BENZ IN THE ’BURBS

WE GIVE THE G300 A BREAK FROM THE RIGOURS OF OFF-ROADING.

WORDS MATT RAUDONIKIS PHOTOS ELLEN DEWAR

WE’VE driven it to the High Country Alps, the Simpson Desert dunes and across the stony tracks of outback NSW, and the G300 Professional has proven capable and dependable in the harshest terrain and conditions. But what’s it like to live with around town?

Off-roading forms only part of our driving life and we have to endure work and city-life to allow us to get out bush, and, despite its four-decades-old commercial vehicle design, the G-Wagen is an easy truck to commute with in the suburbs. That old design includes the G’s slab-sidedness, the large, flat glasshouse and its upright seating position, which all combine to make the G-Wagen easy to manoeuvre around town, with plenty of visibility around the car. The massive turning circle and relatively heavy power steering don’t help, but you get used to them and make allowances for the turning radius. The G-Wagen may look big but that’s just an illusion, as it covers a smaller footprint than any of the modern dual-cab utes and most full-size 4x4 wagons – plus it’s easier to park than most other modern vehicles due to its great visibility.

The interior is Spartan by any standard, and you miss some of the modern creature comforts when in town – Bluetooth phone connection, a modern audio system and power windows would all be appreciated in a vehicle that costs $120K – but when it comes to the crunch, the G doesn’t lack anything essential for an off-road vehicle.

The modest performance of the 3.0- litre diesel engine and five-speed auto combo is adequate around town, but you need to allow for a bit of turbo lag when pulling out into traffic. We noted last month that the G Pro sucks down the diesel when travelling at 110km/h on the highway, but that settles down in town to around 13.5L/100km – still high by modern standards, but aerodynamics wasn’t on top of the agenda when the G was penned back in the 1970s.

As our three months with the G Professional draw to a close, we reckon it will be a difficult vehicle to replace in our shed. Four-wheel drives like this are few and far between – we also had a Land Cruiser 79 before the Merc – and there’s nothing else available new that will deliver the character and feel of an authentic off-road vehicle. The history of a four-decades-old design and the bulletproof toughness of the G-Wagon make it one of the few new 4x4s that never fails to make me smile when I drive it, despite its shortcomings.

There is a new G-Wagen coming in 2018 which will host some of the biggest changes to the iconic model in its 39-year history. Let’s hope it lives up to the legend.

MERCEDES-BENZ G300 PROFESSIONAL 4X4 SHED DATE ACQUIRED: SEP 2017 PRICE: $119,890 KM THIS MONTH: 3059 AV FUEL: 13.45L/100KM 0 1 4 3 4 6 9 KM