TEST – Why we can’t hate the Mercedes-AMG G63

TEST – Why we can’t hate the Mercedes-AMG G63

In fact, we are even among the fans of this 4×4 distorted by decades of destruction. But why can this old roadster disguised as a luxury SUV have such an effect on us?

If the Mercedes G-Class had respected the rules of the mainstream car market, it would have disappeared by the end of the 1980s. It was born pure off-road in 1975 and was designed in part for military use (including France where its version was built by Peugeot. it will quickly become important within the Army), the very first “Geländewagen” shared more Mercedes features and amenities than the brand’s limousines and stars. Over the decades, however, the 4×4 officially named “Class G” in 1993 has gradually deviated from its original classification. It turns out that the strange body of the German franchisor is hitting a mark with an audience that Mercedes never imagined during its original design. Even more than professionals looking for a solid body to adapt to hostile terrain, it appeals to regular Range Rover customers. Since the beginning of the 90s, therefore, the Mercedes G-Class received offers and finished the interior of luxury with a price worthy of large sedans of the brand. Worse, the more elite, the more angry. Although a few other roadsters on the market have disappeared or given way to more modern models (Land Rover Defender, Jeep Wrangler), the G-Class remains faithful to its original chassis 47 years later! The surprising thing is that it has set its full world sales record in 2021. Although the market is now full of better SUVs, sports or comfortable. Is the world turning upside down?

Coping efforts

Indeed, the current G-Class benefits from extensive improvements compared to the model launched in 1975 before the trend of SUVs. It remains faithful to the chassis of the first version, a more rustic design than the monocoque design used in almost all current cars (including SUVs from Porsche, Lamborghini or Aston Martin). But since 2018, it has been using a modified version of this ladder chassis and benefiting from a more advanced suspension: no more rigid front axle, replaced by a double wishbone suspension that is better on the road. Even if Mercedes describes this current G-Class as a “new model generation”, it retains a rigid rear axle like a truck or almost. Its onboard technology has nothing to envy other new Mercedes launched in the same year, be it in terms of driving assistance, infotainment or connectivity (only no touchscreen for some unknown reason). The leather and other trims are as pleasing to the eye and to the touch as in other luxury models from Mercedes, with furniture in an upright style as in all versions of the G-Class. But the G-Class also carries real structural problems. ..

Why does this large box of medieval origin have such an effect on us?

Good to know: expect repeat purchases and sales.

It is possible to find out the resale or trade-in value of your car thanks to the automatic Turbo rating of your Mercedes G-Class, an alternative to the Argus rating.

Outdated ergonomics

Despite the size of the trunk and the cubic silhouette of the car, you have to deal with less practical ergonomics than in a modern SUV. Access to the board almost requires climbing because of the height of the seat and the verticality of the rear seats will often surprise you with Range Rovers and other large SUVs of today. For Mercedes, for example, the GLE does better, including once in motion. Compared to the previous version of the G-Class AMG that we tested a decade ago, however we see a significant improvement in terms of downforce and efficiency. No more random head, sometimes scary body movements or panic management of the transmission and driving aids. Instead of the previous G63’s 544-horsepower (5.5-liter V8), the current G63 uses the 4.0-liter V8 found under the hood of all the big AMGs in a 585-horsepower version. Despite the empty 2,560 kg of this huge cube (the best measurement of the GLE 63 S), this square dragster swallows 0 to 100 km / h in 4.5 seconds. A lot, even if the best athletes on the market do better.

TURBO 35 years – Mercedes G-Class 500 4×4², the craziest of them all (2016)

Note the three different locking latches on the center console for off-road driving. You won’t see that in a modern SUV…

The icing on the cake, it no longer activates the ESP immediately when you turn off the driving aids in the small steering column. While the old G63 kept us from accelerating with its erratic responses, this one even accepts the game on a country road. All things considered, of course: nothing to do with the incredible efficiency of the Porsche Cayenne Turbo. Here, there is no reinforced concrete work, torque vectoring or rear-wheel steering. But just being able to accelerate sensibly, brake hard and then accelerate fully with the steering wheel always pointed – without the transmission hesitating to deliver power – is already an impressive step forward when tasting the older versions. The nine-speed automatic gearbox provides adequate response and only the sound of the V8, strangely high and slightly artificial at high revs, makes us miss the original engine. Finally, in terms of consumption, the 15 liters per 100 kilometers claimed on the highway and small country roads indicate that it will be possible to go below 13 liters per 100 outside the city at leisurely speeds. Which could be worse given its special paper.

We challenge you to get more detailed than V8 sideburns. We hear him muttering all the time…

Despite its significant power development, the current Mercedes-AMG G63 will not be able to compete with the aggressiveness and impressive efficiency of the Porsche Cayenne Turbo, BMW X5 M or Mercedes GLE 63S. It also remains inferior to the latter in absolute terms due to its old chassis, its truck-like center of gravity and its truck-like aerodynamics (wind noise can be heard from 110 km/h). At €186,601 a piece (or €149,651 for the underpowered G500), it’s still expensive compared to the best and cheapest competitors (€156,950 for the 612-hp Mercedes-AMG GLE 63 S, €185,950 for the Porsche Cayenne Turbo-Hybrid 680 horse power without any penalty!). The venerable G boasts better off-road performance than modern SUVs thanks to this level chassis that cripples it on the road. Knowing that customers who are devoted followers of this type of exercise are probably counted on the fingers of one hand, what can justify the preference of G compared to these models, each better than the other?

How do we stop lying to each other?

From the moment I approached this green G63 (€2,300 optional tint) to the time I returned it, none of the many flaws could have extinguished the irrational and irresistible attraction I feel for this world’s most uniquely designed big box. Driving a Lamborghini Urus or an Aston Martin DBX 707 impresses you more with their versatility that can be limo-like. The G, on the other hand, still makes a terrible noise when you hit its narrow doors, and there are also complaints about the assembly quality of some panels inside near the center console. Even the sound of its V8, once exceptional in all conditions, is especially unpleasant when you push it hard. But nothing helps, the G-Class seems to me a thousand times more exciting than all these SUVs full of purposeful features. It’s exciting enough to dream of owning one in the garage of my dreams, long before the best sports SUVs on the market. Slow driving in the G-Class and the discreet sound of the V8 that one hears through the side exhausts, scattered in abundance in front of the windshield of this very upright glass with these indicators still sitting on the side, all this gives a desire to use. G63 as a luxury car for everyday life. It seems that delivery times are now approaching two years because there are so many customers. It must be 100% electric by 2025 but should keep its off-road chassis.