The last few years have been tough for many four-wheel drive enthusiasts. The simplistic solid axle vehicles we all love seem to be falling one by one to the unstoppable tide of progress, and every new announcement brings another disappointing change for die-hard fans. It sometimes feels like the icons of the industry have abandoned us, opting instead to service a clientele of the super rich or produce cute micro-suvs meant for adventures in urban jungles. The death of the Defender earlier this year marked the final blow for many, relegating them to a fate of quasi-4x4s with “off-road” packages; but now glimmers of hope are shining in from a very unexpected corner of the world… Stuttgart.
Mercedes just unveiled the new G350d Professional, and in a bold move which not only challenges but denounces current trends, it comes with cloth seats, manual windows, a factory lift, lockers, and almost none of the plush appointments expected from the brand. Their intent is to create a “purist variant”, one which will combine the luxurious ride comfort of a Modern G with a functional interior for enduring grueling off-road use and professional applications.
-Daimler press release
I might be biased, but Daimler’s quote sounded a lot like this is an overland ready vehicle to me, and a quick glance down the spec sheet doesn’t exactly prove me wrong. The stock motor is a diesel V-6 pumping out 245 horsepower (a 33% increase over the previous model) and 443 ft-lbs of torquewhile still maintaining an impressive rating of 9.9 litres per 100 kilometers; that’s roughly 24 miles per gallon for us Mericans.
The suspension has been upgraded to provide an additional 10mm of ground clearance for conquering technical terrain and 265/70 R 16 all terrains come standard. This configuration gives the G Professional a breakover angle of 24 degrees, a tipping angle of 54%, an approach and departure angle of 36 and 39 degrees respectively, a fording depth of 600mm, and a total ground clearance of 245mm. When combined with the G’s permanent all-wheel drive system, selectable low range, and of course front, rear, and center differential locks, we’re not sure what would stop this thing.
Of course looks are always part of the package, and Mercedes nailed it this time. No chrome bits or 24’s adorn this elegant beast, just a matte black grille with matching 16″ black alloy wheels and accents. Although the all black theme is cool, we’re much more excited for some of the optional colors which include desert sand and China blue, a color similar to that sported by “Otto”, the world conquering G driven by Gunther Holtorf.
Despite their noble desire to simplify this vehicle, it does have a few AWESOME option packages.
- A steel front bumper with preparation for a cable winch is available as an option
- The optional Professional Off-Road package includes a protective grille for the front bi-xenon headlamps; a protective grille is also available for the indicators as a further option. Added to this is dark-tinted glass for the rear side windows and the rear window. This package also includes the load compartment in wood finish and the preparation for a hands-free system. A roof rack with ladder further enhances the capabilities of the G 350 d Professional
- Side running boards on the left and right enhance practicality and enable objects to be lashed easily to the roof rack, which is included with the Professional Off-Road package
- The Load Protection package is designed to ensure optimum safety during transportation. The package includes a cargo net, load compartment cover and a fixed trailer coupling
Unfortunately it’s not all sunshine and rainbows for U.S. citizens, and we’ve stumbled across two problems. First, it costs nearly €80,000 to grab a set of G Professional keys, a steep price to pay when you consider that it is only equipped with a cloth interior and partial power seats. Second, and this is the kicker, we have only seen a European release date of September 2016 without any mention of North America. We hope that Mercedes would not be so cruel as to leave us out of yet another wonderful overland vehicle, but at the rate we’ve been going it wouldn’t surprise us in the least. Let’s hope that other manufacturers take note of this shift towards simplification, as we would love to see a new Land Rover or Grand Cherokee with an off-road package paired to cloth seats and manual interior components.