Somewhere in AMG’s headquarters deep in Affalterbach, there’s a team of engineers responsible for the recently updated AMG G63. A team of engineers who looked at the old model, the supercharged V8 G55, and thought ‘that needs more power’.
Let’s just put this into context for a moment. The G-Wagon is Mercedes-Benz’s entry to the military off-roader market and was released way back in 1979. It’s still used by armies all over the world, by the likes of NATO and the UN, and it even saw duty for many years as the official Popemobile. It was transformed into a civilian off-roader at the request of a group of cashed up Arab sheiks and since the early eighties has gained a reputation as the most unbreakable, hard core off-roader there is.
The world cracked a wry grin when AMG announced their intention to cram a 370kw supercharged V8 into it, at which point the new G55 simultaneously became the most awesome and pointless vehicle on the planet. Any Given Reason came to this conclusion when tarmac rallying the G55 a few years back, which is why the notion of an even faster G-Wagon seems even more hilarious right now.
The old supercharged V8 is gone, replaced by the same Biturbo 5461cc V8 you’ll find in most of the current AMG lineup. That means 400kw of power, 760nm of torque, a 0-100 time of 5.4 seconds and a top speed of 230km/h. Remember, these are the specs of a vehicle that weighs over two and a half tonnes; one whose commando off road capabilities have not been diminished in the slightest.
The owner recently took this G63 for a play in an off-road proving ground in Victoria and tackled the 60% concrete incline. Where Pajero’s and Land Cruiser’s were slowly chugging up with their diff’s locked, the G63 smoked all four tyres for the entire climb. If that isn’t cool, then what is?
Despite the extra speed, the G63 is actually a far more sensible car than the G55 was. The old model was a touch unrefined – the ride was a little harsh and sometimes crashy, the gearbox would hunt for gears and wasn’t the smoothest and the ergonomics were verging on ridiculous. But you put up with all of this because of that engine, because of the speed. You’d hear the supercharger whine and suddenly it didn’t matter if you couldn’t see the radio or if you bumped the diff locks while trying to turn the a/c on. It was badass and that was all that mattered.
The G63 retains all of the childish elements of the G55 while fixing its flaws. The factory sidepipes are still there, and with this particular car’s mods still sounds like an unsilenced hot rod and it even pops and barks on overrun. The supercharger noise is gone but it is replaced by hissing turbo whine, even audible as the new seven-speed transmission blips the throttle on downshift. It combines with the baritone V8 rumble to create a noise that just shouldn’t be emanating from such a big four wheeler.
The completely redesigned interior now functions properly as a modern car should. You can actually see the sat-nav, reach the a/c controls, the seats are supportive and the voice activation system functions impressively. The ride, whilst of course not reaching S Class levels of refinement, is smooth and compliant. When in auto mode the transmission quietly does its job in the background, and the radar cruise control is eerily effective. In a word, the G63 is what you would expect of a premium luxury vehicle and it requires fewer excuses to justify than the G55 did.
That’s not to say it makes perfect sense, because it doesn’t. Fuel consumption is alarming (even when using the eco start stop mode), and for such a fast car in a straight line it shies away from spirited cornering like any serious off-roader would. And then there’s the price – the G63 starts at $247,000 for the base model drive away although this example with its Designo matte paint, Designo two tone carbon interior, integrated iPad’s and other performance mods runs north of 300.
There’s no point trying to rationalize this car because the G63 still isn’t a rational car. It falls into the same category as any enthusiast car in that it is an emotional purchase. You buy a G63 just because you think it’s cool and you want one, end of story. We should all just be thankful that in a world of nanny-state regulations and left wing caution, there are still companies out there building cars like this. Imagine if Nissan had the guts to build a 240Z factory fitted with a VR38DETT?
However, the craziest part of this story is that the G63 isn’t actually the wildest G-Wagon you can buy from AMG. In overseas markets you can order a G65, which is the same vehicle but fitted with a 450kw biturbo V12. Or if you need to get yourself seriously lost in the desert, you can specify either car in six-wheel drive configuration.
Words and photos by Andrew Coles.