A few mildly annoying “features” of the W463A G550.

Lest you think it’s all rainbows and lollipops over here in Castle Contravex, and particularly in the stables of said complex, allow me to share some less-than-entirely-flattering “consumer reports” after 4`000 km and three months of driving the completely redesigned (and completely sensible?) G-Wagen. Here are a few of the more blatant niggles, er, “features” that stand out thus far :

  • Mega-aggressive lane keep assisti
  • Remote start doesn’t turn on HVAC or seat heatersii
  • Auto stop/start on by defaultiii
  • No cooled seats as standardiv
  • Thunking doors wake up kidsv
  • Windshield cracks easily, veeery easily.vi
  • Stock exhaust a bit too quietvii
  • Running boards too narrowviii
  • Sun visors don’t extendix
  • Weak-ass fansx
  • Loud-ass fansxi
  • Slightly too showy in situations requiring more discretion and modestyxii

All of this being said, it’s still a splendid thing to own and drive. It looks like nothing else, handles far better than its dimensions would suggest,xiii feels expensive and well-engineered throughout, handles road trips with aplomb, kills daddy duty (and of course date nights), has excellent visibility all-around, and has so far been operationally faultless despite this being the first model year of an all-new vehicle, one that experienced considerable production delays at that.

So despite some of its more annoying “features,” I still wouldn’t trade the big-hinged wonder for anything else out there. It’s an icon livin’, even if it’s not perfect.
___ ___ ___

  1. Thankfully Active Lane Keep Assist can be turned off but it has to be done every time the vehicle is restarted. Defaults matter! And I can’t say I’m a fan of this particular default. It’s so aggressive on the highway that it’s as likely to cause accidents as avoid them. It’s about as obnoxious as the Tesla system that emergency brakes vehicles when it thinks the driver isn’t paying close enough attention. I mean c’mon! In concert with the Blind Spot Assist, which includes not only visual warnings by way of orange lights in your sideview mirror but also auditory BONGS, it makes the driver complacent and fearful in all the wrong places. When hopping in other vehicles, not only do I try to put them in gear with the high beams, but I’m also wary of solid yellow lines while being totally cavalier about vehicles in the lane beside me. It’s the opposite of progress saving your bacon!
  2. Come September I’ll be looking for aftermarket remote starters that turn on the seat heaters and HVAC. There’s no way to enjoy Northern Alberta winters without these very basic features. They’re sine qua non in this part of the world, especially when you’ve but a tiny and unheated (if well illuminated) garage.
  3. DYNAMIC SELECT is another one of those oh so very MERCEDES ALL CAPS DRIVER ASSISTANCE SYSTEM with a goddam mind of its own. The COMFORT map is on by default, and returns to this default every time the vehicle is restarted, which is fine for the steering and suspension settings, but is less than ideal for the engine setting, which I prefer in SPORT for the rev-matched downshifts and demure bit of theatre they provide, but COMFORT really falls flat with the auto-stop-start, which shuts the engine off at stop signs, red lights, and even the middle of parking lots, leaving the otherwise cool-looking driver 1) demeaningly greenwashed, and 2) lurching away from stops as the engine shutters back into life. It appears as though Brabus has a fix for this faulty default, but whether it’s worth a couple thousand smackers to ya is another question.
  4. Don’t get me started again on the “Comfort Seat Plus” package… That being said, on the few 30C days we’ve had so far, leaving all the windows open for 30 seconds as I climb into the truck and then cranking the A/C at full blast is surprisingly effective at cooling the whole volume down, even with the black-on-black “heat-soaker” colour scheme.
  5. When your G-Wagen is also a Daddy Wagen and your little ones fall asleep in the back, as they do, you basically have to leave the vehicle running and crawl out the open window if you want to make a quiet exit stage left. Sounder sleeping children won’t mind one way or the other, but both the rifle-bolt door locks and the vault-like action of closing the doors themselves are usually enough to wake the dead, never mind the proverbial sleeping babe.
  6. While the paint resides safely underneath its transparent armour, I already have two massive cracks in the hit-me-baby-one-more-time windshield, one acquired within the first two weeks of ownership, which spread the entire vertical length of the windshield in under two hours, and the second acquired during a 1`000 km weekend road trip to Lethbridge and back. That being said, this windshield crackability problem is shared by the Jeep Wrangler, Toyota FJ, and pretty much every truckish vehicle with near-vertical front glass. It’s hardly uncommon to see completely spidered windshields in this part of the world, where gravel is on the road for eight months of the year, but unlike in Rolex dials, it’s not quite as sought after, even if both are equally damaged goods. Compared to other trucks, however, where a replacement windshield on a Jeep or Toyota is perhaps CAN$ 300, an even smaller pane of glass for the seventh letter of the alphabet is CAN$ 2`300 (from the stealership), though it works out to “only” about half that with the insurance I purchased. What a deal eh!
    Mercedes G550 W463A Cracked Windshield
  7. I’m looking to Akrapovic, Brabus, or perhaps Capristo to sort this out in the near-ish future. The stock vacuum-like whoosh of the twin-turbos and greenified mufflers and cats reminds me of stock GT-Rs, but I was sorta forced to skip the optional sports exhaust on the G-Wagen because it was only available as a package deal with a variety of other unnecessary junk, most notably larger and uglier wheels. On balance, a set of aftermarket wheels and tires would’ve been slightly cheaper than an aftermarket sports exhaust, but aftermarket wheels are cheezy and aftermarket exhausts are amazing so that’s that. 
  8. It doesn’t help that my size 12s are shod in Yeezy seven-hundos half the time. But either way it’s not great on the knees to suspend the entirety of my mass on just my pivoting toes. My father-in-law’s new Sierra Denali understand the ergonomics of ingress and egress far better. As to aftermarket solutions, only Brabus has electrically-operated running boards but they’d get fucked by our winters in no time flat… and they’re like CAN$ 15k installed.
  9. Of all the pieces to carryover from the previous generation, Mercedes had to choose this one piece of fucking non-extending shit. It seriously drives me bananas when Toyota Corollas don’t have extending sun visors. It leaves half of the required side window area exposed!!!1 Thankfully, there are plenty of completely hideous aftermarket solutions available, surely one of which must have a Mercedes logo on it somewhere…
  10. You’ve probably heard of Big Ass Fans, a company that makes, well, y’know, but Mercedes clearly hasn’t. On a 7-level scale of HVAC power, anything under 6 is barely perceptible. The placement of the middle vents at bellybutton height certainly doesn’t help.
  11. When cranked up to 7, it’s like having a 1/2 hp industrial fan next to your head, which will either be mildly calming or deeply annoying depending on your preference. For me, which way I lean depends more on my mood than anything.
  12. Thankfully there’s a GT-R and an Elise in the Contravex stable for those situations… ;/ Maybe I need to get back my old knackered Protege5 with the rusted floor holes so big you thought you were street skeletoning, y’know, for those “special” occasions when looking like a full-fledged member of the NDP is called for. Hey, I’m not quite West Coast tech elite level yet! Even if I do love me some ABC pants.
  13. Thanks AMG! They handled the suspension tuning for all W463A models, not just the G63 and upcoming G73 donchaknow. But seriously it’s as clear as day on the road. You can feel the plantedness and body control where none should exist. Thanks to double-wishbones up front and 150 kg shed compared to the previous model and its solid front axle, at least in SPORT mode, the black beast does a passable imitation of a truck weighing, I dare say, a scant 5`000 lbs! (It actually weighs 5`665 lbs.) 

4 thoughts on “A few mildly annoying “features” of the W463A G550.

  1. Vexual says:

    I wonder if some discreet wind deflector at the leading edge of the bonnet might help to reduce glass damage.

    • Pete D. says:

      The most unobtrusive solution appears to be “clearplex” or similar kits that run $200-300 a pop. Unfortunately they only last 1-2 years due to UV degradation, so it’s not a long-term solution, but it’s still admittedly cheaper than new glass every 6 months. Possibly worth trying.

  2. Vexual says:

    I was imagining glossy black fibreglass. bespoke

    • Pete D. says:

      If we’re going bespoke, might as well make it out of carbon fibre. But I’m still in favour of keeping the lines as they are. Balance is fucking golden.

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