door, and most of all get some 22" chrome rims on there baby, well bling, oh lower the suspension too.

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    Trouble is the thing would be 15 years old before someone who would use the diff locks could afford it. Pat

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    Quote Originally Posted by solmanic View Post
    does that mean I can't hang out here anymore? I'll keep my Land Rover keyring.
    Yes, but you may have to hang out in the REMLR section, which will soon be renamed REMLRAMB (And Mercedes Benz).

    So how much trade in did they give you on the Puma?

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    The worst thing is the yuppies who buy this thing will actually have a capable off-roader, unlike an X5 or Cayenne, plus all the luxury.

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    solmanic's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by juddy View Post
    Whys it so expensive here compared to Europe
    In one word - TAX. The list price is about $120K which compares to the EU80K price on M-B's German site. There is $40K GST and luxury car tax added on.

    Quote Originally Posted by PAT303 View Post
    Trouble is the thing would be 15 years old before someone who would use the diff locks could afford it. Pat
    I know. It's a shame - so I see it as my duty in a way to buy one and then break it on the road up to our property .

    Quote Originally Posted by isuzurover View Post
    So how much trade in did they give you on the Puma?
    The sales manager was pretty keen to push me to trade in but we didn't talk numbers. Besides, experience has taught me that it is better to sell privately for a realistic price that still far exceeds a trade-in offer. I look after my cars and feel good when they go to a new home with an appreciative buyer.

    ...now where has Aaron gone? He must be just about finished with the last Defender I sold him.

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    Quote Originally Posted by Ranga View Post
    The worst thing is the yuppies who buy this thing will actually have a capable off-roader, unlike an X5 or Cayenne, plus all the luxury.
    And donít forget to add the L322 ( MY06 on ) Range Rover Vogue to that list of fake 4x4s

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    Quote Originally Posted by Ranga View Post
    The worst thing is the yuppies who buy this thing will actually have a capable off-roader, unlike an X5 or Cayenne, plus all the luxury.
    I know - there should be a law against it, or maybe a license needed... to restrict ownership to only those who have skills.

    (do you like the way I ever so subtly steered this thread back onto THAT old chestnut?)

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    G-Wagen here has a list price of R850K. If I won the lottery tomorrow, I'd sell that POS Puma and get a G-Wagen.

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    I also think the G-wagon is pretty cool, a very capable vehicle, and the only thing i'll ever sell the fender for........ but for the price?? never.....!
    If i won lotto however..........
    Louis

    '99 'fender - it goes... (quite well actually!)

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