Thus far, in India, the G-class was the extroverted madcap of this Mercedes version range. It was only sold in AMG guise with enormous V8 petrol motors. And that is just as well because, despite the immense price tag, humorous thirst for unleaded fuel, and a ride that bordered on uncomfortable, it was hugely popular. In reality, it remains the best selling AMG in India, despite being among the most expensive. And that has much less to do with its uncompromising way of off-the-shelf hardware, and perhaps not it’s military-grade engineering. It’s always been something much less concrete with all the G-Wagen, and that is its unbelievable road existence — the fact that it looks as though it could conquer a medium-size country, not the simple fact that it actually can.

Mercedes-Benz G 350d Design Review

The G 350d, subsequently, feels as though it ought to have come to India years ago. It provides you the same all-conquering seem because of its AMG sibling but at a lower price and with the promise of much lower operating costs. Certainly, in this optional black-on-black-on-black color scheme, it looks like something a Bond villain would push. The few differences are that it foregoes the AMG Panamericana grille for its traditional three-slat Mercedes one, it’s smaller wheels (20 inches with this car), its bumpers seem somewhat tamer, and the exhaust tips no more poking out of the sideshow very conventional!

Mercedes-Benz G 350d Design
Mercedes-Benz G 350d Design

Some may be concerned about losing nearly 300hp and 250Nm when compared with the G63, but they should not be. The S-class-sourced 3.0-litre straight-six diesel engine (BS6 compliant, of course), with its 286hp and 600Nm, supplies more than adequate push, which comes at a lively but predictable surge instead of the gut-punch you’d receive from the highly-strung AMG V8. The diesel engine hustles this 2.5-tonne behemoth together without a fuss, but maybe not quite as easy as it might an S-class, which weighs about 400kg less! As a result, you typically hear the engine as it breeds a little more in the big G, but overall, it is still quite refined. And though the straight-six notice is nicer than the older V6 diesel’s, if you want sound, you can’t conquer AMG’s V8.

Where it will beat the AMG is about running costs, but make no mistake, even though the more sensible engine, the G 350d’s cuboid proportions, and heavy hardware mean it could never really be called fuel-efficient. Though we didn’t do a proper fuel-economy test, the automobile’s real-time readouts revealed single-digit figures every time we used the accelerator pedal.

If you believe this’lesser’ variant gives any of the G-Wagen’s legendary off-road capacity, you’d be dead wrong. Rigid rear axle, 241mm floor clearance, 700mm water-wading capability, virtually hilarious approach, ramp-over and departure angles, low selection and — the celebration trick — three locking differentials; the whole nine yards. It has also got those attribute, old-school G-class touches such as flared wheel arches, fender-top front indicators, the spare wheel on the side-hinged tailgate, push-button door handles, exposed door hinges, and — my favorite — locks that make an explosive’clack’ when they engage.

The inside is appropriately modern, using Merc’s excellent dual-screen infotainment and instrumentation unit, but, it is not the latest MBUX touchscreen system you’ll find on the new GLE elsewhere in this situation. However, it’s worth noting that a lot of this is optional, which might drive up the price fast. Lots of stuff is optional though.

And here’s what at Rs 1.5 crore (ex-showroom), the G 350d is still very costly. Though a G63 may cost 50 percent greater, this one, in turn, costs 50 percent greater than Merc’s other huge SUV, the GLS. And that is before options. Furthermore, though you can forgive a good deal of the AMG G63’s defects because of how ridiculous an indulgence it is, this more sensible G 350d lends itself to greater scrutiny, akin to other huge luxury SUVs. The back seat, even though spacious, is nowhere near as comfy, fuel economy is not good by diesel standards, rear visibility is dreadful, due to the spare wheel, although it has elastic dampers, the ride quality is quite lumpy.

The diesel G-Wagen, then, is a bit of an anomaly. While buyers of most luxury cars are happy to settle for a more compact engine when it means getting a prestigious badge at a more reasonable cost, does this still apply when the cost is north of Rs 1.5 crore? You are certainly getting the best of both worlds — the rugged appeal of a G-class (such as that insane off-road ability, should you ever need it) — in a package that is more economical to buy and operate. Still, we suspect that the majority of people who’ve decided to splurge on an indulgence like a G-Wagen will be delighted to go the entire hog and get the AMG.

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