The king of the SUVs
When it comes to SUVs, the modern car dealership is stacked with countless models from every manufacturer that ever has been.
There are more new SUVs being sold in Australia every year than any other type of car.
Nonetheless, there are only two icons that can claim they have been around long before SUVs were the mainstay of pop culture and the primary choice of everyone from families to social elites — the Land Rover Defender and the Mercedes-Benz G-Class (or G-Wagen, as the Germans call it).
While Land Rover has brought a new Defender to life, which brings the robust and capable model into the modern age, the car remains a cheaper alternative for those that are happy to stay more in the mainstream.
The Mercedes-Benz G-Wagen, on the other hand, is the equivalent of a Birkin bag on wheels. It exists because it’s a visual representation of its owner’s desire to be different.
It doesn’t matter how capable or excellent it is at doing the things it’s designed to do, what matters is that it’s a G-Wagen and all you have to do is open and close the door to realise how silly it is, and why it’s so easy to fall in love with it.
If you’re wondering why the G-Wagen is an icon, it’s important to look a little deeper into the model’s history.
In the same way that the much-loved Volkswagen Beetle was the creation of a German dictator (you know the one) and Ferdinand Porsche, the G-Wagen also came about first and foremost in the thoughts of another dictator.
Long ago, before the religious revolution in Iran, the shah (king) of the Middle Eastern nation owned about 25 per cent of Daimler-Benz, the then parent company of Mercedes-Benz.
As you would imagine for a king, he was not exactly enjoying getting around in a Jeep, which led him to ask the German company to make a military-style vehicle befitting a king, and the board of Daimler agreed. The project was envisioned and approved by the shah and Mercedes-Benz handed manufacturing over to Austrian company “Steyr-Daimler-Puch” — now known as Magna Steyr since its acquisition in 2001 by Magna international — where it is still manufactured today.
The first generation launched in 1979, the same year as the Iranian revolution, so the shah (who was deposed and later died in exile) never got to enjoy his G-Wagen. Thankfully for the rest of us, the G-Wagen has become the modern-day anti-hero of SUVs. It’s the ultimate ‘bad-ass’ SUV.
Optioned in black, with super-dark tinted windows and a red leather interior, there are not many more iconic vehicles to step out of. No matter how you look at it, since its inception there is an undeniable level of excellence and allure about this Austrian-made, German-owned and Iranian-inspired vehicle that more than 40 years on, remains the envy of all SUV manufacturers. Let’s be real though, that envy and that allure is really for the fire-breathing twin-turbo V8 Mercedes-AMG G63. Does the diesel G400d possess the same appeal and if not, does it provide appeal in different ways to justify its existence?
The G400d is the more sensible choice for those who want to do long-distance driving and appreciate the incredible torque, reliability and durability of the Mercedes-Benz diesel engine. Unlike its more in-your-face city-dwelling G63 brother, the G400d should appeal to those who’d consider taking their very expensive G-Wagen off-road and frequent rough and unsurfaced roads.
The 2022 Mercedes-Benz G400d retails for $233,900 before on-road costs, and is on sale now. That puts it $56,000 below the bi-turbo V8-powered Mercedes-AMG G63, which is priced from $289,900 plus on-roads.
Realistically, the G400d will be about $250-260k on the road if you don’t go too crazy with options, while the AMG G63 (if you can even get one) is now well and truly into the $320-330k bracket. That might seem expensive — and it is — but if you look a little closer, there is $17,799 of GST and $37,990 of LCT in the G400d, while the G63 gets $22,351 of GST and $53,013 of LCT added in. Pricing doesn’t include stamp duty.
Full story, including specs and safety at carexpert.com.au
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