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Mercedes-Benz G-Wagen is really beefy, but really expensive

February 23, 2013 12:00:00 AM PST
You've probably seen the odd-looking Mercedes-Benz SUV on the road, looking like some kind of Euro jeep. It's actually the oldest brand-new production vehicle you can buy.

"The G-Class was commissioned in about the mid-1970s for certain countries who wanted really versatile military applications," said Christian Bokich, spokesman for Mercedes-Benz. "Some of those were in Europe, the Middle East, and all over the world."

It might be an old design, but it's got a certain cache. Doors that shut with authority, and even the doors' locks sound as though they were designed for Fort Knox.

Size-wise, it's not enormous. But it does exude beefy, heavy-duty swagger and luxury.

The base G550 is $113,000. It's crammed with every feature that Mercedes was able to add to its Cold War-era structure. It's crazy expensive, because it's not your average Mercedes-Benz.

"This car is hand-built, which justifies the price over $100,000," Bokich said. "It's made in Austria by realy craftsmen who really put this car together."

Gas mileage? Don't even ask. It's terrible. But the power is there to move with authority, rumbling through side-exit exhausts. If you do want to take it off road, it's more than capable thanks to locking differentials. After all, it's a rugged military-spec vehicle underneath.

If you really want to make some speed, there's an AMG version for an extra 20 grand. Mega horsepower and even more swagger, it accelerates better than a vehicle that looks like this probably has a right to.

The cachet of the G class, or G-Wagen as it's known, is not lost on Hollywood either. Movie stars love them. Bruce Willis takes one for an on-screen thrill ride in the newest "Die Hard" movie.

All of this is keeping the G in showrooms after all these years.

"We expect it to be around for a very, very, long, long time, and they certainly won't rust," Bokich said.


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