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Road test review: Mercedes-AMG G 63 S

  • MERCEDES-AMG G 63 S
  • Base price: $295,400
  • Powertrain and economy: 4.0-litre turbo-petrol V8, 430kW/850Nm, 9-speed automatic, AWD, combined economy 13.1L/100km, CO2 301g/km (source: RightCar).
  • Vital statistics: 4881mm long, 1984mm wide, 1968mm high, 2890mm wheelbase, luggage capacity 454 litres, 21-inch alloy wheels.
  • We like: Brutally fast, obnoxiously loud, incredibly luxurious, ridiculously capable.
  • We don’t like: Brutally pretentious, obnoxiously thirsty, incredibly arrogant, ridiculously polluting.

Are you eye-wateringly wealthy and want everyone to know it? Do you not care about the planet in the slightest and are proud of that? Then Mercedes-AMG’s biggest, baddest, loudest product is the car for you, because the G 63 S is a statement of intent on wheels that can’t be ignored. No matter how much you might want to…

So, right out of the gate you don’t like it, huh?

Mercedes-AMG G 63 S is big and bad. In almost every sense of those words.

Damien O’Carroll/Stuff

Mercedes-AMG G 63 S is big and bad. In almost every sense of those words.

Oh, no – I love it. You see, the G 63 S is a confounding thing to any rational human being. It is outrageous in every single way, yet quite offensively so in many of those ways. It’s big, brash, loud, painfully contrived and ferociously fast. It doesn’t need to be any of those things, but it is.

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It doesn’t need to look like it fell out of a time warp from the 1970s, but it does. It doesn’t need to be obnoxiously loud as it blasts towards the horizon under full throttle, but it is. It really doesn’t need to sit on an old-school style ladder chassis, but it does. It doesn’t even need to actually be as ferociously fast as it is, but screw you, it is.

All of that is done completely on purpose, is completely pointless and, frankly, completely obnoxious.

Hang on… don’t you love it though?

The 4.0-litre twin-turbo V8 is utterly volcanic and totally unapologetic. For everything.

Damien O’Carroll/Stuff

The 4.0-litre twin-turbo V8 is utterly volcanic and totally unapologetic. For everything.

Oh, absolutely, and for all those reasons. It is a charming and outrageous thing that makes a statement like no other car on the road today, even if that statement is about what a total tosser you are for driving it. But it so utterly over-the-top that it is almost a tongue-in-cheek statement.

The G 63 is very much in on that joke. The driver often is… not always though.

The fact that Mercedes-Benz invested large amounts of money and effort into creating a modern SUV with contrived and utterly self-conscious retro styling (external hinges, fender-top mounted indicators and the like all cost silly amounts of time and money to develop for modern safety standards) that roars, bellows ands spits like a racing car shows that it is completely on-board with the joke too – AMG knows total tossers but the G 63 and is completely happy with that.

After a bit of a climb you find yourself in a hugely luxurious interior, although how much you like it will depend on your attitude towards red.

Damien O’Carroll/Stuff

After a bit of a climb you find yourself in a hugely luxurious interior, although how much you like it will depend on your attitude towards red.

It is, of course, ridiculously expensive and a shouty exclamation of conspicuous consumption that a total tosser uses to announce that yes, they are extremely wealthy so don’t have to care about silly things like you, your children, road rules or, indeed, the planet we live on. I mean, 301 grams of CO2 per kilometre? Come on… that’s pretty much inexcusable these days…

To this end, I do absolutely hate it as well. A big part of me simply wants to burn it for being an insult to the planet and everyone on it (arguably producing less carbon than a couple of fast traffic light starts…), and, of course, the angry anti-establishment teenager in me desperately wants to carve a large and crude representation of male genitalia into the bonnet.

But another part of me (that, let’s face it, is a total tosser) simply loves it for its completely over-the-top silliness, ferocious performance and blatant disregard for your silly opinion.

But why?!

The shoutily obnoxious icing on the cake are those side pipes that are both awesome and ruin any pretence at going properly off-road, despite packing three diffs...

Damien O’Carroll/Stuff

The shoutily obnoxious icing on the cake are those side pipes that are both awesome and ruin any pretence at going properly off-road, despite packing three diffs…

Just take a minute to absorb those numbers at the top of this article – the key ones are 430, 850 and 4.5. That is, of course, the power from the 4.0-litre twin turbo V8, the torque it produces and the time it takes the 2,560kg behemoth to smash through the open road speed limit from a standing start.

If you don’t instantly giggle at the idea of that kind of blatant silliness then you probably shouldn’t be reading the motoring section. Belligerent, inane performance on that level in something so utterly unsuited to it is part of what drives us to love cars of all flavours, and the G 63 S ticks that particular box with so much gusto it carves the tick into the desk underneath.

It is, of course, a Mercedes-Benz as well, which means it is beautifully built and packed with equipment, but then with another horrifically big number – 295,400 – being its price in actual New Zealand dollars, it really should be.

It takes a lot of effort for a modern car to look this old.

Damien O’Carroll/Stuff

It takes a lot of effort for a modern car to look this old.

Inside it is superbly comfortable, but getting there is an unexpected challenge – the G 63 is stupidly tall (always remember to check the clearance of any car ports or garages you head into…), making it quite the climb to get in there, before slamming the door at least twice (you never seem to do it hard enough to properly shut them the first time). Prior to that you had to dig out the key fob to open the door locks using it, because the chunky push button door handles mean there is no keyless entry here.

Once you’re in, you have extremely limited peripheral vision, thanks to the massively wide b-pillars that are right next to your head, but a god-like, commanding view over lesser traffic ahead of you. It is a view that immediately validates your internal total tosser, a feeling reinforced when the engine detonates into life with a totally contrived, utterly unnecessary and thoroughly awesome explosion of noise.

Does it go around corners though?

While the G 63’s front (and all of it, really) is very square, there are a few round bits on it.

Damien O’Carroll/Stuff

While the G 63’s front (and all of it, really) is very square, there are a few round bits on it.

Oh, yes. Ridiculously well for something as large as a block of flats that sits on a ladder chassis. Hell, it does it better than a lot of vehicles that aren’t actually the size and shape of a delivery van and use proper, modern underpinnings. Yes, the G Wagen’s architecture is actually all new, but Mercedes stuck to the tried and tested body on frame construction for the same reason it did everything else consciously old-school on it.

And, yes, it is insanely capable off-road too and even packs three lockable diffs, all of which are rendered largely useless by the two sets of twin exhaust pipes that hang down under the side steps that you would instantly tear off if you even looked at anything more challenging than mounting the kerb outside your favourite cafe.

That does mean its ride quality is less plush than other uber-SUVs, but so be it – you aren’t buying this to cruise quietly along in anonymity anyway.

The Mercedes-AMG G 63 S just doesn’t care what your opinion of it is.

Damien O’Carroll/Stuff

The Mercedes-AMG G 63 S just doesn’t care what your opinion of it is.

Any other cars I should consider?

Possibly the only thing that comes close to the G 63 S in terms of attitude and price, is the Lamborghini Urus (and by extension, but only sort of, its platform-mate, the Bentley Bentayga) that packs similar power and performance, but in a sleeker and pointier form. And, rather remarkably, even it doesn’t shout “Why yes, I AM a tosser” quite so loudly and proudly.

But really, if you have the money to drop close to $300k on a massive CO2-belching super-SUV then you are actually in a position to do some truly meaningful things to reduce your carbon footprint, so just wait a bit for the punchline to the G 63’s elaborate and expensive joke to land sometime around 2025, when Mercedes will launch an all-electric version of the G Wagen that will no doubt spawn a mad AMG variant.

At least that way you can be a complete tosser who actually cares a bit about the planet…



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