The Mercedes-AMG G 63 review by Hormazd Sorabjee: The car that makes no sense
It’s old world and handles like a super tanker, but the Rs 2 crores+ car is ridiculously endearingUpdated: Jan 12, 2019 21:01 IST
Enjoyed the New Year break with the most pointless car I’ve driven. I have to say that I can’t think of a good reason why anyone would pay north of Rs 2.2 crore for a car that looks like a box, and drives like one too. And yet, I love it to bits. Meet the Mercedes -AMG G63, the maddest, hairiest and the most ludicrous car to wear the three-pointed star. With those massive 22-inch wheels, it pulverises potholes and with that 585hp engine it eats supercars for breakfast. But it’s not just these talents alone that make this monstrous SUV so endearing.
The AMG G63 is too raw for most tastes and lacks the finesse a typical Rs 2 crore plus car buyer expects
The AMG G63 is the extreme, high-performance iteration of Mercedes’ venerable G-Class, which has remained largely unchanged since it was first introduced in 1979 and that is the core of its appeal. The G-Class is Mercedes’ longest serving model and though well past its expiry date, there doesn’t seem to be an end in sight for it, thanks to a small but steady trickle of customers that line up for it. In fact, Mercedes has constantly reinvented the G-Class over the years and the culmination of all the honing and fettling is what I am now driving.
Skyscraper on wheels
The biggest challenge tinkering with an icon like the G-class is to keep improving it to the latest standards but without diluting the car’s old world character – the only genuine though irrational reason to buy it. That meant retaining the car’s boxy, upright shape, which quite honestly would appeal to very few. But it’s this very few (and very rich) tribe of connoisseurs that don’t want change, which Mercedes is pandering to. Which is why the company has resisted any temptation to contemporise the G-Class. So you still get doors with visible hinges, archaic press button door handles and the proportions of a skyscraper.
In fact, the AMG G63 is so tall that it’s quite a feat to haul yourself into the cabin but once you’re perched in the driver’s seat you get an incredibly commanding view of the road. And it’s this elevated seating position which gives you a sense of power and control that is an intrinsic part of the car’s charm. You look down on other cars, which fearfully move out of the way, and at traffic lights you draw eye level with light trucks. And when there’s any empty road in front, all you have to do is flex your right foot to leave everyone behind for dead.
Analogue in a digital world
The AMG G63 is a shockingly quick car to drive and its pace belies its 2560kg weight and supertanker dimensions. The trouble is that it handles like a supertanker too, proving to be a handful around corners rolling and bobbing around like a ship in a stormy sea. No doubt the suspension is tough and military grade so it can take an incredible amount of beating and you can go just about anywhere without fear of breaking anything, but the ride is pretty bumpy and on an uneven road, you get jostled around a fair bit.
The AMG G63 comes with adaptive air suspension but whatever mode you select: comfort, sport or sport+, the ride never feels settled. The seats too are not the most comfy and lesser Mercs have a plusher cabin but the good thing is that Mercedes has upgraded the interiors with modern day essentials like the twin digital screens you get in the latest Mercs.
The truth is that I love this car’s mechanical charm and its analogue feel, which is so refreshingly different in this digital world but by today’s standards, the AMG G63 is too raw for most tastes and lacks the finesse a typical Rs.2 crore plus car buyer demands and expects. The AMG G63 only makes sense if you want a car that makes no sense.
Hormazd Sorabjee is one of the most senior and much loved auto journalists in India, and is editor of Autocar India
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From HT Brunch, January 13, 2019
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First Published: Jan 12, 2019 19:48 IST