Mercedes-amg G 63
Expensive but wonderful in every way. Say hello to your “forever car”, says Ben Samuelson.
If you had to pick a single car to last the rest of your life, what would you choose? I always used to think I’d get a 1950s bentley r-type Continental. Caddish from its chrome over-riders to its tapered tail, it seats four, is capable of 120mph and would allow a chap to spend his declining years practising his Terry-thomas pronunciation of “shower” in velvet smokingjacketed splendour. but there is only one car that is actually designed specifically to see out an ex-racing driver shooting enthusiast and it’s the G 63.
The G-wagen, or Geländewagen, was originally designed for the Shah of Iran’s military, but unfortunately didn’t arrive before his enemies came knocking. Had he had a G to escape in, history might have recorded a happier fate for His Imperial majesty. And over the past few decades, the G has continued in production, with civilian versions gaining bigger engines, but never getting away from the car’s utilitarian roots in terms of driving dynamics.
This is the first all-new
G since 1979, not that you’d know to look at the thing. The only parts to be carried over from the old car are the doorhandle button, the sun visors, spare wheel cover, headlight washer nozzles and a single bracket deep in the car’s oily bits. Everything else is new. but it looks almost exactly the same: the same Panzerlike angles, even the same indicators sitting up on top of the wings, but now designed to disappear downwards if you hit something, possibly among a group of rioting civilians outside the gates of your palace.
The inside, however, is very different, with double digital 12in screens, much more elbow and shoulder room for your beefier mates to sit beside you and even a 590-watt burmester stereo. The seats are trimmed in butter-soft leather and every switch feels like it is machined from billet. It also has a lowrange gearbox and a proper ladder frame chassis so it is practically unstoppable off-road. When I drove the old one, I said that after a nuclear war, the only things left moving would be cockroaches driving G-wagens and that feeling of invincibility is maintained in the new car. The only limit is that it doesn’t have air suspension so its ground clearance isn’t quite the same as the range rover in full tippytoes mode and, at 700mm, its wading depth is a little less too. but the reason for not having air suspension probably explains the philosophy of the G better than anything else. It isn’t there, say the car’s development engineers, because they can’t make the components last 15 years under the most extreme conditions. Nowhere else do car people think like that.
On the road, it is a revelation to those who have spent a lot of time in the old one, like
I have. Gone is the recirculating ball steering — now the G has a modern rack-and-pinion system to go with its independent suspension and massive brakes, which is a good thing as the G 63 is fast. It is not just quick for a 2.5-tonne SUV, it is quick by any standards, with 60mph coming up in just 4.5 seconds. That is because the only G currently available in the UK has a mighty 57bhp twin-turbo V8.
It isn’t cheap. but then neither is a top-quality rifle and you should buy a G in the same way as a forever car. If you wait until 2019, you’ll be able to get a diesel, which won’t be as much fun but might make more sense as your forever Gunbus. Score: 4½ out of 5
The AMG G 63 is a revelation on the road.