Original test: Mercedes 300 GE

Hunting in the new Mercedes G with a more powerful engine, permanent four-wheel drive, anti-lock braking system and lots of new luxury is really fun. auto motor und sport drove the Mercedes 300 GE in 1990. Clauspeter Becker wrote the original driving report.

Down-to-earth, as befits an off-road vehicle of deep seriousness, the Mercedes G plowed through the eighties without any clear signs of change. From 1979 to today it basically remained the same car with its two driven axles. ,

To mark the start of the 1990s, Mercedes is launching a two-part G model series that has been renovated in its upper regions. Simply equipped, the previous version is still available as a so-called military and municipal vehicle. The model range of this basis, which now tends more towards working equipment, is limited to the types 230 GE and 250 GD. In addition, there is now also a thoroughly refined civilian version of the robust off-road vehicle, which illustrates ten years of progress in the following features:

  • new six-cylinder engines,
  • permanent four-wheel drive,
  • electrically operated differential locks,
  • anti-lock braking system,
  • more direct steering,
  • refined interior design.
  • It starts at 65,835 marks

    The good and the new have had an impact on the prices. The entry threshold is now 65,835 marks for a 230 GE of the new generation. While the price for the previous top model, the Mercedes 280 GE with a long wheelbase without further special equipment, hovered at 74,328 marks, it is now necessary to invest at least 81,339 marks for a 300 GE. ,

    The new numbers give an idea of ​​what has changed in the engines. In the 300 GE, the new six-cylinder M 103 replaces the ancient M 110, which was last only used in off-road vehicles. The three-liter engine, which was more modern by more than three decades, did not develop quite as much power in the G as in the passenger car. The exhaust system – with a catalytic converter, of course – reduces the output to 170 hp (125 kW), but this is definitely a very noticeable improvement compared to the 150 hp (110 kW) previously achieved by the 280 GE. The increase in driving culture is far more convincing than the gain in driving dynamics. While even a G from the best was still a rough guy up to now, the new top model is a man like velvet and silk, whose thirst has even decreased a little.

    Differentials and lots of power

    An eight-cylinder as the last performance trump card is still not part of the off-road game at Mercedes. After a number of attempts, the technicians wrap themselves entirely in the cloak of responsibility for keeping the effort and effect within reasonable limits. An eight-cylinder, so it is said in the test reports, is far more conducive to consumption than effective driving performance.With the large diesel, the connection to the future is under the same number as before: 300 GD – but in accordance with the current range of engines no longer with five but with six cylinders. So here, too, progress goes hand in hand with a significant gain in performance and running culture. And it is only too obvious that the limits of growth remain unreached here. The 147 hp (108 kW) turbo diesel, which is the standard for off-road vehicles today, is part of the Mercedes engine range, but is not yet available for the G model, at least not for the time being. ,

    Two arguments pushed the development to the consequence of permanent all-wheel drive: The contemporary demand for a system suitable for ABS supported the desire for a power distribution to all four wheels that would serve driving safety. The technical realization of the permanent all-wheel drive shows the beautiful clarity of simple concepts: a conventional differential with switchable lock for power distribution between the axles in the central transfer case, the differentials of the two axles follow the same principle as before with the same form-fitting locks. With its robust nature, this traditional solution prevailed over younger concepts. Neither multi-disc locks nor the automatic locking differential ASD, which is highly valued by Mercedes, can cope with the enormous torque that becomes effective when off-road gear is engaged.

    Direct steering

    The actuation of the locks is new and follows the trend towards convenience. Instead of tangible mechanical levers, there is now the electro-pneumatic operating elegance of delicate tip switches in the middle of the dashboard. And of course there is some electronic intelligence behind them in the form of a sequential circuit that allows the locks to be engaged in the correct order: 1st central differential 2nd rear axle differential 3rd front axle differential. The even distribution of power to all four wheels prevents the powerfully motorized 300 GE in particular from oversteering on wet or icy roads. Furthermore, with permanent but unlocked four-wheel drive, there is no tension in the drive train in the curve. This keeps the car more manoeuvrable, the winter properties are more secure, and the mechanics are less stressed in light to medium terrain. But when it goes really deep through dirt and bacon and all three locks are in use, then the new permanent drive is just as assertive as the switchable old one. ,

    A further gain in driving comfort and handiness is due to the now more directly geared steering, which, despite more powerful servo assistance, conveys more precision in response and better contact with the road. The anti-lock braking system oversees two disc brakes at the front and – which is rare – two drum brakes at the rear.The reason for this mixture, which could be perfectly matched to the ABS with experience from truck construction, is the requirement for an extremely energetic handbrake. It must be able to hold a fully loaded off-road vehicle with the maximum towing capacity - total weight six tons - on an incline. ,

    Externally almost unchanged, the second generation G clearly shows the way to a more cultivated future on the inside. Harmoniously coordinated with the elegantly restrained acoustics of the young six-cylinder, the style of the interior with the dashboard framed in fine wood of the Mercedes middle class tends towards the level of noble limousines. Here, people are enthroned, far more than they sit, on Recaro armchairs of the finest practicality and feel like a Jägermeister in person. ,

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