On a road trip your car becomes your home. Hotels and rental houses are places to wash off the dirt, brew a pot of coffee and spend the night, but the car’s where you store your gear, grab a nap, shoot the shit, warm up from foul weather and change your clothes. It’s your dwelling and your roaming command center. And when you’re in conveyance like the Mercedes-Benz G350 BlueTEC, that’s the equivalent of being wrapped in animal skins in a mansion beneath the SIS Building in London, grinning.
The G in G-Class is short for Geländewagen, which means cross country vehicle to those of us who speak German, and it was just what came to mind when we decided to set out for a pan-Scotland road trip that took us from Glasgow, to Loch Lomand & The Trossachs National Park, to the Isle of Skye, to Cairngorms National Park, to Edinburgh and then back to Glasgow — all told an adventure that stretched out close to 1,000 miles with detours, pit stops and impromptu fly fishing trips.
Those little things include the sound of a rifle’s bolt action slamming closed when you shut the door.
With a truck like this it’s the little things that matter, because let’s face it: if you just wanted a rugged workhorse you’d go get a decade old Toyota Land Cruiser for a fraction of the Benz’s asking price. But a Geländewagen is also the sum of not just its parts, but its history and its dogged persistence of design. Those little things include a door-closing sound that’s like a rifle’s bolt action being slammed shut (click. Ready to go), vast swaths of perforated and ruched leather and the latest technologies that prevent any possible calamity. Add to this diesel efficiency and scrubbed emissions from Bluetec technology and the intoxicating but reassuring soundtrack of a V6 turbo diesel engine (211 hp and 398 lb-ft of torque), and the sum is a decidedly no-joke proposition. For driving on meandering country roads or dropping off the grid to a trail that requires all three differentials locked (yes, you can lock all three), the G-Wagon feels like you could hitch the entire Isle of Skye and tow it home.
For those of us living in the U.S. there’s a bit of bad news: this specific car isn’t available here, so unless you’ve got plans for a trip to the UK, where we drove it, the best you can do is look get one of the G-Class wagons available in the U.S.