Mercedes-AMG G 63 review: Gee whizz
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Mercedes-AMG G 63
- Definitely an icon
- Makes everybody smile
- So very fast
- So contrived
- So tall (check your garage roof height)
- So expensive
The Mercedes-AMG G 63 is a gloriously irrational example of what a car should be, rather than what it could be.
The G-Wagen doesn’t need an upright windscreen, seams along the pillars, indicators on top of the front guards or external door hinges. In fact, all of those things belong in the 1970s and are a lot harder to engineer into a modern vehicle than off-the-shelf components that are, well, modern.
It also doesn’t have to rock on its axles when you rev the biturbo-V8 from idle, or squirm left-to-right under hard acceleration. None of Mercedes-AMG’s other SUVs do that. It’s all very contrived.
But without the above, there would be no reason for the G-Wagen to exist. The appeal is that every new model (this one was launched in 2018) looks and feels like it came from 1979. Future G-Wagens will too. Even the electric ones; yes, that’s happening as well.
And you can’t help but love it, even though it makes no sense.
It’s an idiosyncrasy of the premium SUV market that the models boasting maximum off-road ability and authenticity often also become high-priced urban icons. That’s the case with Land Rover and Jeep and that’s also what happened with the G-Wagen over the years.
So yes, the G 63 still has a ladder-frame chassis, low range transfer with a trio of 100 per cent locking differentials and a live rear axle. Will you be going very far into the rough with those expensively painted wheelarch flares painted and 21-inch “high sheen” wheels? Of course not. But you could, that’s the point. You so could.
Auckland | Auckland City
$542.49 p/w $2,169.97 p/m
It’s scary fast: 0-100km/h in 4.5 seconds, no problem. The sheer force of kiloWatts required to push all those flat surfaces through the air must be staggering.
The G 63 feels like a handful when you’re pressing on, “feels” being the operative word. In reality there’s an arsenal of electronic aids keeping the chassis in check. So even if you think you’re living on the edge, you’re actually sitting on a nice cushion and just enjoying the view.
The big box Mercedes-AMG calls the interior is lavishly, outrageously equipped. The upright glass and annoying A-pillars (they’re right in your line of vision in corners) suggest a retro atmosphere, but the G 63 is loaded with modern tech. It gets the “widescreen” virtual dashboard layout (not quite in the “Hey Mercedes” voice assistant generation though) and the touchy feely stuff that reminds you this is a proper $300k Mercedes luxury vehicle.
Despite the fact that the G 63 is the first choice of Hollywood A-listers, I reckon there’s a much cooler G-Wagen to be had.
Actually scratch that: because the G 63 is the first choice of Hollywood A-listers, I reckon there’s a much cooler G-Wagen to be had.
The $217,100 G 400d takes the bling down several notches, and as such ramps up the old-school cool significantly. It’s powered by Mercedes-Benz’s magnificent new straight-six turbo-diesel engine and serves up maximum off-road cred.
It’s much more what the G-Wagen should be to an enthusiast. While remaining a bit silly.
MERCEDES-AMG G 63
ENGINE: 4.0-litre biturbo petrol V8
GEARBOX: 9-speed automatic, AWD
0-100KM/H: 4.5 seconds
ECONOMY: 13.1l/100km, CO2 299g/km