It’s not everyday that we get to see a Deputy Chief Minister of a large state driving a high-end luxury car. So, it came as quite a surprise when Deputy Chief Minister of Maharashtra Devendra Fadnavis got behind the wheel of a Mercedes Benz G350d luxury SUV. On the front passenger seat was none other than Eknath Shinde, the current Chief Minister of Maharashtra. With their entire security detail in tow, the duo drove across a finished stretch of the Balasaheb Thackeray expressway that’s being built between Mumbai and Nagpur.
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Why were Devendra Fadnavis and Eknath Shinde driving across an unopened stretch of the Mumbai-Nagpur Balasaheb Thackeray expressway?
The chief minister and his deputy were said to be inspecting the quality of the expressway, which when finished will be 701 kilometers long, connecting Mumbai and Nagpur by passing through 10 districts and 26 talukas of Maharashtra. The first phase of the Hindu Hrudaysamrat Balasaheb Thackeray Maharashtra Samruddhi Mahamarg, which is the official name of the Mumbai-Nagpur expressway – is ready, and will be inaugurated by Prime Minister Narendra Modi on the 11th of December. In the run up to this inauguration, the Chief Minister and Deputy Chief Minister of Maharashtra were conducting a recce of the expressway.
The Mercedes Benz G350d that Mr. Fadnavis was driving doesn’t belong to him. Rather, it belongs to a real estate developer called Kukreja Infrastructure of Nagpur. What remains unclear though is if Kukreja Infrastructure has anything to do with the construction of the Mumbai-Nagpur expressway. Priced at Rs. 2.07 crore, on-road Mumbai, the G350d is the workhorse in the Mercedes Benz G-Wagen range. It’s powered by a 3 liter, six cylinder turbocharged diesel engine that puts out 282 Bhp of peak power and 600 Nm of peak torque. The engine is paired to an 9 speed torque converter automatic gearbox. A four wheel drive transfer case comes standard with the G350d, which is known for combining luxurious interiors with a very sturdy build quality and excellent off road performance. The 2.5 ton SUV is no slouch on the road though, with a 0-100 Kph sprint timing of 7.4 seconds while top speed is a heady 199 Kph.
Many Indian celebrities own the Mercedes Benz G350d. Three prominent Bollywood stars who own this SUV include Bollywood actors Suniel Shetty, Jahnvi Kapoor and Sara Ali Khan. Mercedes Benz also sells a more powerful, quicker variant of the G-Wagen in India.
Called the G63 AMG, the top-of-the-line trim is petrol powered. Under the hood of the G63 AMG is a 4 liter V8 twin turbo petrol engine that makes 577 Bhp of peak power and 850 Nm of peak torque.
Like the G350d, the G63 AMG also gets a 9 speed torque converter automatic gearbox as standard but the higher powered version is a lot quicker. The 2.5 ton SUV hurtles to 100 Kph from standstill in just 4.5 seconds while top speed – largely curtailed by the brick-like aerodynamics – is an electronically limited 220 Kph. The G63 AMG gets a four wheel drive layout as well, and is the go-to car for dune bashing in Gulf countries.