Weekend Herald


We can’t understand why 6x6 SUVs aren’t more popular in the mainstream market


In this issue, we’ve talked a bit about mainstream SUV 4x4s. But it’s a truth universall­y acknowledg­ed that the way to get the best out of your family SUV off-road is to make it a six-wheel drive.

There are great examples from recent years. Hennessey Performanc­e turned a Ford F-150 into the Velocirapt­or 6x6 in 2017, California company Wild Boar revealed its Jeep Wrangler-based Hell Hog in 2016 and there’s the Land Rover Defender Kahn Flying Huntsman from 2015.

But our favourite is the 2013 Mercedes-Benz G 63 AMG 6x6, for one very good reason: while all of the above are aftermarke­t conversion­s, the big Benz is a proper factory job (before “Mercedes-AMG” became a brand).

The AMG 6x6 was based on the standard (now-previous generation) G-wagen of course, but one developed into a sixwheeler for the Australian Defence Force.

Work on the Aussie army version started in 2007 and by the time it was in service, AMG decided why not build 100 superluxur­y versions for the road?

Why not, indeed. It boasted AMG’s 5.5-litre twin-turbo V8 in 400kW trim and a seven-speed automatic transmissi­on. The power split was 30:40:30 in normal driving (would any drive be “normal”?), but five differenti­als enabled complete lockup when needed and the tyres could be deflated for offroading and then reinflated from inside the cabin, thanks to a builtin compressor.

At the time, AMG said it was designed to “meet all the topographi­cal and meteorolog­ical challenges which have stopped other vehicles in their tracks to date”.

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