It is always difficult to write about these cars, primarily because of the monstrous amount of information. Even if we leave alone the initial period of the life cycle of the model with the lost competition for SUV for the Bundeswehr, failed Iranian order and a rather painful entry into civilian markets, and the starting point for us will be 1990, when the second generation G-Klasse at the Frankfurt Motor Show was presented, which received the factory designation W463, it is still very and very much …
Unlike the “primary” W460 generation W463 was originally designed for civilian customers, which determined the direction of changes. In addition, if the cars W460 and W461 were more Puch, rather than Mercedes, in the development of a new SUV designers from Stuttgart took the most active part, because without them it would be difficult to implement in a simple design of the army car all the necessary at any given time the comfort and safety systems. It is the introduction of such systems (together with a constant increase in engine power) has become the main direction of development of the model for many years.
However, only a detailed consideration of the evolution of the W463 from 1990 to 2018 can turn a brief introductory part in a multi-page monograph, so I will not do it, especially since our publication has already published material devoted to this topic.
There were 21 variants of gasoline engines under the hood of the W463 (in different periods) with cubic capacity from 1996 to 5980 cm, number of cylinders from 4 to 12 and power from 113 to 630 hp, and 10 different turbocharged or full diesel engines, from in-line five-cylinder OM602 with only 94 hp to V8 “eight” OM628 with 250 hp. Some of these engines could be connected with a 5-speed manual transmission, but the vast majority of cars were equipped with manual transmission: first, from 1990 to 1995, the 4G-Tronic, then, from 1996 to 2006, 5G-Tronic (G55 AMG version until 2012), and finally, in recent years, the car was equipped with a seven-speed gearbox 7G-Tronic. With all the variety (in terms of installed engines and equipped with a variety of systems), all produced versions have a frame design, permanent four-wheel drive, a lowered number of gears in the transfer case and a dependent spring-spring suspension.
The phenomenon of “Gelendwagen” will attract journalists, marketing experts and scientists engaged in social psychology for a long time: how is it possible that a utilitarian army off-road vehicle, the mere appearance of which immediately evokes the word “Panzerwafferegiment commander”, with all the pros and cons of such cars, turned into the most expensive, the most desired, the most prestigious model in the market, a symbol of success in life and a style icon?
We are interested in the answer to another, also not so simple question: does it make sense to buy this car in the secondary market for a person with average income? Will such purchase become realization of a long-standing dream or it will turn out to be a fatal mistake? This is the question we will try to deal with on the basis of available reviews on the Internet.
Hate #5: Age and “tired” cars
The winged expression “G-wagen has no age, only condition” walks the Internet, and if you cast a first glance at the prices of the secondary market, it may seem quite fair. For example, one of the most expensive offers today turned out to be a 1999 G500 convertible for sale for 8.8 million rubles, and a 2003 or 2005 car can cost as much or more than SUVs that left the assembly shop in 2015, 5.6 million versus 5.2-5.3 million.
The same picture at the bottom of the price range: for a 1990 car with mileage over 400,000 rubles can be asked for 890,000, and for 2001 (and with mileage as if only 100,000) – 849,000. It seems to be an opportunity to find the exact car you are looking for… In fact, it is much easier to buy a big box with problems in a beautiful package, because the age in this case is very important, and Helendas age just like any other car. It’s just that their age-related sorenesses can hide quite deep and not catch the eye on cursory inspection. Let’s take, for example, continuous axles.
In opinion of many people, who do not take the trouble to penetrate into technical details, there is “nothing to break there”. The more serious is the shock, when it becomes clear that the front axle is the most vulnerable and expensive unit for repair of SUV with dependent suspension. Joints of front wheels drives, knuckles, dust covers, bearings – all these things should be taken care of, and if the previous owner did not take care of it, the new owner will have all expensive repair.
For example, the hub bearings need adjustment at every service, and many services simply tighten them by eye. The same applies to driveshafts: if the driveshafts are not sealed, the crosspieces quickly break, and vibrations begin to occur, which in turn lead to problems with the axles. In general, due to the increased loads all nodes of transmission and running gear without proper maintenance very quickly come to preinfarction state.
Already at a mileage of 100 thousand, as a rule, springs and shock-absorbers should be replaced, especially if the car was frequently driven with full load. The steering damper can also cause much trouble. The car can be quite in running order, but the suspension can be neglected up to such condition, that replacement of rubber-metal joints is not enough, and installation of new longitudinal arms or even frame traverses will be needed.
Have you decided that it is not necessary to crumble and try your luck with middle-aged cars? Here you can face a lot of tricky things from the infamous VG150 transfer case. The inscription “TC IN NEUTRAL”, lighting up on the dashboard, became the nightmare for many owners of such cars. Imagine: you drive out in the morning, stop at a light, and suddenly, bam! – the car is going nowhere. The shifting mechanism is lubricated with oil only during driving, that is why it tends to wear out, and as a result the electronic control unit looses control of the fork position and the mode in which the box works. After the first appearance of such symptoms switching from High to Low and back can help, the actuator twitches back and forth, finds a new position, and for a while everything goes back to normal, but with time the disease appears again with depressing inevitability.
There are enough problems with electrics. It is possible to face with broken wiring of doors at 5 year old cars, and at 10 year old cars sometimes it may be necessary to change wiring harness as a whole. The reasons are different, most often related to the mode of operation. Thus, the under-hood harness does not like to drive over the muddy water and sand in the corrugations, and the saloon one – over the moisture because of the eternally leaking tailgate.
But the main problem of old Geelandwagens is no doubt the corrosion of the body. The owners are complaining that it is the most rusty Mercedes of all model range. Here you could argue and compare with W220, W210 or W203, but there you can put it all down to unsuccessful painting technologies of the turn of the century, and the Helic is rotting because of design flaws, and at any age. The outside hinges of a one-year old car can already leave rust spots on light paint (on forums they suggest to struggle with this trouble, by inserting grease nipples into hinges). The frame of windshield by 5 years old often already has almost through corrosion, the bottom parts of doors and area of roof valley by the same age, as a rule, all in “bubbles”. The body is rusting on the joints of rear wings and along the edge of trunk, the hood is rusting, supports of body and shock-absorbers on frame are “rotting”, under the plastic covers around sills extensive rust spots are quickly developing. At last, it is important, that a VIN of a car is stamped on a frame in area of front wheel arch. This area will be constantly humid and hot, it is constantly exposed to the impacts of sand and stones flying from under the wheels, and if there is a center of severe corrosion, the license plate becomes unreadable and you cannot register the car normally.
The list of problems the buyer of used G-Klasse can face can be endless, but it is important to understand that the depth of the abyss of problems, in which he can plunge, depends on, in whose hands the car was before. Not without reason very many experienced owners strongly recommend to look for the car (without fail “in stock”), which passport has only one owner.
The fact is that the body and running gear of the Geland has not been changed for a couple of decades. It allows “cool kids” to realize their childhood dreams, to buy a car for 1.5-2 million, to fit it with an appropriate bodykit, and it will look the same as the 5-8 million rubles version. It is clear that the “young and energetic” for whom “the image is everything” operate such cars in the same “kid’s” style: full throttle and go at top speed, not noticing the hillocks and potholes. It is a “Gelend”, it has no fear! I had no time to drive in and apply pressure to driveshafts – some other time…
At the end it starts clunking when switching gearboxes – no big deal. Then vibration appeared – no big deal. The axle leaks? Don’t give a damn. Transmission rumbles at speed? Turn up the music and keep going… That’s all – the transmission, which was designed for eternity, has successfully died. We’ll have to go to the service station, they’ll fix it. “Hey, guys, look what I’ve got! The axle, the driveshafts and the transfer case? How much does it cost? HOW MUCH? Are you crazy, I paid less for the whole car! No, this toilet bowl is for sale. And they said the legend doesn’t break down… It’s nonsense, not a car. I shall buy Land Cruiser better”.
Alas, a great number of “Gelendvagens” of different age and different generations belong exactly to such category “run to bits”, therefore the whole treatises are devoted not in vain to how exactly one should choose Mercedes G-Klasse and what one should pay attention to.
Love #5: Reliability and endurance
Nevertheless the majority of owners name reliability as the main advantage of “Gelendwagen”. “I’ve owned it for 15 years. I own it for 15 years. It really is a TANK!”, “Now the odometer reads 407 000 km. I personally drove 45 000 km. Guys! Not a single breakdown, not one! This despite the fact that I go to work on, to put it mildly, not very good roads…”, “5 years of operation in Moscow, 180,000 km of mileage, no complaints. For all time have been in the service (not counting the TO and all sorts of embellishments such as installing dodgers), well, a couple of times”, “Tell the truth, the most reliable car on the engine and frame, can withstand just unimaginable loads. The first time flew at speed 100 with a height of 2 m 30 cm (measured) – geometry is not gone a millimeter, the second time – fell asleep on the highway at a speed of 110 (driving on cruise), went into a ditch, knocked down two pines with a diameter of 300 and 200 mm, the result is the same.
However, there are enough reviews on the Internet, in which a diametrically opposite opinion is expressed: “As for the reliability of the car, it is absent at all”. Here is, for example, such a story: “G350CDI 2014. Mileage at the moment 65,000 km. During this time at 8 thousand km door hinges flew, painting under warranty. At 19 thousand km rust appeared on the hood and windshield frame, painting under warranty. At 32k km the gearbox 722.9 started clunking and jerking. After firming it up at the dealer under warranty and it kinda helped, although there were slight jerks. At 38k km. all electronic equipment at the rear (washer, camera, power windows) died. Replaced SAM unit under warranty. Vibration at 54k miles, but warranty expired. Replaced complete rear driveshaft, shattered crossover. My car stopped on highway at 61k miles. My box died, 722.9. They diagnosed the electronic board died and replaced the whole thing. My car reached 65,000 km and now I got traction and floating revolutions problems. They recommended to cut EGR and reflash the unit. Only one thing makes me happy: I bought the car for 4.3 million, and now it costs the same 4.3 million on the market this year… ».
Owners mention in their comments that Relatively recent models are often less reliable than older models: “If a prestyled GELIK was before Restyling and you were lucky with previous owners, it’s not likely that the car will be unreliable”, “The best W463 is with 5-liter engine M113, 1998-2001, it is reliable and qualitative”, “Alas, but the further it goes, the worse and less quality it is. After selling G270 I had a thought to get either 2-3 year old, or even a new G350, thank goodness the finances allowed. But after I looked a couple of cars in ads, as well as after I went to the dealer, I abandoned the idea.
Also, one should not confuse reliability and endurance. The G-wagen with its military genes is really enduring all adversities and fulfills its duties up to the last opportunity. In many reviews the authors mention, that before something finally fails, the automobile warns you repeatedly, that it will drive to the last, even at failure of important details in the engine, not to mention about a suspension, and that in case of breakage the “Gelend”, sneezing and puffing, will reach home. Alas, this endurance encourages careless owners to neglect maintenance of cars, thinking that if the car is as simple as a cast-iron iron, and looks the same, then it is not necessary to take care of it.
On the other hand, the mileage of 20-year-old cars exceeded 500-600 thousand kilometers, but they are not going to the junkyard and continue to dissect the expanses of our country: “I had 4 Gelandwagens at different intervals. All of them were bought unworn, all of them were repaired during operation. Only original parts were used, oils were replaced with the ones recommended by the manufacturer (bought at stores with guarantee of the original), filters were also carefully purchased with quality control. In the end the car is very reliable, if you change a part, in your lifetime you will not change it a second time. The engine will easily pass 500 000 km and more without any intervention (this also concerns expansion joints and oil seals), the suspension system – only springs and shock absorbers will need replacement, and even after 200 000 km, cardan joints and hubs will run untold distance after regular maintenance”.
All this is especially fair, that among engines with which for all these long years the G-wagen was equipped, there are many recognized millionaires. But one simple thought sounds in many responses: it is not necessary to chase the cheapest variants, because purchase of such car will inevitably appear connected with very serious financial expenses for repair and restoration.
Hate #4: The price of parts and maintenance
Alas, the spare parts for G-wagen are not just expensive, but very expensive, so the person who has decided to buy an old Helik for restoration should think if he has enough “gold reserve” for it. There are enough heart-rending stories on the internet about a person who bought a car for several hundreds of thousands and in the first year had to invest a couple million dollars for repair. As a result, very many authors of reviews consider the price of spare parts, maintenance and repair as almost the main disadvantage of this car.
“The cost of spare parts for this cart is simply outrageous! For the sake of interest I went on Euroavto: a used fender costs 40,000! I had an air conditioner radiator replaced after purchase – a new one costs 70k, used ones are impossible to find. You can’t find anything for this car, if you need to repair it, almost everything is original and only to order”, “Spare parts – that’s really expensive if you take the original ones”. And the parts are many times more expensive, not only in comparison with non-original or similar parts for other brands.
This is how one of the owners describes the situation: “The main problem of the Helic is the insane cost of spare parts and service. One and the same part can differ in cost dozens of times for a Helic and for another Mercedes. For example, the parts from “Sprinter” with the same engine are 10-15 times cheaper. Almost all owners have faced the fact that in any service center you have to say that you have a “Gelandwagen”, and the repairmen at once begin to flash numbers in their eyes, like the pike from the cartoon “Last Year’s Snow Has Fallen”, and the usual price tag rises by 2-3 times, if not more. The phrase “what do you want, it’s a Gelendwagen” is heard by any owner, and many times. All this leads to that the owners are trying to save money on service, and it, in its turn, leads to that the most part of cars sold in the secondary market remains in a state of half-ruins.
This is especially true for the diesel version of the 400D. This engine is famous for its excellent tractive power and provides very decent dynamics, but it categorically does not tolerate low-quality fuel, the use of which quickly leads to the need to replace the injectors. And injectors cost (in pre-crisis prices) 15,780 roubles, and the cost of work is 4600 roubles, and that is for each one. And there are eight of them, by the way…
Those who are confident in their abilities and think that they have a golden hands and can do everything themselves, often start “kolhozit”.
However, more often it is not “kolhoz”, but “teamwork”, because the parts from other Mercedes models are used as “substitutes”. The list of possible replacements is very wide: the cabin heater is almost identical to the one installed on a commercial Mercedes 207D-309D, vacuum booster brakes and clutch housing fits from W140, hydraulic control pump – from W116-W126, oil cooler – from W126, interior’s lighting and sunroof controls – from W124.
It is possible to use parts from other brands, for example, there is an experience with installation of front springs from Toyota Land Cruiser, rear springs from Jeep Cherokee, and headlight glasses fit from VW Golf 2. However, you can find a use for parts from the domestic cars. For example, the clutch operating cylinder collar from the GAZ-24 brake repair kit, priced at 25 rubles, fits like a real one. As the kingpin bearings for knuckles are great small bearings from the hub of the VAZ classic, (of course, a decent manufacturer) for about 100 rubles. Moreover, when replacing you can not vypressovyvat external cage, and just replace the inner, adjusting the wear gaskets. Steering lugs tapered exactly the same as those from the GAZ-53, but it is desirable to put a washer under the nut thickness of 2-3 mm. From the “Gazelle” can use a muffler (he, however, does not live long) and the water pump for the pre-start heater Webasto.
Agree, such replacements are more or less acceptable if a handy enthusiast “builds” a vehicle for hunting or fishing trips, but it is inappropriate to do this for those who yearn for prestige. And here they have to commensurate their financial capabilities with the fact that the brand Mercedes, however, as any other, has its marketing policy, and the main purpose of this policy is to squeeze the maximum money out of the owner.
And if in relation to the owners of “old” cars the brand is more or less forgiving, with the owners of relatively new cars it wages a war of attrition. A typical report about purchase looks like this: “I took it to a dealer: they cleaned the radiator, changed filters, oils, coils, etc. Hundred thousand rubles was blown away like the wind. As for the body – they sandblasted the windshield frame, radiator grill, “glasses”, mirrors, door hinges, where the paint had swollen – another 50,000 rubles flew away. As a result, I haven’t even sat in the car yet, and already I’m out 150,000 rubles… ».
Love #4: capaciousness, practicality, universality
Naturally, those who want to buy “Gelendwagen” mainly for utilitarian use, for example, for trips to hard-to-reach places for hunting or fishing, should look for versions that have not gone far from the army ancestor, that is, G-wagen W460 or W461. They are simpler and have less electrics and electronics. But also W463 is appreciated by its owners for practicality and universality: “quadratic, praktish, gut!”. Probably it is not worth wasting the time and it is better to cite some citations from the reviews on the Internet: “Very practical and universal car! It is good everywhere – both on light off-road and in the city, and you can go to the theater or a restaurant with it, and the baby stroller fits in the trunk, and the dimensions are very compact and predictable due to the square design, “This is my fourth” GELIK and, most likely, not the last. It is impossible not to like this car for its beauty, brutality and versatility.
Its weaknesses (insufficient softness and smooth running, insufficient noise isolation) are at once overlapped by universality and reliability of the present SUV. It looks equally logical as for an important business meeting in the city center, and parked in a deadwood when fishing or hunting”, “I still enjoy the size of the car: “Gelend” is not big and not small in comparison with other SUVs. The luggage compartment constantly pleases with its squareness when transporting bulky cargo”.
In the majority of reviews the authors quite positively estimate the comfort in the interior, though they note a certain archaicness of its architecture. However, exactly this archaic brutality just creates a special charm. Certainly, total unanimity of opinions (as well as in many cases, when it concerns really outstanding cars) is not observed.
It is possible to meet, for example, such responses: “The car is rather big, but the interior is cramped. It’s very cramped. In the front – as if one is sitting on stools. In the back tall passengers rest against the front seats. I personally have never managed to be comfortable on the driver’s seat. We shall get back to the question of comfort, but meanwhile, to be fair we shall mention that the overwhelming majority of reviews estimate the volume of the interior quite positively: “I drive in all mother Russia and Scandinavia both for business, and with my family, and for hunting and fishing. Where necessary – a trailer, where necessary – a luggage carrier, and I put a case on the roof. And a business suit on the shoulders is always with me, and a jacket and boots for the season in the back. An axe and a lantern, of course… It’s all right!
Hate #3: Fuel Consumption and Taxes
Under the hood of the G-Klasse SUVs with the W463 body, many different engines of varying power and displacement were installed, which, of course, differed greatly in fuel consumption. But some raptures about fuel efficiency could be heard only from the owners of the versions with relatively low-volume diesels.
For example, the owner of G270CD with OM612.965 diesel engine in 2003 wrote: “At the time of buying the car was 10 years old. Overall, the car is good, the dynamics are good, and the fuel consumption is just fabulous – 7-8 liters on the road and about 10 in the city. The owner of an old G300D echoes his words: “The fuel consumption is about 10 liters of petrol. The dynamics is like a cart, but it’s enough for me”.
The owners of the versions with four-liter diesel engines estimate the consumption more calmly, without much enthusiasm, but also without irritation: “The consumption in the city is on average from 13 to 17 liters, sometimes more than 17, but rarely. Everything depends on speed, on traffic and driving style. On the highway, if you drive at a speed of 100 km / h, you can go 10.5-10.8 liters per 100 kilometers (with the manufacturer claimed 11). When driving at 70 km/h I had 7.9 liters”, “My mileage with a trailer is 13.2 l/100 km, without -12.5”, “I have G400 in the city in winter never consumed more than 18 liters. On the highway: 100-120 km/h – 14-15l/100, at 170 km/h it eats 19-21/100. On the sticky mud with connected locks – 20-23 liters”.
And the owners of powerful petrol versions, first of all the most mass, G500, quite often refer the expense to the number of essential minuses: “At the expense: it eats like a small elephant. When driving moderately, almost nauseatingly – about 20 liters. Need to drive a little faster, easily comes to 25 liters”, “The consumption in the city from 22 to 26 liters when driving quietly, if you squeeze, I came out 38 liters. I use AI-92, I don’t see any sense to fill it up with 95, I haven’t felt any difference”.
With such an appetite, it is safe to say that the “fuel” line in the family budget can exceed 100,000 roubles. And after all, there is also a tax, the size of which for powerful G400 and G500 makes 44,000-58,000 rubles, and insurance… It is clear that the attitude to these figures depends very much on the financial position of the owner. Someone will not even notice the annual expenses in the amount of couple hundred thousand rubles, but for a person with average income they turn out to be more than sensitive.
Love #3: Passability
G-Klasse, even in case of the most glamorous equipment, still belongs to the glorious cohort of professional off-roaders. Hence a friendly admiration of off-road talents of the automobile: “Passability – well, I do not know what to compare it with. Snow and water up to a mirror, but give it way!”, “The car goes everywhere you want, within the limits of reason (it does not swim in the sea, it does not fly in the sky, but in the field in winter, where there is snow up to the hood, it goes easily on ordinary winter tires)”, “Passability is the second pleasant surprise. Even without three magic buttons it is impressive. Well, if you turn them on, then you drive until you put it on axles… You just need to have the right rubber”.
The powerful frame, dependent suspension, 220 mm of minimal ground clearance (under gearbox crankcases of non-cut axles), permanent four-wheel drive, reduction gear and three locks – all this arsenal allows feeling on lack of roads more than confidently.
Mercedes-Benz G-Klasse (Br.463) 1990-n.c.
The cross-country ability of “Gelend” became a legend, but at the same time it should be noted that it has become covered with a great number of myths. In fact, it has quite understandable limits, about which a repeated participant of the Russian Trophy-raid Championship honestly says: “On lack of roads the Helic is simply useless due to its monstrous mass. It goes only if it can get to the hard – that is actually on asphalt. Any bog – and “Helik” sinks hopelessly and sits even there where cars pass on top, not destroying hard upper layer”. Really, I myself have repeatedly observed the attempts to participate in domestic trophy on G-Klasse cars, and, as a rule, without much success. The too big weight forced the Gelik drivers to winch or work with a shovel for half of the race.
But we remember where and why this truck was created in its army hypostasis. Its elements are mountain lack of roads, where the heavy car can almost always get to the hard bottom with its toothy tread, and for this reason the sportsmen participating in such cult European competition as “Croatia-trophy” regularly find themselves among the winners. And it is enough for city dwellers that G-wagen goes excellently on light and average lack of roads, much better, than many known off-roaders.
The main thing is not to put it on belly (not to be convinced once again in justice of the phrase that the steeper SUV is, the farther to run after the tractor) and not to hurry anywhere, because with heavy vehicle weight and usual rubber it is easy to puncture a tire on sharp stones, and it will be not so pleasant to drive quickly with its rigid suspension.
Hate #2: Stiffness and lack of comfort
When it comes to comfort, the owners (especially the former ones who have not managed to find a common language with the automobile) literally start to compete who will express more sarcastic words. First of all, of course, they scold smoothness and rigidity of a suspension: “One can forget about comfort, the car is not too far from UAZ. Restyles (1990-2000) are almost a copy of Uazik with zero comfort, restyles (2001 +) – more or less, but to a lighter car they are as to the moon”, “When you get in a big hole, everything in the cabin rattles and bangs, the feeling is like in the truck body”, “I own such miracle, 5,5 AMG. It was a total disappointment. Once I had to drive 250 km on the highway, I had a feeling that my spine fell in my underpants”, “I can honestly and frankly say that there was no worse car in my history! From the pluses I can note only its width: it fits perfectly on the streetcar tracks, and only when driving like that it doesn’t shake as much”.
This is followed by critical passages about the interior and the seats: “The texture of the plastic is really like in the cars of the 90’s, the buttons are like in old Mercedes, the seats are a separate song, it seems to me, they were created on the principle “how to make it as uncomfortable as possible”, “As for the interior – bad smelling interior because of the cheap plastic and eco leather (leatherette). Inconveniently located window opening buttons, door handles, brake pedal. The rear sofa doesn’t unfold and is not adjustable at all, which is not suitable for long journeys and sleeping in the car”, “The seats are uncomfortable, that is at all. The comparison is very simple – can you imagine the front seats of VAZ-2105? They are the same in “GELIK”, only in leather and with ventilation. When you go long distances it makes sense to buy a Chinese masseur for 1000 rubles at a roadside cafe, otherwise you won’t be able to straighten up and go to a meeting squatting”.
In general, according to sayers, G-Klasse is a very rigid, clumsy and not at all comfortable car. It is a brick on wheels. Having bought this car, you will suffer with your back in a couple hundred kilometers, and any person (healthy, sick, drunk, sober, lame, oblique) is doomed to suffer not depending on a position in the interior, though the driver will be the first to feel sad. You will suffer on long-distance runs, and having moved after it in Zhiguli or Volga, you will be pleasantly surprised with the level of inordinate comfort, well, the Ford Focus will seem a top of engineering in the field of care about the passengers and driver. You will be bothered with vibrations, which you can spend an eternity eliminating, and aerodynamic noises at speed, because aerodynamics of this car is comparable with a closet only.
But this kind of attack does not go unanswered! Literally in neighboring reviews you can read the stories of people who flew in one sitting from Dusseldorf to Moscow or from Moscow to Helsinki, stories about how they regularly go on vacation with their families to Murmansk region or to Kazakhstan, that they are most excited about comfort… Who is right? Apparently, everyone has his own truth, and in such a subjective matter as an assessment of comfort, you should not rely on other people’s praise or fierce criticism. You just have to try it for yourself and make sure whether it is your car or not.
Love #2: Dynamics
Clearly, the dynamic capabilities of a particular version of the G-Klasse depend on the engine installed. Well, since the evolution of this car has followed the path of increasing power, for so many owners, it is the dynamic capabilities that have become the most important factor. “Acceleration and exhaust – as it should! 6,1 seconds up to a hundred on such brick is more than worthy!”, “Prado has a rest in acceleration. It is understandable – the difference in a hundred horses,” “It is easy to accelerate as in the city and on the highway, overtaking at 140 km / h – no problem, and prepare in advance and accelerate no need”, “The engine – the bomb. This square brick accelerates like a fighter jet, it has a 300 hp Mercedes engine after all. And the sound of the exhaust system… is fabulous. In general, it picks up speed perfectly, but it is uncomfortable to drive over 130”. All of these praises apply to the five-liter gasoline V8, but the 4-liter diesel looks in this respect very decent: “250 horsepower car accelerates to 100 km / h in 10 seconds and a maximum speed of 180 km / h on the passport (although I accelerated up to 200). But it is not a style of driving for “GELIK”, and the diesel engine does not like such revolutions”.
In general, none of the owners in any review never complained about the slowness of the car or any problems with overtaking on the highway. But it is necessary to take into account, that “Gelend” is able to drive fast, but… does not like. Here is quite adequate opinion of one of owners, by the way, the owner of car servicing service Mercedes: “Having put 5 liters in “Gelend”, Mercedes wanted to get power, prestige and acceleration. Notice: not speed, but acceleration. Do you feel the difference? And acceleration is not of a type “constantly rush to the floor”, but smoother and flatter. Is it necessary to say, that the load on the transmission (gearbox, cardan joints, axle drives) is awful, and, naturally, they do not live long. How many cars from GON or escort of simple VIPs, or simply from ever hurrying scruffy brothels appear in the secondary market? Every other five-liter car is from there… ». But even knowing all this, many owners of Geelandwagens continue driving in a “half-pedal” mode – the temptation is too great.
Hate #1: Maneuverability
Well, yes, Gelandwagens can drive fast and really fast… But the problem is in that suspension design inherited by W463 from its military ancestors means also some problems with handling. I had a chance to drive the most powerful models G-wagen, including 570 hp G 63 AMG, and every time I felt like baron Karl Friedrich Hieronim von Munchausen, flying at reconnaissance on a cannonball. You fly fast, but controlling the flight is quite a task…
Their authors are in solidarity with me in most reviews: “Controllability – I thought what to write, and I can come up with only one thing: there is none! “The Cube” goes either fast, but only straight, or very slow, but confident, and then ready for turns”, “Management is absent as a class. It feels like a mustang (a feral house horse): there is a lot of power, but it is not clear what to do with it. I repeat: it is absolutely useless car on a freeway, at least with the engine 5,5 liters. I want to “push”, but it goes straight ahead”, “You don’t drive it, you really work with it, I was terrified of going further than 100 km, because it was a real test for my sins! Many mention the need to constantly steer and catch the car on uneven asphalt, as well as the fact that the car strongly dislikes longitudinal rutting.
Of course, there’s also the opposite viewpoint: “How’s it going? It’s great! I flew from Moscow to Zurich in one sitting in winter, on all types of roads. I’ve never felt so confident before. And it’s not true about the rut, it flies like an arrow, keeping the trajectory even at 170”. But we must be fair: one can hear raptures about handling of G-Klasse much more seldom than harsh criticism, and even the author of the cited laudatory quotation agrees that one should take into account a full drive, height of a car body and high location of its center of gravity, so one should not try to pass the turns as if you drive a sport car laid out on asphalt. There are absolutely other models for such style of driving, including – with three-beam star on a hood. By the way, among them is the latest generation Geländewagen, presented in the summer of 2018. The car received a completely new body (which at the same time looks exactly the same as the old one), independent front suspension, which radically changed its behavior on the asphalt. I just still do not understand why the company decided to keep the old index W463 for this model, although its structural difference with previous generations of “Gelend” is much more than between the W463 and the “army” W460/W461.
Love #1: Image and charisma
Clumsy, bumpy, rigid, not too comfortable, with awful drivability and absurdly expensive to operate… So why Geländewagen remains a Dream-car, the car of dreams and a symbol of success for three decades already? Why is it called a “style icon”, although its creators wrote that they did not think about design at all?
Dozens of articles were written about this inexplicable phenomenon, but there was no answer. Only because it is the car for true fans? “Square, ugly, but reliable (with correct exploitation), representative, powerful, capacious, safe… Or because grown-up boys of 90th have finally received an opportunity to realize their dream, which seemed to them absolutely unattainable? Or because they simply wanted to be in the same company as world celebrities? – Among the owners of “Gelend” were Timati and Tina Turner, Arnold Schwarzenegger and Mikhail Zhvanetsky, the Pope and Cristiano Ronaldo, Michael Douglas and Evgeny Plushenko, Bruce Willis and Evgeny Kafelnikov and many, many others? And maybe it was affected by the quantity of films, in which G-Klasse was shot: “Shadow Fighting-2”, “Courier from paradise”, “Hitman”, “The shadow of Yakuza”, “The Bourne advantage”, “Gloss”… And in infinite Russian series “Gelend” appears with unusual regularity, regularly emphasizing both gangster essence of negative heroes, and courageous resoluteness of positive.
In any case purchase of G-Klasse turns out to be the ticket to other world. The world, in which rudeness and lawlessness have disappeared from roads. The mad pedestrians that rushed under a car as if they gathered for their last journey and chose your car as a suicide instrument disappeared from this world. Gone were the “loudmouths” with their tuned-up junk cars and the lunatic Gazelle drivers, who used to impersonate Gastello. Traffic cops have become very polite – they don’t notice any petty tricks, and if they stop them sometimes, they behave extremely politely. Here is how one of the owners writes about it: “My main impression is the surprise at how the car reacts to the neighbors in the traffic. If the Porsche is looked at, but when redesigning, they do not let go (apparently out of principle), and the Multivan is not seen at all, even though the car in the comfort version was bought for $100,000, and even more do not want to miss the bus when redesigning, because such cars “carry paint,” as someone told me, the Geländewagen – is something else entirely. Everyone’s got some kind of respectful attitude that’s incomprehensible… You can drive across the lane without a turn signal, and no one even blinks. Traffic police officers have repeatedly released the wife without documents. In a word – the car has charisma… ».
Also “Gelendwagen” can be easily modified “under the owner”. Someone decides to make it a tank for off-road driving, and someone prefers to put dodgers and low-profile rubber and to transform the car into “a press for air”. In a word, it is an ideal constructor for people with thick enough purse (or with moderately thick purse and skilful hands).
If a person happens to be on the same wave with Helend, he will come back to it again and again, even if for some time decides to have a rest from its brutal severity and to buy something more comfortable: “As the former owner of Helendwagen I shall tell that you either love it and forgive it all discomfort and dearness of service, or buy something Solaris-like and do not whine. Personally I have owned Teana, Pajero, Murano and Prado after “GELIK”, but I still miss it and want “a cube” again. Let it be uncomfortable, uncontrollable, illiquid, expensive and awful, but a cube!”.
So, those who have been dreaming about “Gelendwagen” for a long time may be advised: if you have a dream, don’t postpone it for later, we live only once! Well and in case of failure, if you have a thought “I wish the dream and remained a dream,” it is possible to calm down the phrase of Winston Churchill: “The great advantage is he who made a mistake early. This lover of cigars and good cognac knew what he was talking about…