One of my absolute favorite vehicles on the planet is the Mercedes-Benz G-Wagen. Designed back during a time when dinosaurs still roamed the Earth, the “Gelandewagen” is one of the oldest automotive designs still in existence. This new model is actually the first all-new model since the original debuted back in the ’70s. And Mercedes-Benz went to great lengths to make sure that, despite being all-new, it still looked and felt like the classic, military-grade, off-reading truck that it really is. Though, this new Mercedes-AMG G63 is a lot more glamorous than that and has much more performance.
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Shown at the 2018 New York Auto Show, the Mercedes-AMG G63 is an absolute monster of a machine. Just the sheer size of it is remarkable; it’s massively tall, riding on 22″ wheels and a lifted suspension and a boxy shape that gives passengers about as much headroom as a convertible. It’s an imposing thing, the G-Wagen, which is why it’s so popular among wealthy people who want to feel superior to the peasants they pass on the road. And those buyers (*cough* Kardashians *cough*) give the G-Wagen a bad name, because it actually has quite humble roots.
You wouldn’t know that from the cabin, though. Stepping inside the G63 is like walking into an Oil Sheik’s bedroom. Everything is covered in leather, with absolutely perfect stitching, and it feels unbelievably expensive. We’re talking Bentley-grade luxury, without question. The seats are superbly comfortable, the view out is incredible, thanks to that boxy shape and tall glass, and the headroom feels positively cavernous. I could almost stretch my arms completely up from the driver’s seat (admittedly, I’m short and I adjust my seat quite low).
However, there are areas where the G-Wagen shows off its rugged DNA. Firstly, there’s the badge in the door frame when you open it up that reads “Schöckl Approved”, named after the difficult off-road proving ground on Schöckl mountain in Austria. And Mercedes-Benz really does test the G-Wagen there, making sure that it can handle it with ease. Then, there’s the feel of the thing. The door handle mechanism functions in the same way as the original, with a heavy, mechanical-feeling thumb button to release the door. When you close the door, it makes a loud, mechanical *clack*, not the aristocratic *whoomph* of a typical Mercedes product.
Under that massive hood lies a 4.0 liter twin-turbocharged V8 that makes 577 hp and 626 lb-ft of torque, which is monstrous. That engine is paired with a nine-speed automatic gearbox and it has three, count ’em, three locking differentials. All of which are electronically controlled and can be operated via dash mounted buttons. So you can cross the Mojave without ever breaking a sweat, in supreme, other-worldly luxury. And then when you’re back on pavement, embarrass sports cars in a straight line.
Many enthusiasts hate the Mercedes-AMG G63, for its Kardashian Effect. However, if you really understand what it is and what it can do, and then you actually feel how mechanical and rugged it is, you realize that it’s dripping with character, the sort car enthusiasts love.