Outrageous. That’s the perfect description of the newly revamped G-Wagen, Mercedes truck-based large SUV.
You see them on the road sparingly, although more so in Beverly Hills where pricey cars find themselves in much pricier mansions.
This year’s model is extra special since it marks the first complete makeover since the vehicle’s 1979 debut.
Pros: Posh interior, high-tech features, exceptional performance
Cons: Priciest production SUV, awful fuel economy, limited cargo space
Our test car for the week was the G63, a twin-turbo V8 with 577 horsepower. Its sibling base is the G550 with 416 horsepower, each mated with nine-speed automatics.
Their on-road performance is equally matched with off-road capability. Its nickname, G-Wagen is a derivative of Gelandenwagen — German for off-roader. No matter the name these are fast machines.
Our 5,700-pound chariot reached 60 miles per hour in 4.5 seconds. Its non-turbo sibling is said to do the same in 5.8 seconds. Moving through curvy roads, power lumbar supports keep front-seat passengers firmly in place for the ride.
What’s unique about this year’s makeover is an all-new interior — quite a change from the 1979 look. The exterior is more streamlined but its windshield remains upright, and the G-Wagen body is still boxy.
It shares a slight exterior resemblance to the four door Jeep Wrangler although with a base price of $147,500 without expensive options its performance leaves rivals in the dust or water.
While much has changed, the classic G-Wagen retains its heritage with exposed door hinges, a firmly pressed door button that releases a mechanical latch and closes just as firmly. The loudest interior noise is the door locks clanking down or up with a strike.
Phillips head screws securing front and rear lamps have been replaced with molded assemblies to the dismay of some. Basket cupholders that pressed against passenger legs have been replaced with console mounted usable holders.
A sleek and changeable digital instrument cluster meshed with a 12.3-inch display combine to modernize the G-Wagen’s dashboard.
Selectable driving modes — Slippery, Comfort, Sport, Sport Plus and Individual meet driver needs with adaptive shocks and an array of power choices, electric steering and a suspension that is just right for pavement dwellers or off-road prowess with tire sizes up to 22-inches.
Spirited acceleration bolts the G-Wagen forward to its top track speed of 149 miles per hour. Options are plentiful from the Mercedes inventory and include massaging seats, adaptive cruise, blind spot monitors, active park assist and rear side airbags.
Our G-Wagen included $20k in extras including Nappa leather seating, a carbon fiber engine cover and a $7,200 interior package with rapid heating and ventilated seats.
With 9.5 inches of ground clearance, four wheel drive and three locking differentials, the G-Wagen will go where no man has gone before with a rearview underwater camera to spot obstacles and an available perimeter view camera to check out submerged boulders ahead.
The G-Wagen is a one-of-a-kind SUV for the discerning buyer with attitude.