Germany's Brabus has carved itself a niche in the ultra-high premium car market by taking cars that are already very expensive and exquisitely engineered, and turning them into high-powered bespoke machines crafted for the mega-wealthy. The latest is the Brabus 800 iBusiness, a widebody Mercedes G 65 with an 800 hp, 1,420 Nm, 6.0 liter V12 biturbo engine and a range of connectivity and display options to match any well-funded Silicon Valley start-up's offices.
Of recent times Brabus has begun customizing Range Rovers, though it has traditionally specialized in Mercedes-Benz, Smart and Maybach vehicles, and became the largest independent Mercedes tuner in the world when Mercedes purchased AMG two decades ago.
It's not the performance which will make the all-wheel-drive Brabus 800 iBusiness most attractive to Gizmag's readership though – it's the connectivity, computing power and display options which have been integrated within the interior, turning it into the ultimate mobile office.
Brabus was one of the first bespoke customization companies to integrate computers, multimedia and telecommunications into cars. Gizmag's automotive reporters have been drooling over Brabus' multimedia functionality for a decade at the Frankfurt, Paris and Geneva auto shows.
Since that time, as digital technology has developed at such a rapid pace, Brabus has continued to incorporate a wide range of high-tech internal options into its vehicles, and the G 65 show car to be displayed at the Geneva Motor Show next week is designed as a showcase for the company's capabilities. Communication is just one of the themes as music, movies and games are also available via an iPad mini, Mac mini, iPod touch and Apple TV.
A Mac Mini computer is the hub of all the functionality, and it is housed (along with the Apple TV and power amp) in a console in the trunk. The rear seating area of the G-Class contains the biggest changes. The standard bench seat bench has been replaced by individual seats with an integrated seat ventilation system.
A console between the rear seats contains most of the multimedia components, docking stations for the iPad mini and iPod touch plus a refrigerator, a folding and swiveling table for each rear seat, concealed storage of keyboard/mouse plus USB ports for connecting to the Mac mini. The DVD changer of the standard COMAND system was also integrated into the multimedia options.
Brabus also specializes in creating bespoke business jet interiors, so craftsmanship and integration is both seamless and immoderate. A 15.6-inch LCD monitor hides in the finest leather and Alcantara headliner to be deployed remotely. You can have the high-end sound system of your choice tailored to the G-Class interior with the iPod touch serving as the content source.
The iPad mini is integrated into the vehicle’s on-board electronics system, and controls the multimedia equipment via it's touch-screen interface.
At night, the lighting ambiance for the black all-leather interior can be entirely controlled with lighting between the seats and in the roof plus the gimbaled LED reading lights in the roof-mounted console.
Naturally, Brabus also offers interiors in any color of soft and breathable Brabus Mastik leather and Alcantara, with many leather upholstery designs and wood or carbon-fiber inlays.
In standard form, the Mercedes G 65 AMG Final Edition runs a 463 kW (630 hp) 6.0 Liter V12 Biturbo and is the world's most powerful production off-road vehicle.
The Brabus is upgraded to 800 hp, adding more than 25 percent to the power, plus 42 percent more torque, though in practice, peak torque is limited electronically to 1,100 Nm (811 lb-ft). While that's only 10 percent extra grunt, if you plan on getting the pedal to the metal in a beastie such as this, might we suggest some special neck exercises at the gym might be in order.
In order to extract the extra motive force, Brabus developed a high-tech twin turbo system with turbo housings integrated into the exhaust manifolds for the custom-developed, high-performance turbochargers. The new turbos are designed to produce a higher boost pressure than the production turbos, plus further optimize throttle response. Four water-to-air intercoolers ensure lower charge-air temperatures, making the mobile office equally at home in extreme conditions such as the desert. Brabus has found a ready-made market for its wares in oil-rich Middle Eastern countries and now exhibits regularly at the Dubai International Motor Show. Twin air filter boxes are positioned in the front fenders to ensure an adequate supply of clean air for the force-fed engine.
As can be expected, the exhaust includes a few tricks for the young at heart. The stainless-steel exhaust system includes free-flow metal catalysts for almost-responsible emissions, while there's a "sound management" system built in via a controlled butterfly valve. That big brutal V12 engine can be whisper quiet for slipping into the garage past hometime, or bellow its power to the world in the “Sport” position, all operated by a button on the steering wheel.
All this trickery is choreographed by a cleverly mapped engine management system which maintains emission compliance within Euro V standards. The high-tech lubricants for the entire powertrain are supplied by technology partner Motul.
The Brabus 800 will reach 100 km/h (62 mph) from standstill in 4.2 seconds, with an electronically-limited top speed of 250 km/h (155 mph) though removing the limiter will enhance maximum velocity to 270 km/h (167 mph). That's mightily impressive considering the vehicle has a distinctly un-aerodynamic shape and the frontal area of a small building.
There are a host of vanity features which backlight logos and the like, but one of the functional lighting highlights are the Brabus xenon headlights which replace the production headlights of the G model, and include special integrated LED daytime running lights that also serve as turn signals. This renders the production turn signals on top of the fenders obsolete, so those openings are closed with custom covers made of clear carbon fiber to add another visually-distinctive highlight.
The new wheel arches make room for fat 23-inch forged wheels wearing 305/35 R 23 high-performance tires from your choice of Continental, Pirelli or Yokohama.
We could go on and on about the attention to detail in myriad technological features, but one that stands out as very useful if you're planning on driving both in town and in the wilds, as this vehicle is equally capable of, is the suspension.
Developed in conjunction with Bilstein, the suspension is adjustable at the press of a button in the center console between two setups via electronically adjustable shock absorbers. In the "comfort" position, Brabus claims the ride is even better than the standard production car, but when the mood takes you, pressing the button for "sport" mode firms the handling.
On top of that, the Ride Control suspension has automatic damper adjustment. If the vehicle sensor systems detect that certain parameters such as speed, lateral acceleration and steering angle might lead to a critical handling situation, the suspension is automatically switched to the sport setting to improve stability. Conversely, when the driver gets off the gas and adopts a more relaxed driving style, the CAN control unit reverts to comfort mode.
Paying this much money for a car probably won't give you too many concerns about paying the freight at the gas station, but, just for the record, the Brabus 800 iBusiness delivers city economy of 22.7 l/100 km, highway economy of 13.7 l/100 km, and a combined 17.0 l/100 km, while CO2 emissions for the combined cycle run to 397 g/km.
Not clean enough? No problem!
If those figures disturb you, and you are both independently wealthy and environmentally aware, Brabus caters to all people with deep pockets and one of its recent show cars was an all-wheel electric E-Class Mercedes with 320 kW of peak power and a stunning 3,200 Nm of Torque.
The electric E-Class has a top speed of 220 km/h (137 mph), a 0–100 km/h time of 6.9 seconds and 350 km range, all without emitting as much as a single gram of CO2 at the tailpipe. The Zero Emission business division of Brabus is recognized by the German Federal Motor Vehicle Department as an automobile manufacturer of alternative-drive cars in its own right.
Not enough room inside? No problem!
Yet another Brabus offering is the iBusiness 3D, described as a "3D Multimedia Lounge on Wheels."
The Brabus “iBusiness 3D” is based on the Mercedes Viano the interior designers and combines state-of-the-art 3D entertainment technology from Sony with Apple components such as iPad and Mac mini that control the entire on-board multimedia equipment.
The rear compartment of the Brabus iBusiness 3D is dominated by a full HD screen that can be deployed from the partition wall behind the front seats at the push of a button. The screen is a 40-inch Sony LED monitor with state-of-the-art 3D technology. The 3D movies are played on a Samsung Blu-ray player. A DVBT receiver for TV reception is available in addition.
The 40-inch screen is also the main monitor for the integrated Mac mini computer system, which is connected to the internet via UMTS and HSDPA protocols and features a wireless WiFi network for integrating the other computers on board the vehicle.
Maximum comfort in an exclusive ambiance is a decisive characteristic of the lounge concept and the rear compartment has two powered comfort chairs with power footrests that can be reclined all the way to a sleeping position.
When driving at night the Brabus starry sky, created by more than tiny 400 fiber-optic lights integrated into the Alcantara headliner, provides a highly exceptional atmosphere in the rear compartment of the minivan.
A fragrancing module controlled from the iPad also contributes to the sense of well-being on board the Brabus iBusiness 3D. A safe that can only be opened by means of a fingerprint scan provides a secure storage space for important documents and other valuables.
Not fast enough? No problem!
If getting to the next meeting might mean the difference between selling an oil-well or not, might we suggest the Brabus 850 Biturbo iBusiness. Shown last September, the 850 stands for the number of horsepower the motor produces, making it the fastest office on wheels in the world, with 850 hp, 1,450 Nm torque and a top speed of 350 km/h (217 mph).
Not macho enough? No problem!
Neighbor drives a Hummer? Brabus has that covered too. You can get the iBusiness package fitted to any Mercedes or Range Rover, but the go-anywhere-you-like Brabus B63S 6x6 has an extra dose of steroids. The 700 hp 5.5-liter V8 Biturbo engine feeds power to all six wheels, weights four tons and is electronically limited to 160 km/h (99 mph) due to its off-road tires.
Brabus vehicles are not cheap. The manufacturer exists in the upper stratosphere of luxury vehicles and will cater to any whim, or need, including armor plating. Only a small percentage of people can afford vehicles such as Brabus produces.
In the cut-throat world of commerce though, much of the iBusiness package should be able to be offered as an accessible package by the horde of automotive manufacturers who make cars for the proletariat. Maybe they could consider the wired middle class and begin delivering optional extras for our vehicles that have some genuinely useful options beyond an iPod dock.