Brabus transforms Mercedes G-Class into gnarly, dune-sending SxS
Brabus does something a little different to celebrate its 45th anniversary, stripping the Mercedes-AMG G63 into a downright evil off-road buggy that looks plucked straight from the side-by-side market. In fact, the Brabus 900 Crawler is a literal off-highway vehicle that's no longer street-legal in the least. Brabus doesn't abandon its bread-and-butter entirely, dropping in a few hundred extra horses, portal axles and other large-than-life upgrades.
Some people like to take the day off for their birthdays, but Brabus rolled its sleeves up and worked harder than usual, developing its own in-house chassis and buggy-style body for one of its super-vehicle builds for the first time. That bright Brabus-red tubular steel frame is quite an impressive swap, too, leaving the G63 looking more like a Polaris RZR as it extends up and around the cabin to create a proper roll cage. The carbon roof that floats up high gets topped by a prominent red wing in back and LED lighting up front.
Brabus has grown rather fond of portal axles, and it reaches for them once again in order to lift the Crawler up off the ground for a full 20.9 in (53 cm) of clearance. That's helped along by the 40 x 13.50 R20 off-road tires clung to Brabus Monoblock HD forged wheels cushioned by independent front and beam axle rear suspension with four way-adjustable Brabus struts offering 6.3 inches (16 cm) of travel.
Brabus clads its red tubes in aggressive carbon fiber, leaving the doors and window line wide open for naturally breezy off-roading. The high-rise flared fenders connected front-to-rear by broad rocker panels offer room for the 40-inch tires and then some, leaving much of the lower chassis and suspension components exposed for all to see.
Essentially the only thing left to jog one's memory about the Crawler's G-Class roots is the rectangular face with sunken round eyes slapped at the ends of the vertically slatted central grille. There's no mistaking that mug for anything but a G-Class despite the "B" that pushes off from the middle in place of the three-pointed star. Look up, though, and you're drawn right back into deep Brabus territory with the multi-stacked hood that hints at the juiced-up, rumbling V8 below.
Brabus increases engine displacement from 4.0 to 4.5 liters, swaps in its own turbochargers, adds high-pressure fuel pumps and a ram-air intake system, swaps in other upgraded components, and jacks available output to 888 hp at 6,200 rpm and 774 lb-ft of torque (1,050 Nm, electronically limited). All that torque gets sent out to the wheels through Mercedes' nine-speed automatic transmission and permanent AWD with electronic locking differentials.
Despite its imposing size, the high-powered Crawler sprints like a sleek desert cat, pushing 0 to 62 mph (100 km/h) in 3.4 seconds. That's more than a second under the pace of the AMG G63 itself, in no small part because the Crawler loses nearly 1,300 pounds (590 kg) of curb weight as compared to its highway-friendly DNA donor. It also measures in about 10 inches (25 cm) shorter in length, which clearly helps improve the departure angle. Top speed is electronically limited at an even 100 mph (160 km/h).
Brabus keeps the interior as colorful as its frame with four racing seats trimmed in bright-red Silvertex fabric borrowed from its marine line. The material is built to hold up against sun, grit and water, making it ideal for the open, desert-bound cockpit of the Crawler. Brabus also wires up an intercom system for driver/passenger communications and a rally-style off-road nav system.
Brabus plans to stagger its limited 15-model Crawler run at a pace of five deliveries per year starting later this year and running through 2024, selling each example for a base price of €749,000 (approx. US$789,650). That's a few (hundred thousand) bones more than a Polaris RZR Pro R, but unless the Crawler owner is unlucky enough to run into one of the 14 other buyers in the middle of the desert, he'll be autographing the sand with something truly unique on every trip. Or he'll at least have something that stands out next to the innumerable blacked-out urban SUV and flamboyant hypercar tunes that fill the remainder of his vanity garage.
This one's fun to watch.