The Mercedes G-Class Professional is a military-grade tough, yet smooth, vehicle.
Dominating visually with its large muscular engine hood and broad front grille, the X350 certainly looks the part. But more compelling, if you have a premium ute on your wish or shopping list, is the driving experience. Measured power delivery and a smooth — George Clooney smooth — transmission make this vehicle a terrific choice.
Under that bulging hood sits Mercedes’ OM642, 6-cylinder 3.0L turbo unit, pushing out a class-leading 190kW (255hp) and a useful 550kW torque. This leads the move from Nissan underpinnings, as does the fitment of a Mercedes 7G-TronicPlus 7-speed transmission with selectable dynamic driving modes including eco, comfort, sport manual with paddle shifters and off-road modes.
The driveline is also configured to deliver the 4-Matic, full-time 4WD, and there’s the additional choice of low range 4WD and rear diff lock that nods towards the vehicle’s capabilities off-road. That ability is enhanced by a 222mm ground clearance, downhill speed regulation and a tyre monitoring system.
Out on the road, in this case around rural Waikato and a dash up the Coromandel Peninsula to the excellent Leadfoot Festival, the X350 was certainly easy to live with.
The robust ladder chassis and multi-link suspension with rear coil springs imparts a more SUV-type ride, not surprising when you hear that much of the driveline is taken from the maker’s GL Series. Suspension settings keep things firm, with little or no body roll, and the full-time 4WD set-up means that even when driven with gusto you take the bends in a predictable manner with no deviation from the chosen path.
The combination of 190kW, seven speeds and 0-100km/h in 7.9 secs means drivers who wishing to push on won’t be disappointed – especially if the sport mode is selected, making it easy to eat up the kilometres.
In the background, safety features like lane keep assist, autonomous cruise control, active brake assist and – if required – speed regulation make the operator feel safe. So do the excellent 360-degree camera system, seven airbags and a 5-star ANCAP safety rating.
For drivers looking to combine work and play there’s 3.5 tonne towing capacity and a one tonne rear tray rating, with a load area dimensioned to easily receive a standard Euro pallet. When the wife and kids are aboard for the weekend they shouldn’t have much to complain about either. In the centre dashboard an 8.4-inch infotainment system offers sound, navigation and vehicle settings, accessed from the multi-function steering wheel or a dial ahead of the centre armrest, although the latter is really an acquired taste.
Throughout the cabin, 12V power and USB ports offer a connection to the outside digital world and should stop any ‘are we there yet?’ enquiries.
The front seating is a well-upholstered pew offering plenty of support and lots of adjustment, with plenty of room in the rear for children and adults. Leather trim adds to the experience if you’ve ticked the options box, with an overall cabin experience that can only impress with its overall fit and finish.
Depending on the trim level – or the option boxes ticked – there’s Thermotronic automated climate control, keyless entry, running boards, sports mouldings on the rear well-deck and a choice of alloy wheels.