Mercedes-Benz has never been shy of the absurd (R-class anyone?) and the Affalterbach works – home of the AMG division – must be a regular giggle-fest. The company is quite happy to indulge the hooligan in its well-heeled clients without a hint of embarrassment. It’s not exactly thinking outside the box, more taking a box and sticking an absurdly massive engine in it. The box in question this time is the decades-old, ex-military transport Geländewagen or G-class. Delicious.
After a period of a few years when it seemed possible that such indulgent machines would never been seen again, it is testament to the present confidence at Mercedes-Benz that, not only is the V8 AMG G-class being refreshed, but for the first time ever there is to be a mind-boggling V12 twin-turbo variant.
First, the externals. The AMG conversion treatment is a pretty standard formula these days. A two-bar radiator grill, extended lower air intakes in black, those LED running lights that annoy every other road-user, extended wheel arches, special alloy wheels and a few chrome badges. What’s amusing is seeing this bling on an SUV from 1979. What’s amazing is that it actually looks quite cool.
The interior has seen quite an upgrade. It’s always been difficult to “luxury-up” the originally utilitarian interior, but this attempt is by far the most successful, with a valiant stab at recreating the interior of a top-spec E-Class. Location of the sat-nav screen is still a bit awkward, though. The V12 G65 model gets the full two-tone quilted soft leather plus carbon-fiber treatment.
So, to the heart of the matter – those engines. The AMG 5.5-litre V8 biturbo in the G 63 (no, the nomenclature make absolutely no sense anymore) develops a maximum output of 400 kW (544 bhp) and a torque of 760 Nm (560 ft.lbs). This enables the new G 63 AMG to accelerate from zero to 100 km/h (62 mph) in 5.4 seconds, with a top speed of 210 km/h (130 mph) electronically limited.
The AMG 6-litre V12 biturbo in the G 65 develops a maximum output of 450 kW (612 bhp) and a torque of 1000 Nm (740 ft.lbs). This enables the new G 63 AMG to accelerate from zero to 100 km/h in 5.3 seconds, with a top speed of 230 km/h (142 mph) electronically limited. This of course makes it the most powerful SUV in the world – but not the fastest. If the performance figures look slightly disappointing, one has to remember that the G-Class has the aerodynamics of a house. A big boxy un-aerodynamic house.
Petrol consumption figures are not quoted as yet but one could make an educated guess – similar to the consumption of small sovereign nation probably, but at least Mercedes has included a stop/start economy function so that you can have a laugh about it.
Transmission is to all four wheels via the usual 7-speed auto box and a couple of trick differentials. Mercedes claims that the chassis and suspension have been extensively worked on compared to previous generation G-Wagens, and that particular attention has been paid to reducing bearing noise and vibration – vital steps in completing the transformation from farm-vehicle to Russian gangster-mobile.
Prices. Wow. The G63 weighs in at €137,500 (£112,000) and the G65 is €264,180 (£215,200). These prices include taxes, so the dollar equivalents without would be US$151,470 and $291,000 respectively.
These vehicles are crazy, absurd and you’ve got to admit, really quite cool.