SUBTLE AS A SLEDGEHAMMER
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
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.
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.