Retro & Rugged

Dhiram Shah wonders if the Mercedes G63 AMG is the most eccentric SUV money can buy

mercedes Mercedes G63 AMG

The roots of the Mercedes G63 AMG (Edition 463) can be traced back to the 1970s. It was when the Shah of Iran, who was then a major shareholder of Mercedes-Benz, commissioned a military vehicle. Unfortunately, the Shah’s order was cancelled, but Mercedes went ahead and made a commercial version, and has been updating it ever since by adding creature comforts and safety features. Popularly known as the G-Wagen, its current avatar still retains the old boxy look from its yesteryears. After all, this is the look that off-roading enthusiasts swear by.

The current design is a clever mash-up of old and new. The old-school round headlamps are complemented by strips of bright daytime running lights, the massive 20-inch alloy wheels have bright red calipers, while the squarish ORVM’s (Outside Rear View Mirror) are covered by carbon-fibre. Undoubtedly, this car gets a lot of attention for its massive front bumper, the huge front air intakes, the stainless side steps, the side exhaust pipes, and the enormous spare wheel mounted at the back. Just look at this beast from any angle, and it will surely bring a smirk on your face.

A special car needs a special engine and powering this beast is a 5.3- litre, V8 bi-turbo petrol engine that is hand assembled by AMG, the performance division of Mercedes-Benz. The engine churns out 544 hp and 760 Nm of ground-shaking torque, but what is rather impressive is that this 2.6-tonne behemoth can go for 0 to 100kmph in just 5.4 seconds. To put it in perspective, it is just a second slower than a Porsche 911. The engine is paired with a 7-speed AMG Speedshift Plus transmission, which delivers power to the four wheels with a mix of mechanical and high-tech tricks.

Step inside and you know that you are in a modern-day Mercedes. The dashboard is covered in the finest of twin-switched black leather with hints of carbon fibre that amplify the sportiness. At the centre of the dashboard, a 7-inch screen paired with a click wheel lets you access the navigation, entertainment, connectivity and other functions.

The front seats are crafted by AMG and, along with the usual electronic adjustments, come with side bolstering. After all, you need to be comfortable when conquering terrains or dashing through empty roads. However, the same cannot be said for the rear seats, which are placed according to the original military grade G-63 and result in less legroom, especially for tall passengers.

So, how does it feel to get behind the wheel of this mammoth? To put it simply,t it is amazing. Press the pedal and the handcrafted 5.5-litre engine fills its lungs with air and lets out a roar loud enough to silence a road construction crew, all while your back merges with the seat and the tacho jumps to triple-digit speeds as the scenery around you blurs away. The G-Wagen has a permanent all-wheel drive with electronic traction system and three differential locks. I did use one of the differentials during my little stint of off-roading in one of the valleys of Lonavala (it had it all—rocks, gravel, grass, and rains). The wheels just stuck to the ground while I kept going.

Given the weight, there is considerable body roll and, needless to say, corners and curves are not the strongest point for the G63, but, give it a straight road and it will just cut through it like a knife through warm butter.

The Mercedes G63 AMG delivers an amazing driving experience, but not without its shortcomings. I must say that buying this car is anything but a practical decision. For the price, there are luxury SUVs that do more for less money, namely the Porsche Cayenne Turbo, Range Rover Sport SVR and the Range Rover. But, none of the above have the appeal of the G63, a timeless classic with a brutal V8 inside.

Specs Mercedes G63 AMG (Edition 463)

Engine 5461cc, 8 cylinders, twin-turbo petrol

Power 536 bhp @ 5500 RPM

Torque 760 Nm @ 2000 RPM

Transmission Automatic, 7 speed AMG speed shift

0-100kmph 5.4 seconds

Top speed 210kmph

City fuel efficiency 4.5kmph

Highway fuel efficiency 5.2kmph

Airbags 8

Safety ABS, EBD, traction control, ASR, BAS.

Price (on-road) 02.5 crore

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