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Now reading: Traxxas TRX-4 Mercedes G Wagon G500 Review
This latest release based on Traxxas' fantastic TRX-4 chassis features a highly-detailed Mercedes G 500 4X4² body. We take a closer look at the model and test whether it still holds the kings of crawler crown!
Traxxas' premium printed box contains the chassis (pre-assembled and ready to run), body and transmitter. Alongside the book pack, the contents include spare stickers, wheel wrenches and allen tools for servicing the truck.
The body comes cellophane wrapped for protection and is pre-finished to a very high standard. Traxxas supplied large black body pins that blend in nicely, its the little touches that matter!
As ever with these high-end models you will need to supply your own battery and charger, in this case a Traxxas-iD terminated 4-7cell NiMH or 2-3 cell LiPo. We tested it with this 5000mAh 3S Lipo.
The majority of people buying this model will be drawn in by the styling and image of the pumped up special-edition '4x4 squared' G Wagon.
Fully-licensed by Mercedes-Benz parent company Daimler the truck features the three pointed star no fewer than seven times across the body and wheels. It is probably the 'most bling' model we have seen come out of the Traxxas factory.
The body features strengthening bars down the inside of the shell, that odd roof spoiler and faux front bumper grilles. The body actually slips into the top of the rock-rails a little tighter than the other TRX-4 ones. Our favourite feature is the highly detailed light buckets that clearly have been designed to be fitted with an LED kit (watch this space).
Oddly it looks 'at home' on the affluent streets of Hove, seemingly the natural home of luxury SUV's outside of Knightsbridge. Its available in Metallic Black as pictured and a bright metallic blue, thankfully no sight of the offensively day-glow-yellow from the toy fair release.
Its appearance has polarised the office somewhat, with some labeling it the epitome of the 'Chelsea tractor', whilst others of a more 'football' penchant absolutely love the styling. Either way we can all agree it looks quite confused and cross-eyed from the front.
The TRX-4 chassis is one of Traxxas' finest, the tech in this truck really beggars belief. Featuring portal axles (giving greater ground clearance, a rigid steel frame, remotely operated diff locks, high/low-speed remotely operated gearbox, GTS aluminium shocks and much more. Waterproof 3S compatible electronics feature throughout, but naturally don't leave the 21-turn motor submerged.
Considering the similarities with the previous TRX-4 release, we won't go into fine detail, you can learn more in our previous review.
The 4-channel Traxxas TQi radio system included is one of our favorites. Its ergonomics are great with sweeping lines to wrap your hand around the grip. That big red switch actuates the gearbox from high to low, so useful on longer runs. Trims are available via dial and the menu buttons, although those options can be fiddly. The two position switch above physically adjusts the neutral position giving you 70:30 forward/reverse compared to the standard 50:50, perfect for finely controlling a crawler. On-top the three position manages the diff lock from all open, through front-lock to all locked.
Its one of the few transmitters that includes a hook on-top, which comes in handy more times than you can imagine. They have retained the silly black-chromed steering wheel but the foam grip was always excellent anyway so we can't complain. Connection is always rock solid. It supports their optional bluetooth module that will allow you to connect your smartphone to it for a full App readout of speed, battery life and much more. Note that the transmitter requires 4xAA batteries to run (not included).
If you have read our extensive experiences with the excellent Land Rover Defender TRX-4 you will know how highly we rate it. Whilst the base chassis design is the same, the Mercedes runs a different configuration with a few extras.
The G500 chassis is set to the shorter wheelbase, but runs the rear body post further back. It has different bumpers front and rear with a square tow hitch on the back. There is now a platform between the front wheels. The arch liners (whilst retaining their pool light mounting panels) are now mounted to the chassis (the shock caps actually bolt through them) instead of the body which will make fitting it easier.
There are further cosmetic differences like the chrome-look exhaust silencers and tips under the rock runners and chrome lipped steps above them. We are a bit concerned that these will get chewed up with any serious crawling, but they are removable.
Further to this is the drilled skid plate under the front bumper. Sadly even this doesn't appear to be made of metal. It still retains the heavy duty steel links, aluminium scale shocks and steel rails that make the original so tough.
Whilst they match the style of the full-scale truck the new wheels and tyres 'feel' narrower with less sidewall with smaller tread blocks.
They do have a nice soft rubber compound but the new design could well hamper the truck on the trails.
TLDR: Its almost as good as the defender, it is pretty damn good. Sharing the same chassis allows for all the fantastic articulation you'll be familiar with had you seen our previous reviews.
Configured to run at a shorter wheelbase, the break-over angle is theoretically marginally higher on the G500. This with the short overhangs appears to give it a greater approach/departure angle on paper. It's been a while since we have driven a 'full-fat' TRX-4 and we forgot just how useful the remote locking diffs are for climbing complex objects.
However where it falls down is with the supplied wheel and tyre combo. As mentioned these tyres are quite different to the ones on the Defender. Their stiff sidewalls or inserts mean less compression and less contact area, resulting what feels like a lot less purchase on the terrain.
They work fine on rougher surfaces such as this tree bark , the weight of the vehicle letting the rubber compound cling on and make progress along the trunk.
However on smoother sand-blasted driftwood at the beach (and indeed the big sea defence rocks we like to crawl on at the coast) the G Wagon sadly ended up slip sliding back down behind its older brother.
That aside, the lack of roof rack and spare tyre means it is not as top heavy as its sibling. We found it could hold on at more aggressive angles across the track width before nature would take its course and topple the truck onto its side.
Here in the UK, the actual road-going G500 4x4 squared sells for over £200,000 so seeing one off-road is a rarity. We do wonder if buyers of the scale model will end up using it in a similar fashion, negating the need for any crawling capability at all?
We feel that Traxxas have the high-end crawler market tied up at the moment. If you don't like the G Wagon styling you can get the highly-popular Defender-bodied model in the colour of your choice, or perhaps the Chevy -blazer-bodied model and retain the incredible performance of the fully loaded TRX-4 chassis. Traxxas also offer a cut-down version of the TRX-4 without the switchable dual-speed gearbox and remotely locking diffs called the TRX-4 Sport. Its available with a pickup style body in red or blue.
If these stretch your budget too far, consider buying Axial's SCX10 II which (available in a host of body styles) has comparable performance if not the levels of advanced design and technology the Traxxas cars are blessed with.
As mentioned, alongside the AA batteries for the transmitter, you will need a Traxxas battery and charger to run it. For our testing we used this Traxxas EZ Peak Plus Charger + 3S 5000mAh LiPo pack which will squeeze into the stock battery tray and give you great run and recharge times at a reasonable cost.
If you want to know anything about the Mercedes G Wagon, or would like specific photos of parts of the new truck, leave us a comment below.