SUB­TLE AS A SLEDGE­HAM­MER

BRABUS G63

Driven - - Driven - Re­port and Im­ages by BERNIE HELLBERG

BRABUS UN­VEILED ITS MERCEDES-AMG G 63-IN­SPIRED SUV JUST AHEAD OF THE 2015 IAA FRANK­FURT MO­TOR SHOW. TWO YEARS DOWN THE LINE, BERNIE HELLBERG DIS­COV­ERS EX­ACTLY WHY IT RE­MAINS ONE OF THE MOST IN­SANE SUVS THAT BRABUS HAS PRO­DUCED.

“Sorry, but the ac­tu­a­tor valve on the ac­tive ex­haust is bro­ken, and it’s stuck on loud…” the Brabus rep tells me as I col­lect what was to be­come one of the most in­sane two days spent be­hind the wheel this year. Con­vinced that said ac­tu­a­tor be­ing bro­ken is prob­a­bly noth­ing, and that the bright yel­low Brabus is al­ready so im­pos­ing that a bit of ex­tra ex­haust din wouldn’t get us too much at­ten­tion. I was wrong.

It turns out that a yel­low leviathan such as this Brabus-en­hanced Mercedes-AMG G63 is ex­po­nen­tially more im­pos­ing when you can hear it com­ing a mile away, never mind that it rat­tles ev­ery win­dow in a kilo­me­tre ra­dius at start-up.

How­ever, a crazy loud ex­haust sys­tem is not all that de­fines this pimped G-Class. Brabus doesn’t do stuff by half mea­sures. The Ger­man spe­cial­ist tun­ing com­pany also treated the range-top­ping Gelän­dewa­gen to some se­ri­ous ex­te­rior kit that in­cludes the big­gest wheels (23 glo­ri­ous inches) and widest low-pro­file rub­ber (305/35) that we’ve ever sam­pled on an SUV, but don’t take them off-road.

Also present are the Brabus front bumper add-on and front bumper skirt with day­time run­ning lights, blacked­out head­lights and car­bon fi­bre bon­net scoop, a roof spoiler, and Brabus badg­ing. In­side the yel­low mon­ster, the al­ready sump­tu­ous Mercedes full-leather in­te­rior has il­lu­mi­nated Brabus en­trance pan­els, spe­cial ‘Race’ shift pad­dles, and branded door lock pins. The full list of op­tions adds ap­prox­i­mately R600,000 to the stan­dard G63 ask­ing price.

OVER THE TOP?

Brabus is well known for their af­ter­mar­ket fit­ment of con­ver­sion kits to Mercedes-Benz cars, of­fer­ing some level of tun­ing or pret­ti­fy­ing for just about ev­ery model in the Benz line-up. But the G63 is on another level.

Is it a level too high, though?

“THE BRABUS G63

IS NOTH­ING IF NOT A HOOT, WITH

A ROAR THAT WILL THRILL ANY PETROLHEAD TO THEIR AB­SO­LUTE

CORE.”

Com­pared to some other Brabus-blown G63 ver­sions, such as the manic Brabus 850 Widestar, our test unit ac­tu­ally seems, dare we say it, some­what tame. Yet, out on the road it is any­thing but that, with the stan­dard spec G63 al­ready sig­nif­i­cant 5.5-litre twin-turbo V8 en­gine pump­ing out its 420 kW and 760 Nm of torque at a scary pace.

Need more power? Brabus will hap­pily add its Pow­erX­tra B63-620 chip to the mix, push­ing power delivery to 456 kW and 820 Nm for an ad­di­tional R120,000.

It is highly un­likely that you need that kind of power on any car, though, and on a two-and-a-half-tonne be­he­moth, it be­comes down­right wild.

AIM AND SHOOT

For starters, the big Brabus stands tall at just un­der two me­ters, which trans­lates into a high cen­tre of grav­ity and a propen­sity for lean­ing into cor­ners at speed. Thanks to its ul­tra-wide tyres and per­ma­nent all­wheel-drive, this slight dis­ori­en­ta­tion won’t de­te­ri­o­rate be­yond any con­trol­lable level in the hands of an ex­pe­ri­enced driver, else rather stick to what the car is re­ally good at: straight line ac­cel­er­a­tion.

The Brabus G63 is noth­ing if not a hoot, with a roar that will thrill any petrolhead to their ab­so­lute core. It won’t fit the bill as a prac­ti­cal off-roader or Mom’s taxi, but it blasts off the line like a sports car, sprint­ing to the 100 km/h mark in an eye-wa­ter­ing 5.5 sec­onds, ever ea­ger to ex­tend the run all the way to its 210 km/h max­i­mum speed.

Con­se­quently, though, the G63 has a su­per stiff sus­pen­sion setup that some­times feels like it rides on solid rock – the ul­tra-low pro­file tyres of­fer­ing lit­tle in the way of a cush­ion­ing ef­fect, while sub­stan­tially in­creas­ing in­crease the turn­ing ef­fort re­quired, even with power as­sis­tance.

LAST WORD

There is noth­ing un­der­stated about Brabus-tuned Mercs in gen­eral, and the G63 is per­haps the least sub­tle of the lot. It is also the loudest, most im­pos­ing, the heav­i­est, and thanks to its ur­ban-only tyres, one of the least fit-to-pur­pose SUVs around. In the end, none of that re­ally mat­ters, though, as this beasty is all about mak­ing big im­pres­sions, and that it does ex­ceed­ingly well.

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