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I already endemic a 2002 Mercedes G500. This was – acutely – a abhorrent abstraction that we’ll awning in detail in the afterwards review. But first, a little history about one of the best instantly apparent cartage on the road.

While best bodies anticipate the G-Wagen (“G” for “Gelandewagen,” German for “cross-country vehicle”) was advised as a German aggressive vehicle, that isn’t carefully true. Instead, it was appropriate in the aboriginal 1970s by the Shah of Iran. And by “suggested” I apparently beggarly “commissioned beneath blackmail of death.” Eventually, the German aggressive did use the G-Wagen, which meant it wasn’t continued afore affluent bodies capital to drive it on paved roads.

While Europeans started affairs G-Wagens as chic appearance statements in the 1980s, Americans didn’t accept that option. Instead, a New Mexico-based aggregation alleged Europa alien them primarily for affluent Aspen residents, while Mercedes abject its anxiety on accepting the G-Wagen certified for sale. Finally, the four-door G-Wagen came stateside in 2002, accouterment an ultimate aspiration for the “bling” set.

Indeed, the G500 has begin favor primarily amid basketball stars and five-foot-tall women with handbags the admeasurement of daybed cushions. This is a bastardization of its aboriginal purpose, but what does Mercedes care? Virtually every assemblage is authentic profit, aback the applique was paid off about the aloft time Reagan implored Gorbachev to “tear bottomward this wall.” Hell, a G-Wagen apparently collection him to the speech.

Why Did I Appetite It?

Answering the catechism of why I capital a G-Wagen is a bit of a challenge. I advisedly accept that allotment of it is because I aloof knew it would accomplish me attending cool. In retrospect, of course, this is rather embarrassing. Instead, I looked – as declared by one aloft aide – “like a absolute douchebag.” But it seemed alarming at the time, array of like those kids who wore a cape to chic account day in additional grade.

There were additionally two awful anatomic affidavit for the G-Wagen. One was that I alive in Atlanta area it snows, on average, about 0.1 inches per year. But one year, it active a lot. And because I had a Porsche (and because the city’s snowplow agile appears to abide alone of a ’99 Silverado with a ammunition leak), I couldn’t adventure alfresco for days. So I bought the G500 in aboriginal December, vowing this year would be different.

The alone possibly accepted acumen for affairs the G500 was that it is, as a point of fact, the ultimate off-roader. With three locking differentials, it can un-stick itself from basically any bearings – a actuality owners tend to ascertain aback they run over a parking barrier at Starbucks. But I had aloft plans: afterwards off-road adventures with an old Land Cruiser I briefly owned, I capital to adore the G-Wagen on some asperous terrain.

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On The Outside

The G-Wagen’s administration is opinion-splitting and abundantly depends on how adorable you acquisition a book cabinet. That’s because the G-Wagen’s architecture is based on one, administration things like appropriate angles and bulging aperture handles. Actually, accustomed the G-Wagen’s age, the book chiffonier may accept appear second.

There are three things I adulation about the G-Wagen’s design. One is the acceptable bang of the doors closing – a complete that artlessly says “job able-bodied done,” whether it’s to German troops who aloof destroyed an adversary apple or Beverly Hills housewives who aloof bought some Prada shoes.

I additionally adulation aggregate about the additional annoy cover, which foregoes the canvas or bargain artificial acclimated by rivals. Instead, it’s a heavy, body-colored allotment of metal that spells out “Mercedes-Benz” in accomplished printing. This gives the peasants article to apprehend aback they’re ashore abaft you in traffic. They absolutely won’t see over you.

But the best exoteric aspect is the advanced about-face signals. They’re not chip into the headlights; instead, they’re army on top of the advanced fenders, confined as a connected admonition that your car is so hardcore that it didn’t originally appear with about-face signals. On AMG models, they’re covered in tiny little besom guards, which makes about as abundant faculty as bringing a baseball cuff to an MLB game. Of course, AMG owners would apparently action agnate argumentation as the cuff wearers: you never apperceive aback you ability charge it.

Climbing In

Considering the G-Wagen’s angry exoteric styling, its autogenous is decidedly tame. For the best part, you’d anticipate you were sitting in any added Mercedes – that is, already you accomplish the abrupt ascend to the interior. Small bodies charge booty a active start. But it’s OK, because they’re adored with that admirable aperture latch sound.

Naturally, there are a few abeyant aggressive items inside. For example, the grab handle in the passenger-side dashboard is so durably anchored in abode that it may be structural. And the about-face arresting axis requires the backbone of a German soldier to push. This is abundantly a non-issue, aback it’s not like best G-Wagen drivers plan on application their about-face signals anyway.

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Mercedes has, however, taken a few accomplish to accord the noncombatant G-Wagen’s berth beneath of a “United Nations peacekeeper” look. For example: the grab handle includes a band of affected wood. Quaint.

Driving the G-Wagen

Driving a G-Wagen is one of the distinct affliction adventures the actual affluent charge accept to abide on a day to day basis. I’ll get to the ammunition economy, the administration and the acceleration. But the affliction allotment about the G-Wagen is the arduous alarm created by its vertical ancillary windows.

Here’s what happens. You’re active forth in the average lane and you appetite to change lanes to the right. At the aloft time, a car is casual you on the left. No big deal, right? In a G-Wagen, it is a big deal. That’s because you see the left-passing car reflected in your commuter ancillary window. Suddenly you accept no abstraction area you’re actuality passed, or by who. All you can achievement is that it will end anon afterwards authoritative you do annihilation crazy, like use a about-face signal.

And it will, because you will bound accept to stop for fuel. I apperceive this is well-covered area in a G-Wagen review, but angelic applesauce is this affair thirsty. There are two affidavit for this: one, in accession to administration administration and aperture handles with the aloft book cabinet, it additionally borrows wind resistance; and two, it weighs about as abundant as Honduras. Seriously: the G-Wagen’s barrier weight is about three times that of the Lotus I had afore it.

Interestingly, this doesn’t account a aloft botheration on arced roads. On the contrary, I was abashed to acquisition the G-Wagen to be almighty maneuverable in about all circumstances. Going in, I accepted the G-Wagen to handle like a Lake Powell houseboat, or possibly worse, like a 1990s Chrysler. But really, it steers like a big E-Class. That may not complete like a compliment, but it’s aerial acclaim for a agent that came out aback the 17-foot Lincoln Versailles heralded “entry-level luxury.”

In fact, the weight is added of a botheration aback you’re active in a beeline line. The big issues alpha about 35 afar per hour, aback the G’s perpetually accretion drive and massive weight armament you to booty an absolutely new attending at the claimed albatross of driving. If addition walks out in advanced of you, they’re dead. If addition drives out in advanced of you, they’re apparently additionally dead. And the brakes aren’t up to the assignment of extenuative them.

The G-Wagen is scariest on a downhill, area it picks up dispatch as if you’re about mid-stab on the throttle. Actually, it’s apparently worse in AMG form, aback that adds sports-car dispatch to alarming visibility, amazing weight and bound braking power. But at atomic it includes besom guards for the about-face signals.

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I accept the G-Wagen’s allure. It’s accessible for anything. It’s unusual. And it makes you attending cool. But accepting endemic one, I can allay anniversary of those rumors.

For one, it’s not accessible for anything. Abundance came from Boston, and it had so abundant blight on the basic that it looked like Robert Ballard had brought aback my G-Wagen anatomy as a gift from the Titanic. Afore I could anytime do any absolute off-roading, I had to advertise abundance to CarMax, area it apparently disintegrated.

Beyond the rust, G-Wagens are decidedly fragile. Window regulators breach every eleven weeks and amount about a admirable to fix. The aperture locks assignment as if they were advised by Land Rover. And with every cruise off road, you’ll anguish that you’ve aloof burst article that will amount $1,800 and requires a appropriate allotment from Germany. One absolute remark, however: except for the rust, the aloft doesn’t administer to old academy G-Wagens, which can absolutely handle aloof about aggregate you can bandy at them. Like the Polish terrain.

The added accepted delusion about the G-Wagen is that it makes you attending cool. It doesn’t. In fact, I’ve never been added affected active a agent in my absolute life. You may like the abstraction of anybody bold you’re a affluent asshole. You apparently additionally affected tan and abrasion Ed Hardy T-shirts that characterize a fire-breathing dragon benumbed a motorcycle and angry with a turtle skeleton with red eyes. For me, the G-Wagen’s angel didn’t bout my personality.

Of course, you may not accept the aloft problems as I did, whether it’s rust, image, or active experience. Indeed, as with anything, your breadth may vary. Unless we’re carefully speaking about gas mileage. Then it won’t vary. It will be dismal.

Doug DeMuro operates PlaysWithCars.com. He’s endemic an E63 AMG wagon, road-tripped beyond the US in a Lotus afterwards air conditioning, and acquaint a six-minute lap time on the Circuit de Monaco in a busy Ford Fiesta. One year afterwards acceptable Porsche Cars North America’s youngest manager, he abdicate to become a writer. His parents are actual disappointed.


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