Ares X-Raid spices the Mercedes G-Class up with Italian flair
Bored with the same old Wranglers and G-Classes but not so sure you want to go all-out Rezvani Tank? New bespoke shop Ares Design offers a different option, completing making over the Mercedes-AMG G63 into the sportier, more modern X-Raid with all that Graz-built ruggedness below. For good measure, it drops an extra 200 hp in while cutting 440 lb (200 kg) with help from plenty of carbon fiber.
G-Class styling has evolved only mildly over the four decades the model has been on the market, leaving the modern G looking much like the original. And why not? There's something timeless about a rugged, sharp-edged utility vehicle built to wander roadless stretches of earth. Still, some potential buyers might be itching for a new look.
History tells us that waiting for Mercedes to dramatically update the G-Class in more 2017/18 style is an exercise in futility, so Ares has stepped in. It completely overhauls the G-Class body with carbon fiber and aluminum pieces, giving it a much rounder, smoother appearance. The sharp angles and flat roofline of the cabin remain intact, but the remainder of the body has been softened up and stylized. The X-Raid rides on 22-in bespoke Ares forged wheels.
Ares makes sure that it doesn't water the G down into GL territory, with the pictured bull bar up front and roof-integrated lighting giving the X-Raid an off-road-ready presence that ties in with the G-Class bones below. The 4x4 ends up looking like a sporty, playful SUV optimized for all-out, dust-kicking desert speed runs, as opposed to the utilitarian, military-inspired G-Class that wears the look of slower, more measured off-road wanderer.
We're guessing Ares' coach work will prove a polarizing topic, alienating G-Wagen traditionalists while attracting the eyes of others. However, few on either team will likely argue too passionately against the boost up to 760 hp, produced by the tuned 5.5-liter V8 biturbo. Ares lists top speed at 155 mph (250 km/h), but doesn't jot down acceleration numbers.
Mercedes' interiors aren't exactly second-rate, but if you're going to completely redesign the G-Class, you had better finish the job. Ares overhauls the interior with its own Nappa leather package, a completely fresh cockpit design, two VIP seats in the rear, and a sport steering wheel. The new dashboard and center console have a smoother, more integrated design thanks largely to the upper hood that sweeps over top the instruments and infotainment screen before dropping down in front of the passenger.
Ares was founded by former Lotus CEO Dany Bahar and recently moved into a 190,000-sq ft (18,000-sq m) factory space in Modena, Italy, where it will build to order the X-Raid and other custom creations based on models like the Land Rover Defender, Mercedes-Benz Viano and Bentley Mulsanne. It sounds like we'll be seeing more of these vehicles in the near future.
So what do you think? Does Ares effectively modernize and improve upon the G-Class, or is it more a case of, "It wasn't broken, why'd you try to fix it?"