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Driven: Mercedes G300 CDI resets off-road ute bar

Tough truck: The Mercedes-Benz G300 is built with off-road in mind, with snorkels and dual batteries included as standard.

G-Professional cab-chassis marks next chapter in Mercedes' move in commercials


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2 Dec 2016

MERCEDES-BENZ has added a new four-wheel-drive cab-chassis to its range that can trace its heritage back more than 40 years, and it is not sold anywhere else in the world.

Dubbed the G300 CDI, the 4x4 commercial-grade cab-chassis has a large carrying capacity, a list of specialist off-road equipment included as standard and genuine off-road ability.

“Weight carrying capacity, and being able to distribute that weight across the vehicle, is where the G300 has definite strengths,” said Mercedes-Benz Australia/Pacific manager of corporate and fleet sales Ross Crabtree.

“If a customer needs to be able to go off road, they need something that’s durable and they need something that has to carry weight, those are the three main strengths of the car.” Mr Crabtree showed off a fire engine spec G300 that wore a 184kg roof protection bar array and had the capacity to carry 650L of water.

“Another organisation has configured their car to carry 800L of water,” he said.

Dealers were not told of the car’s arrival until just prior to the media event, and Mr Crabtree says the reaction has been positive.

“We’re pleasantly surprised at how positive the reaction has been,” he said. “There’s an appetite for the car.” The G300 has actually been on sale for the majority of 2016, and Mercedes-Benz has been working with some of its customers – including the Victorian department of environment, land, water and planning (DELWP) fire management service, the Country Fire Authority and ACT forestry management – closely for two years to spec the G300 according to specific requirements.

The G300 is currently available in a single spec variant, the G300 CDI, and is priced at $119,900 before on-road costs.

Based on the company’s G-Class range, the G300 is even more biased towards rugged, off-road conditions.

Its underpinnings – known as the BR461 chassis – can trace its lineage back to the G Series’ launch in 1974. Known as the G-Professional, it is the same heavy duty platform that is used under the G-Series wagons supplied by Mercedes-Benz to the Australian Defence Force.

It has a payload of 2085kg (minus the weight of whatever tray is fitted to the chassis) and a braked towing capacity of 2120kg. It can tow 750kg unbraked.

Off-road specific items like a bullbar, indicator guards, an engine snorkel, sump and transmission guard, twin batteries, water drain plugs, wheel chocks, vinyl seats and rubber mats are fitted as standard equipment.

Extended door mirrors are also standard, as well as 4500kg-rated tow hooks and headlight protecting mesh. A rear-sliding window is standard, though a solid rear cab panel is optional.

It also comes with air-conditioning and under-seat storage.

Safety-wise, the Mercedes comes with only switchable stability control, brake force distribution and brake assist, and just two airbags. It will not be eligible for a five-star ANCAP rating.

No hill control descent or off-road mode is offered, though the automatic transmission can be used in manual override mode.

It has 96 litres of diesel capacity for its 135kW, 400Nm 3.0-litre V6 turbo, with the drive sent 50:50 to each end via three diff locks and a five-speed automatic transmission. No manual gearbox is offered.

Mercedes-Benz does not offer fuel economy figures for its commercial vehicles.

It has 245mm of ground clearance, a 650mm wading depth and manually adjustable engine control, along with 38/35-degree approach/departure angles and a break-over point of 22 degrees.

Its only true competitor in the market in terms of even similar load capacity and off-road ability is the Toyota 70 Series, which sells for $60,990 plus on-road costs in GXL spec. It, however, does not match the G300 in payload or off-road specs.

Vehicles such as the Toyota HiLux, Ford Ranger, Isuzu D-Max, Nissan Navara and Volkswagen Amarok are offered in 4x4 cab-chassis form, but have on average half the G300’s load capacity.

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