Looks can be deceptive, point in case is the Mercedes G55. It looks like any other durable, reliable and rugged off-roader with its boxy styling and body-on-frame construction. But don’t be fooled – this is anything but your run of the mill rugged off-roader. It offers a fantastic combination of desirable SUV qualities like high ground clearance, off-road ability, presence and a commanding driving position, and the performance of a sports coupé.
The G55 is powered by a 5.5-litre V8 motor. But AMG, which cannot be satisfied by just that, has supercharged it and the power output is a whopping 507bhp. To put things into perspective this 2.5-tonne mammoth can outrun a Porsche Boxster without any difficulty. Performance is mindblowing with 100kph mark coming up in a mere 6.23 seconds. Given the beans, the G55 AMG reaches its 210kph top speed with a ferocious pace. The five-speed gearbox is very responsive and quick too.
One of the best bits is the G55’s Exhaust system. It’s silent at idle, sounds like a V8 muscle car at part throttle and howls like a supercar as it nears its 6200rpm redline. This makes driving through tunnels or hillsides a thoroughly enjoyable experience. The exhaust sounds so good that it turns heads everytime you pass a busy junction.
The road handling is not something to write home about, you always feel its bulk and the unresponsive steering doesn’t inspire confidence either. However the G55 AMG shows good poise around corners, thanks to the stiff suspension. It may not handle like a Sportscar but in a straight line the car feels rock solid. The stiff suspension set-up also means the ride is on a firm side and thumps over sharp bumps, but it doesn’t get as uncomfortable as you would expect.
Ride at high speeds is pretty flat and the G55 feels at home on the highway. Where this car excels the most is off the road. The high ground clearance and small overhangs make it one of the most potent off-roaders around. You also get a full-fledged four-wheel-drive system with diff-locks, rigid front and rear axles, and low range gearbox in case the going gets tough.
You get loads of grip from the wide 275 section tyres and the G55’s earthmoving 71.38kgm of torque means off-road prowess is rapid too. The only downside is the low exhausts, which are bound to get damaged if you plan to do serious off-roading.
Interiors are typical Mercedes – high quality and rock solid. The seats too are comfortable and the high front seat gives you an unobstructed view of the surrounding. The rear seats too are supportive and at a good height but legroom is very limited. The dash design is simple and minimalistic and you get most of the features you get on any other Mercedes. You also get a reversing camera, which is important considering that the rear door-mounted tyre obstructs your view.
Good things don’t come cheap, and in the G55’s case this statement is more than true. The G-class is priced at a stratospheric Rs 1.24 crore (ex-showroom, Delhi). But as Mercedes is going to sell only a limited number of G55s in India, you get such exclusivity which even Rolls-Royce owners will crave for. If you’re looking for Sportscar performance with off-road credibility, then don’t look elsewhere.