1 Mar 2011
THE G-Class was in a class of its own in terms of the competition as there really was nothing else like on the Australian market.
With its three locking differentials activated and low range selected in the transfer case, there was nothing short of a Jeep Wrangler Rubicon that could challenge the G-class off road, but the Jeep was a very different animal that could not compare to the Benz in any other regard.
While Europe got three body variants, including a soft-top and short-wheelbase model, Australia received only the five-door wagon in diesel G350 BlueTec and supercharged V8 petrol G55 AMG guises.
The G was no stripped-out workhorse like a LandCruiser 76 or a Land Rover Defender. It was appointed like a true luxury vehicle.
18-inch alloy wheels, Xenon headlights, leather trim, power adjustment with memory and heating on the front seats, Command APS system with HD satellite-navigation, 6.5-inch colour screen and Harmon Kardon audio, reversing camera plus rear parking sensors, and the fit, finish and feel of a luxury sedan were all standard on the base-spec G350 BlueTec.
Fuel consumption was 11.2 litres per 100km on the combined cycle. The engine itself was the familiar 3.0-litre V6 used in other Mercedes vehicles, albeit with the emissions-reducing BlueTec urea injection system.
The G55 added 19-inch AMG alloys, luxury front seats with heating and cooling, a power sunroof, a TV tuner, Desingo interior features and AMG trimmings, as well as the supercharged petrol V8 engine.
In this application, it produces 155kW at 3400rpm and has 540Nm of torque between 1600rpm and 2400rpm. The diesel is backed by a seven-speed automatic transmission.
The G55 AMG’s hand-built, supercharged 5.5-litre petrol V8 made 373kW at 6100rpm and 700Nm between 2750 and 4000rpm, enough to propel the G55 from 0-100km/h in 5.5 seconds, something a Defender or LandCruiser would never do.
Fuel use for the G55 was quoted at 15.9L/100km – impressive for a 2.5-tonne wagon with the aerodynamics of a freight liner and the power of a locomotive. The G55’s transmission was a five-speed automatic unit.