What is it?
As if the Mercedes-Benz G63 AMG wasn’t mad enough already, it can now be had in colours bright enough to warrant the use of industrial grade sunglasses just to be able to see it. Meet the G63 AMG ‘Crazy Colour’ edition (Merc’s words, not ours!) that’s available in Solar Beam (think Ferrari yellow), Sunset Beam (think Lamborghini orange) and Alien Green (think Kawasaki green) paint options. Yes, the colours are wild and over the top but they do work rather well with the eccentricity that is the G63 AMG. Flamboyant body paint aside, the Crazy Colour G63s are also different from the standard G63s in their use of matte black wheels and a black finish to their bumpers, grilles, headlight shrouds, wheel arches and roofs. The classic, block-like shape from the 1970s with its cliff-faced sides carries on unchanged, though. Not that you’ll hear anyone complain.
The G63’s cabin, however, is more in line with the Mercs of today in layout and quality. While it’s true the shallow dash does give this up as a car from another era, the whole treatment is still very modern Mercedes. What aids the familiarity are elements like the busy-looking centre console and the floating tablet-like screen for the infotainment system. The system is up to date and allows you to use a paired phone’s 3G network to browse web pages and stream internet radio. There’s satellite navigation too. Crazy Colour edition cars also get all-black cabins with sporty carbonfibre trim and rich diamond pattern stitching on the seats. And to keep with the look, there’s exterior colour coordinated stitching on the seats, dash and grab rails. Detailing is quite special, actually.
Owing to the G63’s ladder frame chassis, the cabin sits quite high so you have to use the footboard to clamber in. The benefit is that you get a commanding view out, helped in no small measure by the large windows and slim pillars. Front seat comfort is good and can be fine-tuned with options to adjust lumbar support. The rear bench isn’t quite as nice – the backrest is upright and legroom is surprisingly average only.
What is it like to drive?
For something as big as a one bedroom flat and about as aerodynamic and heavy as a bank vault, the G63 AMG is fast. Very fast. 0-100kph comes up in a claimed 5.4 seconds and top speed is limited to 210kph. The crazy performance is possible thanks to that monster of an engine under the bonnet. It’s a 5.5-litre, twin-turbo petrol V8 unit that makes 536bhp at 5500rpm and a mad 77.5kgm between 2000-5000rpm. The engine comes linked to a seven-speed automatic gearbox with permanent four-wheel drive there to transfer all the power to the four wheels; power that is literally available on call, at all throttle openings and across the rev range (that culminates at about 6200rpm). It actually verges on the funny what the AMG engine and modern gearbox can make this ‘distinguished’ (read: old) SUV do.
You’ll also break into a laugh each time you hear the G63’s exhaust note. The quad exhausts (two each ahead of the rear wheels) are always up to some mischief. They let out a deep burble at low speeds, a louder growl in the mid range and a full-blown African lion roar at the top-end. The G63 is the best-sounding of the turbo AMGs and one best heard in a tunnel.
But as fast as the G63 is in a straightline and as dramatic it sounds, it’s not the AMG you’d want to show up in at a track day. The G63 just doesn’t like to corner. There’s a lot of slack and general vagueness to the steering and body movements around the bends are exaggerated too. Truth is, you wouldn’t want to push the G63 on anything tighter than long sweeping bends. High speed ride is also quite lumpy. Ride comfort is better and more than acceptable at low speeds but the suspension, in general, feels rudimentary in the way it tackles bumps.
Thing is, the G63 is a utility vehicle at its very core, one that’s made to take you where few others can hope to. This comes through as soon as you venture off-road. The G63 feels at home in the rough despite running on road-biased tyres. There’s enough grunt to power out of most situations but it always helps to have 220mm of ground clearance, 27 degree approach and departure angles, 24 degree breakover angle and the ability to wade through 600mm of water on your side. Should things get really tricky, you can switch the G63 into low range and can further individually lock the centre, rear and front diffs. Phew!
Should I buy one?
Look at the G63 AMG objectively and you’ll probably see it as a has-been that’s just trying to fit in the modern world. Performance is epic but on ride, dynamics and overall finesse, the G63 can’t match up to today’s SUV standards. In fact, Merc’s own monocoque-bodied ML63 AMG and GL63 AMG are far more complete as performance SUVs go.
Experience one though and in all likelihood, you too will be sold on the G63 AMG, flaws be damned. There’s just something inherently desirable about an old-school, rugged SUV with such an excess of power. True, the G63 doesn’t make for the most rational of purchases but then again, performance cars in India rarely ever do. Ahem, just the small matter of price. The G63 AMG Crazy Colour edition costs an equally crazy Rs 2.17 crores (ex-showroom, Delhi). You could save yourself some hard earned money if you opt for ‘standard’ white or black G63s that retail for a more digestible Rs 1.96 crore. Either way, you can be assured of owning an SUV like no other and one that’s unlikely to go out of fashion anytime soon.