Mercedes-Benz G-Klasse 2018 // Mercedes-Benz G-Class 2018

After months of strategic suspense building, Mercedes has finally revealed the brand new G-Class – and there’s more changes here than initially meets the eye.

Yes, it pretty much looks the same. The LED headlamps have been updated, alongside a refreshed grille and at the back the taillights have been given the once over, too. But overall, it’s retained the iconic veneer.

It’s a similar story inside, too. The instruments have been redesigned, but keep that classic feel with round analogue dials. However, just as in most other Mercs being produced today, the displays in the drivers’ view are digitised and a 12.3-inch display above the centre console is available.

Now, onto the good stuff. The G-Class has a newly-designed suspension, worked on by both the flagship and AMG, which prioritises off-road figures. The double-wishbone front axle is directly attached to the chassis – there’s no subframe involved. And thanks to the setup at the back – a rigid axle managed by four trailing arms on each side and a panhard rod – the new G-Wagen has 10cm more ground clearance between axles than its predecessor.

This also means that it can ford deeper, and has better breakover, departure and approach angles, too. Combine these with the fact it retains the three fully lockable diffs, the obligatory low-range ‘box and advanced four-wheel-drive system, and the German powerhouse will take some stopping when the tarmac ends.

The 4.0-litre bi-turbo V8, which beats out 422bhp and 450lb/ft, has been confirmed for the G500 model, however that hasn’t yet been confirmed for the UK. Whether we get it or not, it will be managed by the five driving modes. The Comfort, Sport and Eco settings are self-explanatory, as is the customisable Individual mode.

Most interesting of the lot is the new G-Mode. No, it doesn’t turn up the stereo and blast out ‘Fiddy Cent’. It kicks in as soon as any of the diffs are locked, or the low ‘box is selected, and it tailors the G-Class to the terrain. The off-road setting adjusts the damping of the chassis and steering, along with modifying the accelerator behaviour. It also aims to avoid untimely gear changes from the 9G-tronic auto ‘box. So, Mercedes’ answer to Terrain Response then.

There aren’t any more details about which G-Class options will be available in the UK, but the entry price in Germany is set at €109,040.50, with first deliveries expected for the summer. So Brits interested in the new G can anticipate prices that start just shy of £100,000.








Jeep Compass

We drove the new Jeep Compass on its European launch in the summer. But now we’ve tried it out where it matters – here in Blighty.

Again, we had a spin in the 2.0 Multijet II diesel, but this time we also tried out the 1.4 MultiAir II turbocharged petrol equivalent. In versions of the Compass with four-wheel drive, both produce the same figure of 170bhp when mated to Jeep’s nine-speed auto box (there’s also a 140bhp version of the 2.0-litre unit with a manual box, but that’s for another day).

So our test was really about the two engines. At cruising speeds, there’s nothing to choose between them. The gearbox transitions are smooth and both are similarly quiet and comfortable.

Inside, the cabin is cleanly laid out and the touch-screen infotainment system is simple to navigate. The vehicles driven here were both in range-topping Limited spec, which means seats trimmed in full leather and, at the front, both heated and vented.

Again, the leather-wrapped steering wheel feels good and solid and the cruise control regulators are straightforward to operate. For taller drivers who require the seat further back, however, the restricted headroom that comes as a side product of the panoramic sunroof isn’t ideal.

We found the Compass’ ride to be notably informative over something as slight as cats’ eyes, and on uneven streets and B-roads this was amplified. It wasn’t uncomfortable by any means, but for something with off-road credentials in the wheelhouse we hoped for a smoother deal on everyday surfaces.

Talking of off-road credentials, we didn’t get to test these as the route set out for us to follow on the launch stuck exclusively to tarmac. There is, however, a Trailhawk version of the Compass coming during 2018 – and if you like the look of the vehicle as your next off-road giant-slayer, it will certainly be the one to wait for.

Back in the here and now, the biggest difference between the engines in driving terms is how they work with the automatic gearbox. Both may produce the same power, but the diesel has 258lbf.ft from 1750rpm while the petrol only gives you 184lbf.ft at 2500rpm – and the difference is very apparent.

The petrol engine doesn’t cover the auto box in a lot of glory. Unless it’s bullied, we found it sluggish when pulling away – bridging the gap between dangling yourself in front of traffic at roundabouts and steaming across them can be a frustrating task. A window of opportunity in between these extremes does exist – it’s just smaller than you might expect.

There are similar delays in power delivery when building up speed – and if you over-compensate, your wrists are slapped with torque steer. Downshifts on a decline caught it out a few times, too – we found it shifting down a gear too many and over-revving loudly as a result.

The diesel is a lot better behaved. The sooner the torque comes in, the happier the gearbox is. It doesn’t feel as if there are too many gear ratios in the mix, it copes better with downshifts and it’s less anxious and more refined in city centre traffic.

In every other way, the Compass is comfortable in urban environments, with light steering making it easy and untaxing to manoeuvre around town. Its contemporary styling makes it look like it belongs, too – which, trivial though it may sound, is no small concern on the school run.

Visibility is less than fantastic, however. There are blind spot indicators to help you out, but the C-pillars do dominate the view over your shoulder.12

On the whole, though, the Compass is a solid entrant for Jeep into the medium SUV market. We’d certainly choose the 2.0-litre diesel, however, whose extra torque works far better with the auto gearbox, making it much nicer to live with, and in Limited trim the cabin is a really nice, plush place to sit.

It is, however, on the expensive side. The 2.0 MultiJet II auto 4×4 lists at £34,295, and the vehicle we drove on the launch had options on it which would have taken that to £39,645. How that will look alongside the best of the Compass’ many excellent competitors in the medium SUV market is open to question – though taken on its own merits, this new Jeep certainly does have a lot to recommend it.

Ford Edge

The upscale all-new Edge utility vehicle will later this year extend the European line-up of Ford SUVs that includes the medium-sized Kuga and compact EcoSport. Refined and spacious, the Edge SUV will offer several advanced new technologies.

These include Ford Adaptive Steering, which optimises the steering response and makes Edge easier to manoeuvre by continually changing the steering ratio according to vehicle speed; Active Noise Cancellation, which directs sound waves through the audio system to enhance the overall engine sound and cabin ambiance; and Front Split View Camera, which makes restricted visibility junctions or parking spaces easier to negotiate.

The Edge Sport is a modern vehicle for people who want to look good, and have fun, behind the wheel, offering features designed to set it apart on the road and define the model as a performance-inspired utility vehicle with attitude, including:

  • High-gloss black grille and window pillars
  • Colour-coded bumpers, exterior door-cladding, door mirrors and door handles
  • Sports-inspired skid plate and rear diffuser element
  • Distinctive twin rectangular exhausts
  • 20-inch alloy wheels finished in Dark Tarnish
  • Ebony interior door trims, and sports seats with carbon-effect inserts
  • Switch gear surrounds in high-gloss piano black finish
  • Satin silver metal detailing for interior door handles, air-vent surrounds and dashboard