by Gerhard Horn
No other car in history has gone through as many rebirths as the Mercedes G-Class. It started life as a military vehicle, eventually ending up as a civilian offering. Hardcore off-roaders noticed how capable it was, so it became an off-road icon. Richer off-roaders then asked for more power, so Benz shoehorned a V8 in there. For some unknown reason, this attracted the attention of attention-seeking celebrities who were famous just for being famous. Once the first one was wrapped in pink (circa 2003), it was all over. However, after being used up and discarded by Tinseltown, it has become a four-wheeled symbol of everything wrong in the world. Too much power, excessive consumption, and a boisterous soundtrack, thanks to a twin-turbo 4.0-liter V8. It's the most politically incorrect car on sale in the USA - the bad boy of the automotive world. But then, who doesn't like a bad boy? While some may settle for a Land Rover Defender V8, the Mercedes-AMG G63 brings the glitz that competitors can't provide.
The latest generation of the G63 is still relatively young, which means the 2021 MY enhancements aren't significant. There's a new AMG Night Package for added aggressiveness and a new spare tire cover in Night Black Magno. A wireless charging pad is also now standard. As far as the average customer is concerned, the most significant change is an even broader range of G manufaktur customization options.
See trim levels and configurations:
|AMG G63 4MATIC||
4.0L Twin-Turbo V8 Gas
The G-Class can trace its roots back to 1972 and Mercedes has kept the design more or less the same throughout the years. As a result, it's one of the more successful modernized retro cars in history. The overall shape is still wonderfully square, with no concessions made for a better drag coefficient. It's a twin-turbocharged brick, with all the subtlety and grace of a phallic bazooka. It rolls on a set of 20-inch alloys, which can, of course, be upgraded to even larger rims. Some modern additions to this old-school box include LED headlights with high-beam assist, a massive grille and lower air intakes, and a power glass sunroof.
The boxy exterior may seem familiar, but the body panels are all-new compared to the previous-generation, a somewhat cramped car. The total length is 191.9 inches, including the trunk-mounted spare tire carrier. It's shorter than both the Bentley Bentayga (202.4 inches) and the Lamborghini Urus at 201.3 inches. The 113.8-inch wheelbase is the most crucial figure, dimension-wise. The previous car had a 112.8-inch wheelbase, resulting in cramped rear seats. The additional inch has been used to increase the practicality in a big way. The AMG G63 SUV stands 77.4 inches tall and 86.1 inches wide, including the side mirrors, and weighs in at a hefty 5,842 pounds. Colin Chapman is spinning so hard in his grave, you could use him to supercharge a Tesla.
The G63 is available in a wide range of colors, none of them subtle. The standard palette consists of 23 paints: 14 are no-cost options, while seven of the designo colors cost an additional $2,300. The remaining two are designo matte and retail for $3,950. As if that's not enough, there are an additional 14 colors on the G Manufaktur color palette. These are as striking as they are expensive, going for $6,500 a pop.
The previous-generation G63 was a fast car. It was almost comical the way it could sprint to 60 mph in just over five seconds. The current-generation G63 is not comical at all. It's a seriously fast machine that posts acceleration figures we associated with supercars ten years ago. Mercedes-AMG claims it will do the 0-60 mph run in just 4.5 seconds, but we know for a fact that it's faster than that.
With 577 horsepower and a monumental 627 lb-ft of torque from the engine, the G63 always feels fast. You have to concentrate extremely hard to notice the turbo lag. And the G63 wants to be driven fast. The first quarter of the throttle is reserved for lazy, linear power delivery. The last three quarters unleash a barking beast that forces you deep into the sumptuous leather seats. Overtaking power is astonishing and quite scary to those around you. The dual side exhausts are mounted on both sides of the vehicle, so if you overtake a slow, nervous driver, they get the full, in-your-face Gatling gun soundtrack. We're not even joking. The G63 is so loud that it makes people nervous. On more than one occasion, we could see someone diving to the ground while the G was gearing down. It's exceptionally antisocial.
One of the best V8s in modern history comes equipped as standard - a compact, hand-built 4.0-liter bi-turbo V8. Thanks to its hot-V configuration, the turbochargers are nestled neatly within the V. Production figures peak at a satisfying 577 hp and 627 lb-ft of torque. This rude amount of power is sent to a permanent four-wheel-drive system via a nine-speed AMG Speedshift transmission. The top speed is limited to 137 mph, or 149 mph when the AMG Driver's Package is equipped. This is probably for the best, as there aren't enough brakes in the world to slow this domesticated tank down from 180 mph.
While the power is impressive, the torque is the real hero. All of it is available from 2,500 rpm, and the gearbox does a splendid job of ensuring that it's always on hand when the G63 is on the move. The higher gears are reserved for silent cruising on the freeway. As much as we may love that glorious V8 soundtrack, it will drive you mad after an hour or so.
The current G63 weighs close to 6,000 lbs and was designed using a ruler. It was never going to cut up the canyons like a supercar, but it's a revelation compared to the old model. The previous model still had a solid axle at the front and a rudimentary stability control system. It would understeer like a drunken rhinoceros, and you could never put your elbow out the window through a corner because, if you did, you'd end up with the mother of all roasties. That's how much it leaned through the corners. The stability control system essentially just cut the power. If the steering was turned more than 35 degrees, it simply wouldn't give you access to all the power, even with the nannies turned off.
The current model has an independent suspension all-around. It still rolls and understeers, but you can now at least lower the window and put your elbow out. The steering is much better and less tractor-like. It feels like it is connected to the front wheels, and it weighs up nicely as the speed increases. Stability is good at freeway speeds, but the brick-like exterior creates so much wind noise that even a well-crafted Mercedes interior can't keep it out.
Over the years, we've listened to many people boast about how their XYZ is better off-road than the "soft" G63. "It has side exhausts," they say. "Too fancy to do any real off-roading," they add. Sorry, but you're wrong. Yes, the G63 has a few things counting against it, like the road-biased tires and the side-mounted exhausts, but the sheer power can overcome almost every obstacle. This car has locking differentials in the front, middle and rear, remember. If you are keen to explore and go off-road with the new G63, invest in an additional set of alloys with some all-terrain tires. Keep them in the garage and slap them on when needed.
The G63 destroys gas. The fuel consumption is so bad you'd think the car has a personal vendetta against premium unleaded. Suffice to say that if you consider yourself an environmental activist in any way, avert your eyes now. The EPA-estimates for the G63 are 13/16/14 mpg for city/highway/combined. Show any kind of enthusiasm behind the wheel, and those gas mileage figures will drop to single digits. On the plus side, Mercedes-AMG equipped the G63 with a huge 26.4-gallon tank so you could get a reasonable 370 miles between refills.
While the exterior styling has been largely similar since the very first model, the interior of the AMG G63 is modern Mercedes-Benz. It's an interior befitting of a car that costs more than $150,000. It's not just the quality materials or the craftsmanship. There's so much attention to detail. The buttons for operating the three differential locks are exactly where they've always been. The beautifully crafted grab handle in front of the passenger seat is another homage to previous models.
The turbine-style air vents are stunning, as is the massive digital cluster/infotainment screen. It may look like a box on the outside, but on the inside, it's as modern as any other high-end Mercedes-Benz.
The boxy exterior translates to a big interior, with more than enough room for five adults. The headroom in the front is 41.9 inches, and rear passengers get 40.5 inches. The legroom is 38.7 inches in the front and 39.5 inches in the rear. The best thing about the current G-Class is that you no longer feel like you're sitting on top of it. The current car seats are mounted lower down, and it feels like you're sitting in the vehicle.
The interior proves that the G63 is, first and foremost, a luxury vehicle. Sitting in the upper echelons of Mercedes's line-up, it has an interior that matches the exorbitant price tag.
Seats are adorned with leather as standard, with a wide selection of available colors. The no-cost options are elegant, including Macchiato Beige/Black, Tartufo/Black, Classic Red/Black, and just plain old black. To gain access to Nappa leather, an upgrade to the Exclusive Interior Package Plus is required at an additional $7,200.
The G Manufaktur interior options are spectacular and are a no-cost option if you add the $3,100 G Manufaktur Interior Package and the G Manufaktur Interior Package Plus ($8,050).
The interior trim options include more traditional wood inserts like Natural Grain Walnut Wood, Brown Ash Wood, and Light Brown Sen Wood. The more modern options include Metal Weave, Piano Black Lacquer, and AMG Carbon Fiber.
The G-Class has a trunk-mounted full-size spare tire. It would have been fine if there was some power-assistance, but alas. If you have a G63, there's a good chance you'll have access to a posse with roid rage or some peasants to do your bidding. Once they've opened the side-hinged gate, you'll have access to the 38.1 cubic feet of cargo space. You can easily load three large suitcases and some smaller bags in there. The G's rear seats can be folded down in a 60/40 split to create 68.6 cubic feet of cargo capacity.
Interior storage is good, thanks to an average-sized glovebox, door pockets, and an armrest with storage compartments between the driver and front passenger.
The list of standard features on the 2021 Mercedes-AMG G63 SUV is extensive. You get high-quality leather upholstery, power-adjustable heated front seats, and memory functions. There's also tri-zone climate control, a power-adjustable steering column, rear privacy glass, heated rear seats, auto-dimming rearview and side mirrors, and a 64-color ambient LED lighting system. You get driver assistance features like blind-spot monitoring, active cruise control, lane-keep assist, and rear cross-traffic alert on the safety side.
When you own a G63, you'll be moving faster than 90% of the traffic out there. Therefore, it must come with a banging sound system, so you can use angry hip-hop or punk music to let losers (sorry, other drivers) know that you're coming through. We're happy to announce that a 15-speaker Burmester surround sound system is standard. This means you can blare Ludacris on repeat. He has a very famous track urging people to kindly move over, though, as you can imagine, not as eloquently phrased.
The G63 has two 12.3-inch high-resolution displays, one in front of the driver that doubles as an instrument cluster, while a second unit is centrally placed and runs Merc's COMAND system. Unfortunately, it's not a touchscreen interface, which means you have to interact with it via a touchpad controller or touch buttons on the steering wheel. What makes it even more annoying is that far lesser Mercedes models are equipped with the newer MBUX interface, which is much easier to use. The system in the G63 does, however, come with integrated navigation, Bluetooth, Apple CarPlay and Android Auto, and live traffic information for three years.
The most recent recall in February 2021 was for inaccurate vehicle location services. It was also recalled in 2020 for an incorrect child safety lock label and a leaking oil line to the turbocharger. The G63 was also recalled earlier in 2020, but for a more severe issue. There was a possible software malfunction that could have caused the ABS and stability control systems to fail.
The Mercedes-AMG G63 is covered by a four-year/50,000-mile basic warranty, including drivetrain cover.
When it comes to costly models, the NHTSA and IIHS tend to crash the standard vehicle that the go-faster model is based on. The entry-level G-Class retails for $130,900 in the US, so yeah. It was never going to happen - there's no safety rating or review for the Mercedes-AMG G63 SUV. Mercedes does offer the G63 with all the necessary active and passive safety features, though, and the new model has the benefit of a fully independent suspension. The G63 lets you know way in advance when you're pushing too hard, so you'd have to be a proper dumbass to roll it. Look, it's a 6,000 lbs block of a car, so there's a chance you could be involved in an accident and not even know about it. The flipside of that argument is that size and weight aren't everything. The NHTSA and IIHS have busted this myth many times over with other large SUVs, which haven't fared as well as their smaller counterparts in review.
We're happy to report that the previous model's rudimentary stability control system has been dumped in favor of a more advanced stability system. The G63 also has ABS brakes, LED headlights, and ten airbags. The driver assistance features include adaptive cruise control, speed limit assist, and active lane keep assist. It also has active parking assist with a surround-view monitor and active rear cross-traffic assist.
The suspension tuning is worth mentioning here as well. It's fairly evident that the G63 was set up to understeer as a warning. The outside front wheel is the first to let go. The result is nasty but safe and manageable understeer.
Yes and no. Some believe the 2021 AMG G63 is a relic of the past, adorned with a modern suspension, cutting-edge safety, and a luxurious interior. It's a symbol of everything wrong with the world that should be taken out back and shot in the face. Long live the electric SUV!
Still, we like it, because of the feel-good factor. Yes, we know it doesn't make any sense and that the impressive off-road credentials will never be used, but we just don't care. The same is true for every supercar out there. Why buy a supercar when the limit is 70 mph?
Not everything has to be logical. It makes zero sense to love an overpowered box this much, but we do. We can say many bad things about this car, but the one thing you can't call it is boring. Every trip in the G63 will be a grin-inducing experience. It's an unashamed middle finger to the incoming electric status quo, and we can't help but be charmed by its bravado.
It's also worth keeping in mind that this is most likely the last time we'll see a G-Class like this. Emissions regulations and deadlines for moving over to EV power will eventually lead to its extinction.
The Mercedes-AMG G63 SUV has a starting price of $156,450 MSRP, excluding the $995 destination fee. Yes, it's a lot of money, but a Lamborghini Urus costs more than $200,000. The latter may be a lot faster, but the G63 provides that same feel-good sensation. Still, the G63 is a high-end Mercedes, which means customers will likely add several additional options.
The G63 is a standalone model, available in only one trim. The 4.0-liter twin-turbo V8 is the dominating force in this car, responsible for 99% of its charm. It produces 577 hp and 627 lb-ft of torque, which will get this heavy SUV to 60 mph in a claimed 4.5 seconds. This power is sent to all four wheels via a nine-speed automatic transmission. Exterior-wise it comes with 20-inch alloys, LED headlights, and a trunk-mounted spare tire. On the inside, specs include a 64-color ambient lighting system, tri-zone climate control, power-adjustable front seats, heated front and rear seats, and a dual 12.3-inch infotainment system/digital instrument cluster. The infotainment system is Apple CarPlay and Android Auto compatible and comes standard with a 15-speaker Burmester sound system.
There are numerous packages available for the G63. The newest option is the AMG Night Package ($1,950), which adds Obsidian Black exterior accents, an AMG gloss black brush guard, a black underguard, and a spare tire carrier in Obsidian Black. On the inside, you can add the $2,220 Seat Comfort Package that adds massaging front seats with rapid heating and ventilation. You can also go the whole nine yards and order the G Manufaktur Interior Package Plus for $8,050. This package offers the most superior Nappa leather seats, massaging, ventilation, and rapid heating.
The only powertrain-related option is the AMG Trail Package, aimed at improving the G63's off-road prowess. It retails for $3,050 and includes an off-road setting for the suspension, black underbody protection, rear mud flaps, all-season floor mats, and 20-inch five-spoke black alloy wheels.
There's only one model available, so you have to rely on the configurator to customize the car. We played around on it for a bit and added a color from the G Manufaktur palette, a nice set of 22-inch alloys, an AMG Night Package, red Nappa quilted leather seats, and the AMG Trail Package because we would off-road this thing. The total was $180,250, which isn't bad for an uber handmade SUV.
There isn't a massive price difference between the entry-level model (if you can even call it that) Bentayga and the AMG G63. It's also powered by a twin-turbo V8, producing 542 hp and 568 lb-ft of torque, sent to all four wheels via an eight-speed automatic transmission.
The Bentayga's exterior is much sleeker but far from pretty. Interior-wise, it is a cut above the G63. There's no noise intrusion at all, which makes it the most comfortable SUV this side of a Rolls Royce Cullinan.
The Bentley is also better to drive, offering a more secure, planted feel. It comes with even more customization options, but the best feature of all is the badge that comes with it. Mercedes-Benz is a prestigious premium brand, but Bentley is in a whole other league. The comfort, speed, premium interior, and badge make it an easy choice. We'd have the Bentley.
We were concerned when Lambo announced its intention to build an SUV based on a shared platform. Shock. Horror. Part of Lamborghini's charm is how ridiculous they all are. The Aventador has the kind of supercar looks that belong on a poster. Who cares if it's wider than a bus? What business does the Italian automaker have building a practical car?
But then you drive the Urus, and you realize that it's a proper Lambo. An SUV has no business going this fast. Its twin-turbo V8 packs a massive 641 hp and 627 lb-ft punch, which results in an alarming turn of speed. It's an insane yet lovable machine that has all of the madness you'd expect from a Lambo but wrapped in a large, four-door package.
There are still some Lamborghini quirks, however. You can't see out the back, the interior is cramped, and the front air intakes are a bit much. Still, given a choice between the two, we'd take the Lambo any day of the week.
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