Wicked, monstrous and extremely desirable!

S. Muralidhar | Updated on: Mar 14, 2019

Mercedes-AMG’s G63 is a rare breed; its oxymoronic position and allure remains unaffected even after 40 years of remaining largely the same

There are cars, and then there is the Mercedes-AMG G63, which defies any sort of conventional definition. It looks like a sports utility vehicle, amazingly is capable of near supercar-like straight-line acceleration, though it can’t take corners like one, and yet can also cross continents. It’s design, incidentally, has also remained the same for 40 years. Despite the utter lack of a convincing purpose or position, the G63 AMG possesses this ‘James Bond-esque’ desirability. Broken down to its nuts, bolts and panels, the G-Wagen (on which the G-Class and G63 are based) would seem like an expensive version of an old, 70’s communist-era box on wheels; even the latest generation model. But, take it in standing under the sun with that defiant stance and bloated sense of self-importance, and you would find it inexplicably difficult to peel your eyes away. If you do manage to get behind the wheel of the G63 AMG, then is when the ‘surreality’ of this vehicle really sinks in. This one is far greater than the sum of its parts.

There is probably no parallel to the G-Class, of a vehicle that has changed so little over its life cycle, and yet has retained its allure and evolved into a global icon. It has remained nearly unchanged in four decades to a point of seeming like it is being made with the very same dies and jigs of the original Geländewagen. There are others in a similar cast like the Land Rovers and the Volkswagen Beetle, all of which draw design inspiration from their originals and reinterpret it for a modern take. Not the G-Wagen, it is almost identical to the 1979 model; in fact it is identical to so many of the other spin-offs that the original spawned.

Designed identity

The G-Wagen, on which the G63 AMG is based in spirit and design, was originally meant to be for use in rustic conditions and for military applications. In fact, you can still find a few shovelling snow on European roads. It’s all-terrain ability and rugged, built-like-a-tank image also comes from this historical connect. Unlike other cars that have relatively shorter six- to seven-year cycles for each generation, this is only the third generation for the G-Wagen and for the G63 AMG too. Somewhere along the way during its long second generation cycle, folks at Stuttgart must have realised that the continued success of the ‘G’ hinges on the perpetuation of its design. So, they didn’t mess with it. Despite an increase in dimensions, the third-gen, 2019 G63 is still built like a brick wall, with mostly sharp, straight edges and vertical panels that are very close to the original design. There is more than a hint of modernity in its new design overall, but the signature elements have been left untouched. The same circular headlamps (though with multibeam LEDs inside), the identical shape of the wheel arches, the exposed door hinges, the same door handles and even the ridge that runs from the A-pillar around the roof giving the impression of a skull cap have been retained as is. The slightly curved front with the AMG Panamericana grille, the aggressive, modern fender with air scoops, the flared wheel arches for a stronger off-roader character and the unique side-exiting twin exhausts are the other exterior features. Another G-Wagen trademark are the raised turn indicator lenses mounted at the top of the side panels and right next to the clamshell bonnet. The rear still features a swing open tailgate with the spare wheel mounted on it; the tail-lamps design has changed, though they are still positioned low and just above the fender. The wheel arches are nicely filled out with the choice of either 21-inch or 22-inch specially designed alloys.

Plush, secure cabin

If Merc designers and engineers were focussed on preservation and evolution for the exterior of the 2019 G63 AMG, their brief for the cabin was to make it plusher with an even greater selection of premium materials. Again, there are a lot of pointers to its utilitarian side, like the grab handle on the dash and the over upright orientation of the dashboard that is so typical of older SUVs. Only difference in the new G63 is the addition of a range of premium materials to choose from for the trim, including carbon-fibre and open pore wood, and of course, there is enough contrast stitched leather and matt aluminium trim elements in the cabin. The centre console and the driveline tunnel is still like a low wall separating the driver and front passenger. But, there is more shoulder room at the front and more legroom at the rear. This is one heavy vehicle, more than two-and-a-half tonnes, but if you wanted simple proof that it is also built like a tank, try opening and closing the doors. It feels like you are fighting both gravity and your muscular weakness.

Tank or rocket?

The previous generation G63 AMG featured a supercharged, 5.5-litre, V8 petrol engine that delivered 544 hp of peak power and 760 Nm of peak torque. The 2019 G63 gets a smaller, but more powerful mill that is hand-built by engineers in Affalterbach, near Stuttgart. The new four-litre V8 Biturbo engine generates 585 hp and 850 Nm; enough to propel the G63 from 0-100 kmph in 4.5 seconds. Unlike the previous gen’s seven-speed tranny, the 2019 model gets the nine-speed Speedshift TCT with double-declutching function, which attempts to bring in some efficiency into the mix. Get behind the wheel and there is an instantaneous, inexorable urge for a heavy right foot. Leave the exhaust flaps open and you’re rewarded with a series of blats and burbles every time you tap the throttle, which seems out of place coming off the sides of a heavy SUV.

Straight-line acceleration is enormous and the G63’s nose literally lifts up as the rear-biased permanent four-wheel drive takes over and sends power to the wheels stabilising the launch. Taking fast corners and braking hard gives you the impression of this being a bit top heavy, though there is enough bite from the massive 15.7-inch brakes and six-piston calipers at the front. Ride quality is expectedly a bit hard, though AMG Ride Control and adjustable damping can get you a more accommodative setting. But I wonder what some of the features like start-stop, cylinder deactivation and modes like comfort are doing in a vehicle like this. On the same lines, don’t bother asking about the mileage .

There is only a hint of the G63’s body on ladder-chassis build, with much of the platform limitations being compensated by the suspension and all-wheel drive system. So, though most owners are hardly going to even let their G63s step out of the hard shoulder, it has the equipment needed to make it one of the most capable off-roaders in its class. The drivetrain offers a low-range transfer case and three (front, centre and rear) differential locks.

Bottom Line

The G63 cabin features the same, long, unified digital display that we’ve seen in the S-Class. It combines the central infotainment, multi-function display and digital instrument cluster. Though this misses out on the MBUX system, it is unique in that it can be customised to display info like race timer and G force.

The G63 is not a vehicle you buy, it is one that you covet, dream about and possess without the need for exercising your grey matter. In case you do need to know, it’s ex-showroom price is ₹2.19 crore.

Mercedes-Benz’s internal pet name for the G63 is G-Rex. Kind of apt for a vehicle that hasn’t changed much in ages, is a symbol of power and can literally climb out of any situation on the road — just like the Dino. Only difference is the G63 is unlikely to become extinct even after a meteor strike.

Published on March 14, 2019
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