What is it? The Mercedes G63 AMG – a truly bonkers performance SUV that defies all parameters of sense yet beguiles all who experience it. The price for such absurdity? A supercar-like £123,140 before options… Technical highlights? It’s the quickest model in the G-wagen’s 34-year history, a 5.5-litre twin-turbocharged V8 petrol engine powering all four wheels with 537bhp and 560lb ft peaks. It’s enough to hustle the slab-sided, 2550kg G63 to 62mph in 5.4sec on its way to a 130mph electronic limiter. Merc’s 7G-tronic automatic gearbox engages stop/start at traffic lights – a little fruitless, perhaps, when combined real-world mpg rarely tops 15mpg (a combined 20.5mpg is claimed) – while the stability control pulses the front brakes if it identifies trailer fishtailing when you’re towing. What’s it like to drive? If the answer to this question decides whether you splash Audi R8 Plus money on a car with a 1970s design, you’re probably shopping in the wrong aisle. By our usual criteria this fast G-wagen is comically inept, yet its overall experience is one nigh on most petrolheads ought to savour. It’s certainly brisk. The feeling when the biturbo engine is fully lit, thunderous eight-cylinder gargle spewing from the side-exit exhausts and 2.5 tons of military-spec SUV hurtling forwards, is brain-scramblingly fun. Arrive at a corner, though, and things fall apart. Hard brake use is destabilising, understeer is only avoided with tip-toe speeds and the ESP doesn’t limit the amount of available horsepower with any subtlety. And in all conditions the ride – stiffened and lowered over a regular G-class – is unsettled and the G63 is all too keen to tramline on its fat tyres and 20in rims. The G63’s undeniable road presence and more debatable feelgood factor do something to cancel out its lack of dynamic ability, and if you want the biggest, meanest and rudest sounding SUV on sale, there’s little else to consider. That it comes with proper locking diffs and real mud-plugging ability is probably no more than an interesting aside in this marketplace. How does it compare? Performance SUVs with real dynamic talent are far cheaper – look to the taut-handling £67,147, 414bhp Porsche Cayenne GTS or luxurious £98,395, 503bhp Range Rover 5.0 V8 Autobiography for two different flavours of the breed. If it’s a go-faster 4x4 icon you crave, a Twisted Land Rover Defender is a cool – and British – alternative. Anything else I need to know? Five doors and four wheels simply too dull for you? Direct yourself towards the Mercedes G63 AMG 6x6, a six-wheel-drive road-going monster truck with a leather lined interior and bamboo loadbay.
|Engine||V8, 5461cc, twin-turbo|
|Max power||537bhp @ 5500rpm|
|Max torque||560lb ft @ 2000-5000rpm|
|0-60||5.4sec (claimed 0-62)|
|Top speed||130mph (limited)|