The interior layout, fit and finish
Few will have trouble getting comfortable behind the wheel of a G-Class. The steering wheel, seat and pedals all line up nicely and there’s a reasonable amount of room for your left foot. Unlike in previous generations, plentiful interior width means you won’t feel hemmed in, either. However, while the electric seats with memory function are standard, it’s disappointing that adjustable lumbar support is strictly optional. However, you can go one better and add a sumptuous massaging seat function instead.
Settle behind the flat-bottomed steering wheel and you’re greeted by a pair of 12.3in digital displays – one for infotainment and one in place of conventional dials. Both are configurable and easy to read and have pin-sharp graphics.
Although the infotainment system is primarily controlled by a rotary dial between the front seats, there’s also a touchpad that you can use to enter handwriting when entering addresses into the sat-nav, for instance. Alternatively, you can use the touch-sensitive pads on the steering wheel, the left one controlling infotainment and the right controlling the dials. These can be a bit annoying, though; unintentional contact can cause the infotainment system to change radio stations.
While that all sounds a bit confusing, you soon learn to operate the system fairly instinctively. And, aside from the slightly confusing menu structure and occasionally laggy inputs, it’s a system that is beaten only by BMW’s iDrive. Android Auto and Apple CarPlay are standard, while a decent-sounding 590W Burmester surround-sound hi-fi can be added as part of Mercedes’ Premium Package.
Meanwhile, the car’s unusually flat, upright windscreen and that high driving position mean visibility is generally very good. The car's square sides and prominent front corners make it easy to place on the road and most of the windows are huge. Rearward visibility is an exception, though; the tailgate-mounted spare wheel partially obscures your view through the rear screen and makes reversing a little tricky. Still, parking help is at hand from a standard 360deg camera system, although this is easily obscured by any mud you might pick up along adventurous routes.
Elsewhere, buttons and other controls work with pleasing precision and there are enough traditional G-Class design cues – the passenger grab handle and three centrally positioned diff lock buttons – to remind you of what you’re sitting in. Even the way the doors shut – or perhaps we should say slam – harks back to G-Classes of old, while the central locking operates with a satisfying clonk.