Mercedes-AMG G63 (2012-2018) review - Ride and handling

Modern AMG power and an archaic chassis. What could possibly go wrong?

Evo rating
Price
from £131,675
  • Occasionally hilarious handling characteristics
  • Often terrifying handling characteristics

Ride and handling

You wouldn’t expect excellent on-road abilities from a big and agricultural looking vehicle such as the G63. And you’d be right, as the Merc behaves just how you’d expect it to.

The steering is as industrial as the G63 looks, it isn’t as heavy as an unassisted rack, but the Mercedes ethos of extreme ease and comfort hasn’t infected the G63’s steering. You need to be very determined with every input, especially as there’s a lack of natural self-centering so nothing happens without some considerable involvement.

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The G63’s brakes mercifully are effective and can cope with a hammering because they get worked very hard. The brisk acceleration needs reigning in whenever a corner approaches, as you simply can’t carry much speed round a corner.

Once you’ve scrubbed off enough speed, then recalculated and decided you need to be going even slower, you can start to add some lock. Initially nothing really happens, then the body rolls over and the front wheels then begin to guide the Mercedes round the corner. More often than not you’ll need to add more lock, because the slow steering tricks you into thinking you’ve added enough when you haven’t. Turn the wheel by a degree too much though, the front tyres will give up and the traction control will cut in and stall your progress significantly.

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The traction control will also cut in if you’re too eager with the throttle, as the front tyres simply can’t cope with all of the V8’s torque while also steering. You can turn the traction control off, and attempt to navigate a corner without any interference from the systems, but as soon as the car detects any loss of grip it turns the system back on meaning the car’s computers are constantly metering the G63’s power.

The lack of traction is quite remarkable, because the 275 section tyres are not just wide, but they really feel it too. The Dunlops do give the Merc a robust, all-conquering feeling as you romp down a country road, but aren’t up to the task of actually maintaining grip.

The huge amount of roll is what causes the G63’s biggest traction issues, though; with so much of the weight leant over the outside wheels, the inside ones are being pulled away from the tarmac.

Once you’ve got the G straight, and can start to apply some meaningful throttle, the steering is pulled and tugged around in your hands as the wide tyres hunt out every road imperfection there is.

The G63 feels cumbersome and messy when driven quickly, and it seems crazy that Mercedes has given it so much power when it can’t cope with it – the intrusive traction control is evidence of that.

However. As laughable, scary and as plain bad as the G63 is at dealing with corners, there is still something strangely appealing about the boxy Merc. It is the antidote to highly polished, eerily perfect, ineffably quick modern performance cars. By almost any measure the G63 is bad, but those faults give it a unique character that is shamefully difficult to dislike.

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