G-Class (incl AMG)
The G-Class is the longest-serving passenger car in Mercedes-Benz history and has accolades such as winning the Paris-Dakar Rally and transporting the Pope amongst its long list of achievements. It is the ultimate off-roader and an all-new second generation version was launched in 2018.
The goodIt can take on any challenge and beat it
The badYou’ll need to take along extra fuel
Mercedes-AMG G 63
How can you describe something as unique and charismatic as the Mercedes-AMG G 63? Well, for starters it’s 2.5-tonnes of pure muscle that has legendary off-roading capabilities. Yet somehow it can power its way from 0-62mph in just 4.5 seconds and, oh yes, it will set you back a mere £141k.
So with such varying talking points it’s difficult to know where to start really – perhaps at the beginning. The vehicle’s history dates back to the 1970s in various guises often designed for military use, then the passenger G-Class, or as it’s more affectionately known, G-Wagon appeared almost four decades ago. It remained virtually unaltered until last year when the second generation model was launched.
But the all-new G-Class is anything but a mild make-over without being so radical that it scares off existing. The five-door vehicle still maintains all its traditional iconic design cues such as the box-like silhouette, a full-sized spare wheel on the rear door with an aluminium cover, round headlamps, external door hinges and the rippled bonnet.
However, explore beneath the surface and it’s all new. Mercedes has replaced the outgoing 5.5-litre V8 engine with a brand new AMG 4.0-litre V8 biturbo petrol unit that generates 585hp and delivers a maximum torque of 850Nm. And with that mighty engine powering the AMG G 63, the performance stats cannot fail to impress with that blisteringly quick 0-62mph sprint time plus a top speed of 137mph. Our test car also featured an additional AMG Drivers Package that increased the maximum speed to an electronically-limited 149mph.
If you’re the sort of person that enjoys a quiet, unassuming existence, then the G-Wagon is not the car for you. That’s because it’s big, bold and brutal with go-anywhere off-road ability. It’s also quite a noisy beast with quad exhausts split into pairs that emerge from beneath the rear doors.
Yet, move inside, or rather climb on board, and there is a level of elegance and charm within the vehicle that belies its rugged and robust exterior styling, along with a wealth of on-board technology to explore. For example, there is the finest Nappa leather upholstery and powered seats with memory settings, an electric sliding sunroof, 64-colour ambient lighting, black flamed open-pore ash wood trim, a heated steering wheel and heated rear seats.
Techno treats are plentiful with Mercedes’ COMAND Online navigation system, a 12.3-inch media display and 12.3-inch instrument display where the likes of smartphone integration via Apple CarPlay or Android Auto is discovered. A 15-speaker Burmester sound system is guaranteed to drown out any road surface or engine noise and when you reach your destination in the dark, open the door and you are greeted with a giant Mercedes three-pointed star lighting up the pavement. It’s more like a puddle floodlight than puddle lamp.
Comfort levels within the G-Class are deceptively good, and the ride and handling have certainly been refined for the latest model. Despite bearing a resemblance to a giant shipping container on wheels with a high centre of gravity, the G-Wagon drives really well. Admittedly tight bends need to be given a certain degree of respect, but the rear-biased all-wheel drive system keeps the car well planted. And when the open road presents itself the driver can take complete control of the gear changes by switching across to Manual and using the steering wheel mounted paddles.
There are different driving modes to choose from with Sport and Sport+ really living up the responses and handling as well as amplifying the volume, but the Comfort setting also delivers a rewarding performance with electrifying acceleration and all the power you could possibly wish for. Admittedly it’s no hatchback, but they would struggle to tow a 3.5-tonne horse-box across an assault course!
The latest G-Wagon has also had a bit of a growth spurt as well as shedding some weight. This means there is extra space for occupants within the car, the performance stats have improved and it’s even more economical to run. On that front though, expect hefty bills at the garage. I refuelled just once during my week-long loan during which I clocked up 650 miles. I gave up with a bill of £102.50 showing on the pump and plenty more room still in the tank.
The official combined fuel economy figure for the AMG G 63 is 21.4mpg although that is when the vehicle is driven relatively conservatively. Drive it hard or in Sport or Sport+ driving modes and the readout on the TFT display will often drop below 10mpg.
Realistically though, anyone splashing out £143,305 (£145,755 with a few options) to buy the AMG G 63 in the first place will have few concerns regarding the running costs. And the first year VED charge of £2,070 along with the five year £310 surcharge for cars costing more than £40k are not likely to act as a deterrents either.
So, when you factor in a raft of innovative safety features and driver aids, the new AMG G 63 is quite a unique piece of kit. It oozes class and charisma, has all the latest creature comforts and is possibly one of the toughest vehicles on our planet, but don’t expect it to make you any friends at Greenpeace.