The 2017 Mercedes-Benz G-Professional 300 CDi is a member of the military and civilian G-Class family which is the second oldest vehicle in production for the three-pointed star brand behind the Unimog 4×4 truck which started life in 1947.
The current G-Professional cab/chassis which is now available in New Zealand is a civilian version of the G-Class Military and is an unadulterated no-frills but awesomely capable off-road workhorse.
The G 300 CDI cab-chassis makes no apologies for it’s serious workhorse demeanour with easily cleaned black vinyl upholstery on the two front seats, and rubber floor mats covering a painted metal floor.
It’s the only vehicle we’ve yet driven at Autocar Commercial which comes with a water drain plug in the floor on both sides of the cabin, with a chain attached to each, so they not lost while the floor is being cleaned out or drained after a water crossing.
The G-Professional cab/chassis has a 253mm ground clearance and it can wade through fresh water up to 650mm in depth.
Jumping into the cabin you quickly discover there is no radio, no bluetooth, no cupholder, no electric windows, and one simple key opens the door and starts the ignition.
However, central locking, power steering, and air-conditioning are part of the the standard equipment, as is electronic stability control and front airbags.
It has the aerodynamics of a house brick, and Noah’s Ark had a better turning circle than the permanent all-wheel-drive G-Professional, but that won’t bother it’s intended buyer demographic.
This not a suburban cafe cruiser but rather a tough and hard working off-road focussed vehicle that is better suited to the needs of buyers from civil construction, forestry, farming, utility companies, as well as fire and emergency services.
Despite minimal seat adjustment and the steering column being in a fixed position, it is easy enough to get comfortable behind the wheel in the G-Professional cab/chassis.
The familiar Benz all-in-one indicator/wiper control stick is mounted to the left hand side of the steering wheel, and the combination analogue/digital speedo/tachometer are easily viewed and understood.
There is a plethora of switches on the dashboard amongst which are the front and rear fog lamp buttons, as well as the temperature and air circulation controls, and a switch to use when jump starting the vehicle, as well as another two which can control engine speed when the alternator is under a heavy load.
For normal on-road driving the all-wheel-drive system with Electronic Stability Control keeps the G-Professional on the straight and narrow.
For off-road work engaging the low range transfer gearbox and locking the front, middle, and rear differential is made easy by simply pressing a succession of buttons while on the move, and the mechanical systems engage while the electronics are dismissed for better traction and maneuverability in grass, mud, sand, snow and rocky conditions.
Surprisingly for a vehicle with a raised ride height, a square boxy cabin and a flat windscreen, the wind noise created at the open road speed limit of 100 km/h isn’t as bad as we expected, and with the windows closed, conversation can take place without the occupants needing to raise their voices.
However, with the window fully open at high speed, it’s a different story, better to keep it closed and run the air conditioning instead.
There’s not a lot of soundproofing between the cabin and the engine bay, the turbodiesel engine provides plenty of rumble during brisk acceleration and there’s quite a cacophony of turbocharger whistle and induction noises during lift-off deceleration as well.
Without a load on the rear aluminium tray or a trailer on the tow hitch, the ride quality of the G-Professional is very stiff on the tarmac, and manoeuvring the beast in tight city streets and suburban car parks is challenging, swinging wide, or doing a two or three point turn to get out of a parking space is often the order of the day.
The 3-litre V6 turbodiesel is a lusty beast and pushes an unladen G-Professional off the line surprisingly quickly, but the steering is quite heavy despite power assistance, and the driver has to vigilant when maintaining lane discipline on a motorway at open road speed as the handling is quite truck-like due to the raised off-road suspension package.
The G-Professional needs a steady hand at the helm as she does tend to wander off-course if the captain isn’t paying attention.
Unlike more contemporary Mercedes-Benz vehicles this one doesn’t come with all the electronic driver assistance aids that we have become too reliant on.
The one benefit of the box-like non-aerodynamic body in conjunction with the engine-braking ability of the engine and five-speed auto is that simply lifting off the throttle will see a rapid reduction in road speed.
Driving off the beaten track is where the G-Professional is happiest, and where the robust chassis and suspension come into their own. During an excursion onto a remote sheep and beef station the G-Professional was surprisingly comfortable when bouncing over some pretty rutted ground, and the long travel throttle allowed smooth progress as the going got rough.
Thanks to an approach angle of 38 degrees and a departure angle up to as much as 29 degrees this Mercedes-Benz can go much further off-road than your average mid-size 4×4 pick-up.
Unlike its fellow Mercedes-Benz siblings the option packages for the G-Professional are more targeted to commercial applications, and this includes a body building enhancement package for the mounting of service bodies, a winch preparation package and an electrical enhancement package.
Buyers can also choose a reinforced walk on bonnet, heated driver and front passenger seat, a cyclone air filter, and a second full size spare wheel.
Mercedes-Benz also offers a colour choice of non-metallic black, desert sand, deep orange, flame red, and fir green for G-Professional buyers.
The closest market competitor to the G-Professional 300 CDI cab/chassis would be the single cab version of the venerable Toyota Land Cruiser 70 series single cab/chassis, though Mercedes-Benz might be inclined to disagree.
|Model||Mercedes-Benz G 300 CDI Cab Chassis||Price||$129,900|
|Engine||2987cc, 6-Cylinder, 135kW/400Nm||Drivetrain||5-speed auto|
|Fuel Use||11.7L/100km||C02 Output||0g/km|
|0-100km/h||0.00 sec||Weight||2346kg kerb weight|
|Service||3 year / 200,000km warranty||Load||5.2m3 volume, 2537m length, 1387m height|
|Vitals||4490kg GVM, 2085kg payload,||Vitals||2100kg towing capacity|