Ian Lamming finds himself up to the armpits in the latest Mercedes G-Class.
Ian Lamming finds himself up to the armpits in the latest Mercedes G-Class
Posted by Ian Lamming on Monday, 25 March 2019
IT’S one of life’s great pleasures, jumping in muddy puddles; just ask Pepper Pig and her family, or the toddlers in their wellies and waterproof onesies.
Well, I’ve just found the motoring equivalent – the Mercedes G Wagon. It’s the sort of vehicle in which you pray for bad weather, stair-rod rain and floods. To plough, or should that be wade, through the run-off is sheer delight, the bow wave soaking anything in the vicinity before crashing over the bonnet like sea-surf on the cliffs on a stormy day. Such fun
It all adds up to a feeling of invincibility, a you-can’t-touch-me attitude to life, which gives a level of self-confidence lacking in your average Joe, especially if you are little like me.
G Wagon is like having a 6ft 6in bouncer constantly at your shoulder giving the world the hard stare and keeping you safe from harm. I use the measurement advisedly as it mirrors the height of this behemoth when standing upon optional 22in wheels. Using underground car parks is a heart-stopping affair with a matter of centimetres clearance from the concrete roof to your sunroof. It’s hard to watch at first.
But that is telling too about the big G; at first its girth is intimidating but very soon its leviathan proportions are incredibly manageable thanks to squared-off extremities, large glazed areas, an imperious driving position and cameras and proximity detectors all round. Easy peasey. Just keep your eyes on your mirrors to see where you are placed on the road and don’t judge the width at the front by the prominent indicator pods on top of the wings – there’s a lot of car remaining to each side.
If G is for gargantuan, then AMG must be for amazingly, magnificently, gargantuan. Well, no, not really, it’s for Hans Werner Aufrecht (the A) and Erhard Melcher (the M), while Aufrecht’s birthplace of Großaspach supplied the G.
The moniker represents an obsession for peerless performance by the two ex-Mercedes mechanics and what a difference this makes to driving dynamics. Once you have stopped splashing around in puddles you may very well notice the thrum of the tumultuous twin turbo V8, whose symphony emerges from under the bonnet and four side-exiting exhaust pipes that peek from beneath the running boards. Sheer class, G-Class.
The halo day-running lights give the G’s historical lines a contemporary twist and the immense presence it has on the road, plus the cacophony of surround sound, has passers-by swivelling and double-taking in its company. Yes, it is the familiar G Wagon look but this is a new car.
Hand-built in Graz, Austria, a process that takes around 140 hours, it has an all-new body, chassis, suspension, steering, engine, gearbox and driver assistance systems. This transforms the G-Class’s comfort and driving characteristics while retaining its legendary off-road ability, which uses a low-range transfer box and three locking differentials.
New G-Class is 53 mm longer and 121 mm wider so driver and all passengers get 38mm more front leg and shoulder room, rear legroom increases by 150 mm; there is even more room for your elbows, up 68mm in the front and 56mm in the rear. You need never touch anyone again.
Contemporised too is the interior fit and fitting with its A/S Class technology projected onto long glass screens, tactile materials, lovely touchy feely controls, including a double stack mouse arrangement and hi-fi-feel round vents. It’s all so special and screams cool and expensive. It means G-Class stands out from the crowds with its outrageous look and performance and fabulous interior.
Whatever the shape, the G carries the AMG badge with pride. It is a big SUV but it absolutely flies. The twin turbo 4.0 V8 heaps on the coal at the rate of 585hp and 850Nm of torque. So 60mph arrives in less than 4.5 seconds, the bonnet rising on a tide of sheer strength. Top speed is governed to 149mph, up from the standard 137mph and one of the reasons the price rises from £143,305 to the as tested £155,895.
A short-shifting, nine-speed automatic gearbox and intelligent four wheel drive is tasked with getting all that power down and when it’s not needed the motor will drop from eight to four cylinders to try and eek out its combined fuel figure of 21.4mpg. I managed 16.8 with my boots on.
Toys worth a mention include a spectacular surround sound hi-fi by Burmester and airconditioned seats which not only support you around the bends, with bolsters inflating and deflating when it detects any yaw, but will also offer your back or shoulders a hot massage. Very popular with the Mrs that one.
I have to admit that G63 is not what I was expecting, it is so much better, because the cutting edge technology is hidden so beautifully under a retro skin. It is a triumph of old and new but is it worth the money? Oh, yes, if I could afford it I would certainly be splashing out.
Mercedes AMG G63
Engine: 4.0 V8 twin turbo petrol
Top speed: 149mph
Combined MPG: 21.4
Transmission: nine-speed auto
CO2 g/km: 299
Price: £155,895.00 including extras