The Mercedes-Benz G-Class has to be one of the most remarkable vehicles of all time, not because of the revolutionary technology it represents (although there is a bit of it) or any stylistic homerun that tried to be copied since. (also questionable, but bear with me) but because of what he did not do: and that has changed a lot since he started serving as part of the Shah of Iran’s personal armada in 1979, that infamous year in Iranian history.
So Mercedes – where the Shah was a major shareholder – went ahead and spawned the Geländewagen, which translates to ‘terrain vehicle’, although the former looks a lot cooler. They It has sort of been done since (it’s the oldest Mercedes model after the Unimog truck), to the point that the Canadian military itself continues to use the military version in its fleet to this day. Just like a handful of other countries including Greece, Norway, Belgium, Australia and of course Germany.
The AMG G 63 you see here, of course, is about as far removed from the military version as it gets when it comes to the G-Class. The huge 22-inch wheels (which don’t seem as big as the numbers on the suggest thanks to the great ride height and the gap between the tire and the mudguard) wrapped in Pirelli Scorpion Zero rubber, bright red brake calipers with “AMG” plastered on them, two side tailpipes of the two sides, dark almost limo-tinted side windows and silver bash guards underneath – all scream “civilian specification.” Except the painting. The ‘deep green’ ‘seen here does a pretty good job of showcasing the military origins of the G-Class’; on top of that, he looks damn good and has turned heads everywhere I’ve been. Indeed, if The Hulk was a car, it probably would be this one.
Inside it’s more or less the same, but before you get in you need to of course unlock it and the sound those locks make when you fold the keychain is unlike anything you’ve got. already seen from a car – normally we’re talking about the shifting action of a car sounding like a gun bolt; with the G-Class, it is the locks that recall this noise and it is strong. The lights will flash when you fold the lock, but it is not necessary; you can hear those damn locks going on a block away. Just be sure to push these doors firmly when closing to make sure those heavy locks hit their latches in the first place.
Open the same worker as Jeep Wrangler-esque doors and you’re greeted with patented Mercedes luxury but with a bit of a twist. You see, the Black Fiddleback open pore leather from my tester (yes, I don’t know either) is part of the “G manufaktur”. line that offers a number of interior finishes specific to the G-Class. The exterior paint, in this case, is also part of this line. Indeed, the black brown leather looks fantastic and complements the exterior paint perfectly.
Otherwise, it’s normal modern Benz business here; Fully digital editable gauge cluster and infotainment display, vent medallions, analog clock at the center of everything, steering wheel with more buttons than the Texas Instruments you had in high school, and centralized touchpad controller. Everything is very chic, very modern and the way you can access the gauge cluster menus with a numeric keypad on the left wheel spoke and the infotainment screen (including Apple CarPlay) with a corresponding button on the straight spoke is a good way to do things, once you get used to it.
There are, however, some things that are a bit harder to get used to.
It should come as no surprise that the ceiling height is ample – just look at the height of this roof! – but the legroom in the front and rear isn’t really enough for such a big vehicle because you sit so straight and are surrounded by vertical panels everywhere. I never quite freed my right knee from having to be pressed firmly against the lower dash. The placement of the interior door handle has never been natural either; it is too far back on the door panel and too close to the leg, forcing users to contort their wrists in a somewhat uncomfortable manner to release it.
The same goes for the rear cargo space, as this is another example of wasted space due to the need to store all that undercarriage as high as possible to get the necessary ground clearance. for what is a suitable all-terrain vehicle. The rear cargo space also collides with a raised leading edge, so there’s no flat cargo floor if you drop the seats. It has a barn door style tailgate, however, and unlike the Land Rover Defender, it swings the right way for typical North American curbside parking; left towards the road as opposed to right against the sidewalk.
What this upright seating position and cockpit offer, however, is a wonderful view and thanks to the square corners, getting around town in the G 63 – where most G63s will spend most of their time – is surprisingly easy considering the volume of the packaging. The surprisingly short wheelbase also helps; At 2,890mm, the G 63’s wheelbase is 245mm shorter than its sibling GLS 63. So that means this big SUV isn’t even the biggest in its own lineup.
It really is the beefiest, however. It starts with the engine – a four-liter twin-turbo (or “twin-turbo,” to use Mercedes parlance) good for 577 horsepower and 627 pound-feet of torque. Yes, it’s less horsepower than this GLS 63 but equal torque and it’s lighter. So it should come as no surprise that the G 63 will carry you-know-what on the highway when you set foot.
The image in your mind as you do it – that tall, somewhat gangly military truck in civilian clothes bouncing on the freeway, passing all traffic as its traffic stopped – will make you smile every time. Just like noise – these pipes are loud and can be made louder by pressing a button or selecting one of the more aggressive riding modes. At this point, that same knob can be used to soften the exhaust note, but won’t change the throttle, suspension, and transmission settings the drive modes play with.
While since The Hulk has made a name for itself in the comics and the image depicted earlier is somewhat comedic, the G 63 is no joke. Especially when it comes to its all-terrain chops, which are on top with the Defenders, 4Runners and Wranglers (and Broncos) of the world. There are three separate locking differentials – remember that innovation we alluded to earlier? Well, the G-Class is one of the only vehicles with this feature – and 217mm of ground clearance so it can climb and go through anything.
I had the opportunity to really put the G 63 and its less endowed brother G 550 on narrow off-road tracks normally reserved for ATVs and with its short wheelbase, super short front and rear overhangs and its great view, it was a remarkable joy to drive under these circumstances. Sure; we had to play with the differentials – they’re activated by three individual buttons right there on the dash – in order to create sharper bobby pins, but once down there was no way to stop the G 63.
What’s really remarkable, however, is actually how it performs on the beaten track, as opposed to off it. Indeed, you knew it would be good off-road, but it takes corners with surprisingly minimal body tilt for such a large vehicle. It’s the adjustable shocks and strut tower brace at work, and I never really got past the feeling that this was a properly non-Jeep jeepish that performed much better on the road than it did. ‘she should. Maybe the bad guy in Bourne’s supremacy was on to something when he decided to chase Jason Bourne in a G…
It’s the G-Class in a nutshell, really. It’s a multi-colored icon – military icon, rap icon, pop culture icon – and, soon, maybe an EV off-road icon because an electric battery-powered version of EQ wouldn’t be that far away.
He’s got presence, he’ll put a smile on your face (and, if my experience is telling, many passers-by as well), and he’ll tackle almost anything you throw at him. Good enough for a vehicle that started life as a humble civil servant over four decades ago.
The vehicle was provided to the writer by the automaker. Content and vehicle ratings were not subject to approval.