The Mercedes G-Wagen can trace its history back to the early seventies when it was designed as a utilitarian off-roader. With various updates along the way, it rolled on until 2018, when the biggest change in its history took place – the all-new G-Class was born.
While the style of the new G is very similar to that of the original – a really clever update of an iconic look – it’s now part SUV, part luxury car and, in Mercedes-AMG G 63 guise, part sports car.
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As a bit of a G-Wagen fan, I couldn’t let the opportunity pass when the chance to run a G 63 came up. How would this giant, twin-turbo 4.0-litre SUV stack up as part of the Fowler fleet, dealing with family duties and daily commuting?
I had to wait a short while before I got my car because it was put to use moving the glitterati around during London Fashion Week – ideal work for such a head-turning vehicle that’s garnered something of a reputation as a favourite of the fashionable and famous.
I took delivery of my Rubellite Red G 63 at Mercedes’ flagship showroom at Brooklands, which sits alongside the Mercedes World experience centre at the famous old race track in Weybridge, Surrey.
This isn’t just a story of an SUV with 577bhp, 850Nm and rather delightful (and sometimes rather rude) side-exit exhausts that emit the most glorious deep roar when you floor the throttle. This is every inch the modern Mercedes, with the very latest tech on board that adds to the luxury feel that the G 63 has in abundance.
So I needed a thorough handover, which came courtesy of Joe Jeavons, who took me through the myriad menus in the G’s infotainment system and connected my smartphone to the Mercedes Me app – which is already proving useful and reliable.
With a list price of £143,305, you’d expect the G 63 to be well equipped, and it is – but that’s not always the case with such cars. The twin 12.3-inch screens with Apple CarPlay and Android Auto connectivity, the 15-speaker Burmester surround sound system, heated seats and steering wheel, a choice of 64 light colours to bathe the interior in, adaptive cruise control and parking assistance (that might come in handy) are all standard. Even the metallic paint finish is included – a rare thing indeed.
My car adds the £2,700 AMG Night Package, which gives the exterior a darker, meaner look, plus the £2,000 AMG Driver’s Pack, which ups the top speed to 149mph. Not that I plan to go anywhere near that.
In the first few weeks of G 63 ownership, there are a few things that stand out. Yes, it’s sensationally quick – the official 0-62mph time of 4.5 seconds doesn’t do justice to the sheer force of this 3.2-tonne, 4,613mm-long SUV at full throttle, or the surprise of others at the speed and the noise. It’s a truly exhilarating and intoxicating experience.
Yet it also does the luxury thing brilliantly. The interior is impeccably built and looks fantastic – it’s a work of art, especially at night when you can play with the colour schemes for hours on end.
It’s also doing everyday stuff well. It’s a gentle companion on my daily commute and the whole Fowler five have taken a few long journeys already with no complaints about space or ride comfort – the bouncy ride used to be a real bugbear of Gs of old.
For the fitter members of the family, climbing up into the cabin is no problem, but sadly (ahem) my 79-year-old mother-in-law struggles. And at 1,969mm high, the G 63 squeezes under the height restrictor in our office car park with just millimetres to spare – it’s best described as ‘van height’.
You have to get used to being looked at lots, too – this is a car with a reputation for being driven by the rich and famous. You soon become familiar with the disappointed expressions as people realise this one isn’t.
And as we expected, fuel economy isn’t great, but it’s not horrendous. My average of 18.3mpg is only around 10mpg behind a diesel Range Rover I ran some time ago. For me, though, for the rare combination of power and luxury, it’s a price worth paying.