Mercedes-AMG G63

AMG G63 is a 4x4 supercar enigma

This three million rand Mercedes-AMG G63 Edition One Geländewagen has a seamless history that stretches back to the early 1970s when Benz and Steyr-Puch developed an unstoppable vehicle apparently originally imagined by the Shah of Iran. The G Wagon was facelifted in 1990 and renamed G-Class in ’95 with a V8 G500 joining the range in 1998 before the mad G 55 AMG arrived in 2000. Since then G has seen regular refinement leading up to the launch of this mad thing.

Now the robust, macho and distinctive 63 is a significant re-imagination of the timeless G-wagen design that retains its classic round headlamps but adds state of the art Multibeam High Performance LED tech augmented by an AMG-specific grille and flared wheel arches. 

G also keeps those Beetle-like indicators, exposed hinges and old school door knobs that need real muscle to tug open. Add quad exhausts — two emerging each side below the left and right rear doors, while this Edition 1 model stands even further apart by red-trimmed matt black 22-inch forged cross-spoke wheels and red trim.

Board the big Merc and it's all AMG space age inside. G 63’s dimensional concept cockpit is dominated by a 12.3 inch widescreen Comand infotainment system that literally spreads right across the dash. Offering Classic, Sporty and Progressive display modes, Comand is run either by a central controller, the D-shaped paddle-shifting dual-integrated-touch-control steering wheel or Mercedes Me Connect voice command.

The right steering spoke controller runs the driver’s instrument cluster, while the left button controls the Apple CarPlay, Android Auto, USB and Bluetooth connective Comand infotainment system with 3D topographical map navigation. It’s all quite opulent in G’s now far more spacious cabin with its red contrasted diamond cross-stitched climate-controlled massage heated front and rear Active Multicontour Nappa leather seats with a memory function for the driver, luxury head restraints and a 40-60 split at the rear. Sounds like a mouthful? well it is!

Whatever the propaganda promises, G 63 is not particularly adept on twisty paved road surfaces or on a mountain col — it seems to be searching for mud as soon as you find a curve in the road. Mud is however of course what it was designed to revel in, in the first place and our specimen here comes with (apparent) unstoppable all-terrain ability. 

I say apparent because the AMG G 63 is a bit like Hussain Bolt ready and set to sprint with stiletto high heels on. Here we have what is purported to be the ultimate 4x4 on the planet wearing shoes that are far better suited to the Nurburgring than the Namib.

We've indeed experienced appropriately shod Geländewagens in that same Namib Desert, Botswana mud and hanging off a Maluti cliff enough to fully appreciate what this thing can do, but were I faced with taking those lovely AMG alloys into the bush, I don’t think I'd go there. Hold that thought...

Still, G63 AMG packs completely redesigned coil spring suspension with independent double wishbones directly mounted to the ladder frame chassis up front and a five-link rigid rear axle with additional transverse stabilisers front and rear. 3-mode AMG adaptive adjustable damping control seamlessly adapts each corner to current driving needs and the big, bad Benz also has a three mode electromechanical speed-sensitive steering and 241mm ground clearance. 

The Benz can select down to its lower ratio transfer case at up to 40km/h on the fly and back up at 70km’h and if you are ever inclined to go mud plugging, an intelligent new multi-plate clutch does the job of a locking differential to allow you a broader scope before you have to manually engage the differential locks.

But that’s not all — G63 also packs five Slippery, Comfort, Sport, Sport+ and Individual, Dynamic Select modes and a new body material mix comprising various grades of steel for ultimate torsional rigidity for the 101mm longer, 121mm broader and height and 40mm taller earth conqueror.

Mercedes promises hallmark AMG Driving Performance on and off the road and on it we were easily convinced, in spite of that muddy lust. G 63’s 430kW 850Nm 4-litre biturbo-in-the-vee V8 turns a quick-shifting 9-speed automatic to rocket this monster from zero to 100km/h in a quite stupendous 4.68 seconds.

From there it blasts the quarter mile in under 13 seconds and rushes on to a spoilsport 220km/h top end to the staccato rapport of classic AMG V8 thunder in glorious real life stereo. 

This hand-built V8 is quite the piece of work, truth be told, packing optimum intercooled twin scroll turbocharger and piezo injector petrol injection, as well as ECO start/stop, a gliding mode and  cylinder deactivation in the apparent search of good fuel economy, not that we're not too sure about that bit.

AMG claims 13.1l/100km and 299 g/km CO2, but to be honest, how they achieved that without the use of a very deep mineshaft will always remain a mystery to us. We failed to achieve much better than 20 to a hundred in average driving. You don’t want to know what it sucked when pushed. 

At the end of the day, the biggest irony here is that this ultimate 4x4 will likely never deliver its full potential on the road or track, or in the wild blue yonder. But the pure bravado of a car that is unable to actually drive in the bush where it’s supposed to thrive because its wheel and tyre is better suited to a racetrack is quite impeccable. 

Which kinda justifies that tyre selection, does it not…? - Michele Lupini

Images: Giordano Lupini

Engine: 430kW 850Nm 4-litre biturbo petrol V8 
Drive: 9-speed automatic 4x4              
0-60km/h:            2.49 sec
0-100km/h:         4.68 sec 
0-160km/h:         10.33 sec                           
400m:                  12.9. sec @ 178km/h       
80-120km/h:       2.70 sec  
120-160km/h:     4.13 sec                          
VMax:                  220km/h  
Fuel:                    13.1 l/100km                            
CO2:                    299 g/km   
Warranty/Service: 2y Unl/6y 100Kkm  
LIST PRICE:          3.11M
RATED:                9