But there's also a new diesel model. We may associate G-Wagens in the UK with G63s rollin' on 22s but of the couple of hundred or so sold each year the diesel is the majority. Across Europe the old G400 had forged itself a reputation as the off-road engine to have, a mantle that now has to be taken on by the G350d. A V8 has been replaced by a V6, with power down slightly at 245hp compared to 251 but torque up at 442lb ft as opposed to 412 previously. It's also, says Mercedes, the most efficient G-Class ever, with 261g/km of CO2 and 28.5mpg combined. It's all relative...
On the road it's surprising to discover how refined the G-Wagen is actually. Inevitably the shape means wind noise becomes an issue and the driving position is awkward but the powertrain suits it very nicely. There's huge torque, the shifts are quick enough and the interior is just like any other Merc but higher up. Of course it can't fully disguise its origins, the slow and vague steering the most obvious giveaway, but a G-Wagen on the road is far more liveable than you might think.
Telling you about a G-Wagen on the road is a bit daft though. It's commuting in a Caterham, or doing a track day in a Rolls-Royce. It is possible to do, but rather missing the point. To the off-road course...
'Off-Road Zentrum' with two of the three diffs locked and low range when required, the G500 is mighty. That engine pulls from very few revs, the square shape means visibility is great and the car feels invincible. Ascents, descents, rock crawls, wading; it doesn't feel at all stretched where you know others would struggle. All the time accompanied by a great V8 burble from the side-exit exhausts. Just like endlessly lapping the Caterham or covering 500 miles in one hit with a Rolls-Royce, it's one of those motoring experiences that will raise a smile because the vehicle is so perfectly suited.
But the analogy continues further in making a rational case for the G-Wagen. Alright, so that's probably more applicable just to the Caterham but such is the compromise inherent in the big Merc that any objective argument will always be difficult. The G350d costs £87K, a huge amount of money and more than a lot of SUVs which will be much more pleasant on the road.
Which, let's face it, is where the majority of them will spend their time. Fans of the G-Wagen will continue to enjoy the car, and those who have never really got it still won't see the point. It could easily be argued Mercedes is selling enough to not worry about the latter, especially when it now offers so many other SUVs to cater for them. The G-Wagen's singularity of purpose is admirable, even when masked somewhat by the trappings of 21st century luxury. It is still a silly choice as an everyday 4x4 but as an addition to a collection and as a motoring icon, the G-Wagen remains as imperious as ever.
Engine: 2,987cc, V6 diesel
Transmission: 7G-Tronic seven-speed automatic, four-wheel drive
Power (hp): 245@3,600rpm
Torque (lb ft): 443@1,600-2,400rpm
0-62mph: 8.8 seconds
Top Speed: 119mph
MPG: 28.5 (NEDC combined)
Engine: 5,461cc, V8 bi-turbo
Transmission: AMG Speedshift seven-speed auto, four-wheel drive
Power (hp): 571@5,500rpm
Torque (lb ft): 561@1,750-5,000rpm
0-62mph: 5.4 seconds
Top Speed: 130mph
MPG: 17 (NEDC combined)