First Drive: Mercedes-Benz G-Class / Mercedes g wagon
A piece of history that has evolved with time or at least, has attempted to. The Mercedes-Benz G 63 AMG is everything that a modern car is not; brazenly boxy, loud, jagged and as impractical as owning a full-sized fur coat for Mumbai winters. This one is called the ‘crazy colour’ and it is crazy alright, but that is not just because of the way it looks.
We will still start with the looks though. The car is so green that it would be love at first sight for the Hulk and then they even seem to be made for each other. The street presence is awe-inspiring. All eyes on the road are glued to the G-Wagen, firstly because of the way it looks and then to try and find out what exactly is it.
The rectangular front, simple round headlamps in square console, chrome crash guard and independent turn blinkers on the bonnet are all the things that we have seen on the older Indian cars, but these were on the G-Wagen when it went to production in 1979 and have continued in the same form even on the 2015 model.
The G 63 is very much an AMG, the quality and attention to detail is exceptional. Even the onlookers, the ones who have no clue about the existence of such a car, will realise they are looking at something very expensive.
Going out in the Mercedes-Benz G 63 AMG is like having a parade all for yourself. And then there is the performance, the sound and the overall experience. I am not a big fan of the SUVs, of their size or slightly-off handling dynamics and this one isn’t too different. I should then dislike the G-Wagen as well, but somehow it manages to put a smile on my face every time I drive it.
Like the exterior, even the basic interior hasn’t changed much since inception. But then, features are a vital ingredient of the premium cars and the G 63 has to have them. So they have been retro-fitted into the cabin.
The power window switches sit on top of the door sills, where there is more space than on the side. It has a sunroof, but not the regular glass one, the metal ceiling itself slides open to create a hatch. And even though it has the standard Mercedes multimedia system with COMAND on the six-inch thick dashboard, it looks like an aftermarket bolt-on. A few things are missing as well; there is no armrest for the rear passengers or the elaborate ambient lights that we are so used to in rest of the Mercedes cars.
Talking about the nice bits, there is enough carbon fibre on the dash and door trims to justify its AMG pedigree and the detailed instrument cluster that can be set to clock lap times, but my personal favourite are the seats. The black leather with green stitches look awesome and the substantial side bolsters offer a perfect snug fit like in the race cars.
How does it drive?
Crank the engine and the G 63 comes to life with a roar. The shorter side exhausts makes it really loud, and though the turbocharged V8 may not be as musical as the naturally aspirated ones, the rough throaty sound goes with the look.
Powering the G-Wagen is the modern 5.5-litre BiTurbo V8 engine pumping 544bhp and 760Nm of torque. That is plenty of power – good enough to take this 2.5 tonne SUV from standstill to 100kmph in 5.7 seconds. The timing does seem much for an AMG, but it is astonishing for an SUV this big and this old, the car keeps you pinned to the seat well past 100kmph mark and getting to 150kmph takes little over 10 seconds.
Driving around the corners is an altogether different experience. The suspension is relatively soft, the steering feels disconnected and with the tall and boxy design, going around the bends needs fighting with the laws of physics. In simple words it is the German counterpart of the American muscle cars.
The car is restricted to 210kmph for safety, but even that is a lot when you think about a 2.5 ton concrete block moving at that speeds. Fortunately, the sticky 265/50 R20 tyres do a decent job of bringing it to a halt. In our braking test, the G 63 AMG came to a halt from 80kmph in 2.26 seconds covering just 26 metres.
The G 63 AMG can go fast, but one needs to be extra careful, it is not so very forgiving, make a mistake and the SUV will make you pay for it.