It always a special occasion to experience a professional at work. During the recent Mercedes-Benz G-Class launch in Austria, we got a passenger ride with training and development drivers. The driver in the video is Erwin Wonisch, and he has been involved with the G-Class since the mid-1970s – before the G-Class even went into production. He knows this mountain, its tracks, and the G-Class like the back of his hand.
To sum up, I have never experienced anything like it. At places the G-Class’s nose was two metres in the air before it bounced – at speed – back on the rocks below. Erwin didn’t hold back, and several minutes later when we all calmed down and returned to the tarmac, it quickly dawned on my why military institutions use these vehicles for different purposes and in challenging conditions.
At times I honestly thought parts of the suspension, or Goodyear Wrangler tyres, would simply be torn off but the rigid axles with coil springs and shock absorbers coped extremely well even at the speed we descended over the rough terrain – with four people on board. Not once did the suspension bottomed out. I can’t think of another vehicle on the market that would have been able to handle this track at this speed.
All this off-road ability and durability does come at a hefty price, but the G-Class is a truly diverse – and out of the ordinary – SUV.
*As usual, the video doesn’t tell the whole story, but it will give some idea of the impact the course has on the car.