Truth be told, only a few autos are as over spec’d for their everyday territory as the 2019 Mercedes-AMG G63. Mercedes’ iconic “G Wagon” may be a genuine off-roader, but its distinctive design is more familiar from Hyde Park and Sandton Drive than out in the mud, or any part of the Free State for that matter.
With this newest generation, the question is whether Mercedes has thinned the G Class for the unavoidable on-road tastes, or if this rebooted beast is as barefaced as ever.
First impressions allude that the 2019 AMG G63 is bigger, and it definitely is a bigger SUV than it used to be. 5.3cm longer, and about 12cm wider. You get more shoulder space as a result and almost 15cm more legroom at the back. Strangely there is still only a regularly sized sunroof, rather than the spacious panoramic glass we’re used to from other modern luxury vehicles.
For the AMG G63 you pay luxury car money. The AMG G63 Edition 1 we had on test is priced at R3 086 653.
That could be because it unapologetically looks the part. Obviously related to the G Class it replaces, though cleaner and more expressive the more you stare at it. Only three parts were carried over: the chunky door handles, headlamp washers and the spare wheel cover. Still, the fierce aesthetic is distinctive.
Until today, my heart cannot escape the damn gravitational pull of the G63. It’s like a child’s drawing of a car brought to life. A dump truck for grown-ups; a mindful decision to ignore the smoothed shapeless SUV nonsense of modern cars. As a result, I’ve felt that one gets constant wind noise at highway speeds, but who cares when it looks this flippen good?
My heart cannot escape the damn gravitational pull of the G63
There are some vehicles of which in those first few minutes of sitting behind the wheel, make you feel superior. Powerful, even. The G63 with its thick, moulded steering wheel wrapped in punctured leather and its contemptuous seating position, swallows you in a way that you really can’t foresee from the outside. It just feels too good, and naturally, you’ll feel really good, too.
I know, this is a luxe vision from an era at death’s door. A petrol guzzling, brutalist and unremorseful behemoth. There’s no hybrid, fc*k no, just conspicuous wastefulness of a sort we’re meant to be leaving behind.
With sales of the G wagon already measured in the thousands, perhaps that doesn’t matter so much. The AMG G63 has a new AMG 4.0-liter V8 biturbo, hand-made and delivering a pungent 430 kWof power and 850 Nm of torque. It cuts the 0-100km/h time to an amazing 4.5 seconds. It has a 9-speed automatic transmission with wider gear ratios, just like we asked for, which means a single gearbox can deliver the goods both on-road and off as we experienced in Clarens.
According to Mercedes, the suspension has been completely re-engineered with the help of AMG’s engineers and it’s quite evident. The vehicles features new Dynamic modes, too, three on-road and a fourth “G Mode” for off-road use. Active brake assistance and lane-keeping assistance is available, along with the latest version of Mercedes’ adaptive cruise control. It all feels like the S Class.
That’s not to say it’s disappointing. Nowhere is it near that. Plant your right foot on the paddle and the G63 surges forward with a pace that’s epic. Like a glacier, torn free of the ice flow and hurtling with a mass you can feel on the back of your neck.
Did we mention that that the G63 has Sport Plus mode? And of course, you’d want it. Why would you, how could you not? Body roll isn’t supressed entirely but enough to make throwing what’s a considerably sized dare-I-say truck into mountain corners feel adequately short of death.
Over increasingly tougher series of rock climbs, unrestrained inclines in both directions, and general lastagheid, the G63’s talents became clear. Special visuals on the 12.3-inch infotainment screen show steering angle and degree of incline or flip over to cameras at the corners when you need a little extra assurance that there’s still some path left ahead of you. Hovering at the top of a edge, the G’s creases picked out in contrasting dust and grit, I felt both a sense of strange satisfaction as well as disappointment that most G-Class owners would never feel this side of their SUV.
At some point I had to wonder whether Mercedes could not quietly do away with all that terribly clever – and cleverly capable – off-road hardware and make a G-Wagon for the road alone. Leave it with all-wheel drive, naturally, but also recognize that almost 99% of owners probably would need no more than that. Would that be a practical suggestion, or a weakening of what makes the whole thing special in the first place? You tell me.
Did the we mention that that the G63 has Sport Plus mode? And of course, you want it
After my time with it, I can’t help but recommend the AMG G63 to friends and family. If you’re going to be stubbornly excessive, go get the whole thing. Matte black paint, foursome of gleaming exhausts poking snoutish from under the running boards, and that special red AMG pinstriping that completes the look.
While we’re here, get the 22-inch wheels and the cream cabin leather of a shade, so singularly unsuitable to the off-road lifestyle, that it makes you gasp each time you have to climb inside. Refuse to apologise for treating yourself to more speakers, more subwoofers and try not to smirk when pedestrians cringe as the power door locks slam closed like a cell door in maximum security. It’s your door, goddamnit!
Only a few things defy logic. Some purchases defy logical intelligence. The G-Class makes little practical sense unless you really need a Dune-ready limousine, but that’s also really not the point I’m trying to make.
The point is that you want it because it’s big, and unbending, and a little bit stout (read this in Afrikaans), but all in the best imaginable way.