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.
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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.