THE G300cdi Professional is an easy car to live with in town, in the bush or in the desert, but how does it fare on a long touring drive?
A trip to Silverton to witness the final stages of the Outback Challenge would provide the answers. Plus, taking the G-Pro would ensure we had the vehicle to reach the Challenge’s remote stages. Melbourne to Broken Hill direct is a tedious 900km haul up the highway.
There are more interesting dirt-road routes to take if you have time on your side, but when you need to get up there to see the stages that night, the highway it has to be. If you find long highway drives a chore, then the G-Pro really won’t be your friend. The lack of any floor coverings or sound deadening in the Professional versions of the G-Wagen means that interior noise levels are quite high.
Both engine and road noise infiltrate the cabin more than they would in any other modern 4x4, and holding a conversation at highways speeds means you need to speak loudly. You could turn up the volume of the audio system, but the set-up is pretty basic in the Pro.
With just a pair of tinny speakers and no USB or MP3 provisions, it’s far from what you’d expect in a new car. I had to dig out some CDs to play on the trip, something I haven’t done in a decade! And, if the ambient temperature is hot, you’ll find even the A/C cooling fan is loud as well.
Performance from the 400Nm 3.0-litre V6 and five-speed auto combination isn’t great either, particularly when you’re trying to push such a brick through the air at 110km/h. It feels like you’re always pressing the pedal to the floor just to keep up the speed, but you’ll want to back-off the go-pedal to quieten things down a tad. It’s these things that led us to choose the G350d over the G300 Pro in the December 2017 issue.
This performance, along with the gearing of the five-speed auto, led to fairly heavy fuel consumption figures, with the G averaging 16.0L/100km for the trip. Yes, it’s an off-road brick, it wears LT construction, all-terrain tyres, and it has a roof rack, but this was a relatively unladen trip. Get off the beaten track, though, and the G-Pro comes in to its element.
The Outback Challenge is held on remote private properties around Broken Hill and the Corner Country, and the station tracks are rugged, stony and dusty, but they posed no obstacle for the G. In these conditions it pays to engage the centre diff lock, as this disengages the electronic traction control which becomes a hindrance more than a help when tyres start to slip. Washouts were no problem, and getting off the tracks for photography often meant engaging the rear diff lock for added security.
The only complaint about driving the G-Pro on rough tracks is the hard lid on the centre console.It houses the ECU and electronics and it can’t be opened. The lid is adjacent to your left elbow and, when bouncing around and working the steering wheel, it’s unforgiving to one’s elbow. Despite its shortfalls I still love driving the G300 Pro – I love its authentic off-road design and its off-road ability. There’s room for improvement, but the G is a true off-roader in an era of lighter-duty pretenders.
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