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Living with a Mercedes-AMG G63: part 1

Has Merc’s military hero lost its personality now it’s gone tech? We’re going to find out

Last year, when Merc threw the covers off its new G-Class (or G-Wagen as most still like to call it), our inner eight-year-olds exhaled with relief. Unlike every other carmaker that’s decided to fire its design language into the 22nd century, Merc went for the plucky decision to make it look pretty much exactly the same as the old one – just a little softer, like it’d been left in the wind and eroded by the hands of time. But don’t judge a car by its new headlights. The new one is the most significant overhaul the boxy icon has had in over three decades.

Only five parts have been carried over from the old one. They’re not significant, either. They’re the spare wheel cover, headlight washer nozzles, sun visors, push buttons on the door handles and the tow bar.

The new G hasn’t forgotten its roots, mind. It still uses a traditional ladder-frame chassis, three diff locks and low-range gear reduction. The ground clearance is better than before, improving the already formidable wading depth and approach/departure angles. Only now, should you prod the right mode selecting buttons, there’s a bit of tech to help soak up tough terrain and simplify any sticky situations without the use of sand paddles and swear words.

There’s been a complete makeover inside, bringing it bang up to date with the rest of Merc’s range. More than that, the G is up to 170kg lighter than before, but a bit bigger – 53mm longer and 121mm wider – which has helped interior space (always a bugbear in the inverse-Tardis old car) but it’s still massive to manoeuvre around town. Being over two metres wide, two metres tall and having the turning circle of a medium-sized warship, it just fits into underground car parks. And just fits through London’s crippling width restrictors. So, around the urban sprawl you live in squeaky-bum time. But there’s an inherent cache to the G-Wagen in the city that allows it to cut through society like that other well-loved agri-box, the Land Rover Defender.

Currently, we only get the 577bhp G63 in the UK (the £92,070 G350d is coming but no G500 for us), so that’s what we’ve got. And doesn’t it look purposeful? Everybody from kids to Karadashians love its imposing stance. And, being the 63, there’s a brutal burble from the side pipes. Fitted with the £2,700 Night Pack, aka the make everything that’s shiny black and add a set of 21” AMG alloy wheels pack, the toned down details contrast against the dark Selenite grey paint wonderfully. It looks the nuts. Really, there ain’t nothin’ like a G thang. Inside, we’ve got brown leather and walnut wood interior (a no cost option) and the only other option we have is the AMG Driver’s Pack that unlocks the G’s velocity belt to unleash a 149mph top speed. Numbers a percentile of owners will never hit but we’re determined to over the next couple of months. Y’know, for consumer testing purposes.

With the G’s tech overhaul, this one should be a doddle to live with compared to the last generation. Should be. Come back to us every month and we’ll let you know. And, don’t worry, we’re going to test it in every environment we can. So there’s only one thing for it, let’s off-road!

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