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Car and Driver: Back to Basics: Mercedes-Benz G-wagen “Professional” Returns

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The Mercedes-Benz G-wagen has come a long way from the utilitarian vehicle it was at its inception 37 years ago, but in some markets that’s less true, as the brand has continued to offer barely changed version of the original, W461, model. They were dubbed “Professional,” and they were distinguished from the contemporary, W463 series by a more angular grille, a dashboard that is much closer to the original, less-powerful engines, and far fewer electronics controlling the powertrain and the four-wheel-drive system. Never offered in the U.S. market, the Professional was pulled from Europe when its engine failed to meet Euro 6 emissions standards.

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Now the Professional is back, but it’s not quite the same. Badged the G350d Professional, it’s now based on the G350d, the European-market entry-level version of the W463 line. The Professional is powered by a 242-hp V-6 turbo-diesel, and unlike the regular G350d, which can reach 120 mph, it is governed at 100 mph. Fitted with 265/70 all-terrain tires on 16-inch wheels, its chassis is raised by 0.4 inch, and Daimler claims it will outperform the other G-wagen models off the road.

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Instead of the Comand screen that features prominently on other G-wagens, the G350d Professional features a placeholder panel that is crudely attached with Allen screws, undoubtedly in an attempt to keep some of the predecessor’s rugged charm. The rest of the dashboard doesn’t look much different from any other modern G-wagen. Outside, we find the same rounded grille and AMG-inspired front bumper of the other G-wagens, but the turn signals are amber, a retro touch.

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We doubt the G350d Professional will be offered in the U.S.; in Europe, it’s about $12,000 cheaper than a regular G350d, which makes it something of a bargain. You can spend some of the difference on the must-have off-road package, which includes protective bars for the headlights and turn signals, a roof rack with a ladder, and a wooden floor for the cargo compartment.

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