Mercedes shows off

first-class G-Class

Mercedes-AMG G-Class, nose
Mercedes-AMG G-Class, front
Mercedes-AMG G-Class, nose 2
Mercedes-AMG G-Class, nose 3
Mercedes-AMG G-Class, nose 4
Mercedes-AMG G-Class, side
Mercedes-AMG G-Class, side 2
Mercedes-AMG G-Class, side 3
Mercedes-AMG G-Class, rear 2
Mercedes-AMG G-Class, rear
Mercedes-AMG G-Class, interior
Mercedes-AMG G-Class, rear seats
Mercedes-AMG G-Class, V8 boot
Mercedes-AMG G-Class, V8 badge
Mercedes-AMG G-Class, Shockl badge

THE car I am driving is Schoeckl Proved. I know this because there is an embossed roundel on the doorframe of my Mercedes Benz G-Class.

This tells me that my car has been thoroughly tested on Schoeckl, the 1,445 metre mountain in Austria right next to, as luck would have it, the factory where the G-Class is made in Graz.

It has more than three miles of rough and perilous track and terrain over which Mercedes prove its big SUV, testing it for thousands of miles in all conditions and weathers and only when they are satisfied do they affix the Schoeckl stamp.

For drivers what that means is this car will easily take on a gradient of 60 per cent and it will ford a river up to 700mm or 27.5-inches deep.

The latest G-Class has a 31 degree angle of approach and a 30 degree angle of departure, ground clearance is 10.6-inches at the front and 9.5-inches at the rear. In low range the diff can be locked front middle and rear.

Mercedes amazingly has been making this big, retro-looking for the past four decades - without really too much of a change.

Each G-Class is hand-built in Graz in a process that takes 140 hours.

Now for 2019 Mercedes has virtually kept the same exterior look - including the two little front wing lights - but have made the G-Class longer and wider for greater comfort for both passengers and driver.

They have also given it the AMG treatment so that the G-Class I am driving with brilliant blue metallic paint with running boards and side fitted quad exhausts sits on 22-inch tryes.

But it comes at a price and this AMG variant one cost a heady £143,305.

It has fabulous perforated Nappa leather upholstery inside in macchiato beige - ivory to you and me - with espresso brown and open pore natural walnut wood trim.

It looks stunning but I'm not sure how the mucky Springer might cope with it.

And as well as being the master of Schoeckl, it's also not too shabby out on the road too.

It comes with a hand-built 4.0-litre V8 petrol engine delivering a whopping 585hp. There are various driving modes to deliver even more exhilaration as well as all that off-roading capability.

The AMG Driver's Package also means that the standard top speed of 137mph is augmented to 149. This of course will require a visit to the German autobahns to try this out.

Top speed is a claimed 149mph and it can accelerate 0 to 60 in less than 4.5 seconds fuel economy is rated at 21.4mpg. Emissions are a heady 306g/km.

The G-Class looks big but once behind the wheel it drives surprisingly easily and I even found it not too difficult to park in the supermarket. Of course the rearview camera and the 360 degree one all make manoeuvring far easier than you might expect.

The cabin has a sweeping double screen which starts at the driver's door and runs across the central console to the passenger side of the car giving it a wonderful space age feel.

The G-Class is a survivor that takes its DNA from a long ago military vehicle but really there is nothing either spartan or utilitarian about it.

As people move towards SUVs it is coming back into its own with a great look, fabulous interior and the power and reliable performance that make it a star. It's Glorious - it's a G-Class.

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