What is it?
After 33 years, most cars have either been consigned to history or the crusher. Not so the Mercedes G-class. Launched in 1979 and originally conceived for use by United Nations forces, the G-class has just undergone its most extensive facelift to date. And the changes include the arrival of a new G63 AMG model, complete with a twin-turbo 5.5-litre V8 petrol engine and seven-speed automatic gearbox.
Successor to the flamboyant G 55 AMG, this odd mix of contemporary driveline engineering and old-world, military-grade ruggedness packs supercar levels of reserves and a soundtrack to match. According to Mercedes, the G 63 AMG will hit 62mph in just 5.4sec and run to a governed maximum of 130mph.
What’s it like?
Its rabid straight-line acceleration is made all the more memorable by an elevated driving position that places you well above most other road users. With 20-inch wheels shod with generous 275/50 tyres, traction is plentiful, even in the worst weather conditions.
Unfortunately, the rest of the driving experience is decidedly old school. At typical motorway speeds there is a high degree of wind noise. With three differentials and separate low-range gearing, you also get a fair bit of shunt through the complex driveline. And the steering, an ancient recirculating ball system, is woefully indirect and weighted inconsistently.
Without the roll-reducing hydraulic stabiliser bars used on other Mercedes off-roaders, the G 63 AMG is prone to excessive levels of lean, too. Even at moderate speeds you end up approaching bends with a healthy dose of caution.
All of which could perhaps be forgiven if the most sporting of all G-class models rode with some degree of aplomb. But it doesn’t. Its stiffened suspension results in what can best be described as a firm ride. But with an old-fashioned Panhard rod suspension and ladder-frame chassis structure, it’s little wonder.
Despite boasting all the latest in fuel-saving technology – including automatic stop-start – it’s also a thirsty beast, returning just 20.5mpg on the combined cycle.
Should I buy one?
But all of these deficiencies are unlikely to dissuade buyers. With a price set to be close to £120,000, the G 63 AMG will be bought primarily on image grounds.
By modern standards, the G 63 AMG is a dinosaur. But despite all of its dynamic shortcomings, it is a real event to drive. Like the old G 55 AMG, it is a unique car for a special type of customer – those with plenty of disposable income, a desire for exclusivity and perhaps a need to stand out from the crowd. And for those seeking even more, there’s the even more outrageous G 65 AMG, although that won’t be sold in the UK.
Mercedes-Benz G 63 AMG
Price: £120,000 (est); 0-62mph: 5.4sec; Top speed: 130mph (governed); Economy: 20.5mpg (combined); CO2: 322g/km; Kerb weight: 2475kg; Engine: V8, 5461cc, twin-turbo, petrol; Power: 536bhp at 5500rpm; Torque: 560lb ft at 2000rpm; Gearbox: 7-spd automatic
What is it?