The G 63 looks, well, mostly the same as the “lesser” G 550, except for a few very obvious things.
The Mercedes-Benz G-Class, also known as the Geländewagen, is one of the most familiar shapes in the automotive landscape. Mercedes developed and started selling it in 1979 as a military truck, with a traditional ladder frame and built to work. It evolved into a civilian version as well, and while it has come quite far since then, it hasn’t ventured far from its roots. 2019 saw a completely redesigned version which, naturally, still looks almost exactly the same as its predecessor. We sampled the G 550 (reviewed here) on its debut, but as it turns out, the one most Canadians want is this 2020 Mercedes-AMG G 63 4MATIC.
The G 63 looks, well, mostly the same as the “lesser” G 550, except for a few very obvious things. There are twin exhaust pipes on each side of the truck, just below the rear doors. While this is a very cool party trick as far as noise is concerned, it could also lead to rear passengers scalding their legs when entering or exiting the truck. Regardless, it’s the only SUV out there with side-exit pipes, and that’s just plain cool. Our Polar White tester looked sharp, but the Obsidian Black roof and lower body accents take away from the menacing proportions, so we’d suggest a single colour choice.
Under the (prominently visible from the driver’s seat) hood of the G 63 is a hand-built 4.0-liter twin-turbocharged V8 that is well-known across the Mercedes lineup. It has sodium filled valves, dynamic engine mounts and a closed-deck crankcase. Output here is 577 horsepower and 627 lb-ft. of torque that will literally make the planet spin the other way. Acceleration is simply staggering for a 5,800 pound SUV, as the G 63 sprints to 100km/h in four seconds flat. Yeah, this box seriously gets going.
The 4MATIC system on the G 63 has a 60:40 rear bias, and Mercedes says it still has the ability to “go anywhere” with its three lockable differentials. Three large buttons on the dashboard toggle these diffs, as well as a dedicated low range. Ride quality is still very truck-like, and nowhere near as supple as, say, the new Tahoe (reviewed here), but the AMG air suspension does help smooth things out. Once you get into the groove with the G-Wagen, it really does feel like the best SUV money can buy.
The most noticeable evolution to the G-Wagen for the latest generation is an interior that’s more than just livable. Previous models looked and felt quite military-grade, while the new G 63’s cabin is hardly discernible from anything else in the Mercedes-Benz lineup. The seats are definitely high and a mountain-climb for shorter drivers, but once inside, it’s a lovely place to spend time. The driving position is commanding, with a clear view all around the vehicle. The exterior turn signals are mounted on top of the hood, and give drivers an interesting feeling of authority even when changing directions. It’s really the little things that count here.
Rear seat legroom is a bit on the tighter side, more comparable to the GLC (reviewed here) than anything bigger, and surely not quite reflective of the G 63’s physical size. 1,076 liters of cargo will fit behind the rear seats, and thanks to the towering height of the truck, significant amounts of suitcases will fit. Of course, in proper G-Class tradition, the spare tire is mounted to the side-hinged rear door.
Inside, two 12.3-inch screens are adjacent to one another, and control the previous generation of Mercedes-Benz infotainment. There is no touchscreen, leaving all controls to a rotary dial and touchpad mounted above it. It’s confusing, but does support Apple CarPlay and Android Auto. An optional seating package ensured that our test vehicle had heated, cooled and massaging seats, and it’s worth a mention that Mercedes does some of the best massaging seats in the business. There’s something to be said about driving a G-Wagen down the highway with the Burmester stereo playing some classic 90s rap while getting your back coddled with the “Hot Relaxing Back Massage” setting.
The G 63 is still lacking in the full Intelligent Drive Package that many newer Mercedes-Benz models offer, but does include adaptive cruise control, lane keep assist, blind spot monitoring, and a forward collision system with automatic braking. The lane departure alert is a touch oversensitive, and also tends to apply the brakes rather heavily if it senses you going out of your lane. On multiple occasions, we would attempt to change into a newly-opened turning lane, with the signal on, and the G 63 would aggressively brake and try to force-hold the vehicle in its original lane.
Fuel consumption is a non-starter here, as the G 63 has that boosted V8 paired up with the aerodynamics of a LEGO brick. The 100-liter tank will devour fuel at a faster rate than the truck’s acceleration, but that’s well within expectations. Over our test week, we averaged 18.2L/100km on 91-octane premium fuel, and at current prices, a 84-liter fill cost roughly $115. It’s a tough pill to swallow, but then again, this is a truck truly made for one-percenters.
Mercedes-Benz prices the G 63 at $195,900, a premium over the G 550’s $134,000 sticker. Our tester had a series of options including a Seat Comfort Package, AMG Carbon Fibre Package, Exclusive Interior Plus Package, and Night Package, bringing the total to $218,050 before the gas guzzler tax of $3,000. At this price, there are no real competitors, but the G-Wagen does play in the same sandbox as the Lamborghini Urus (reviewed here), Bentley Bentayga, and Aston Martin DBX.
Every time I spend a week behind the wheel of a G-Wagen, I find myself on the local classifieds looking for one, and the 2020 Mercedes-AMG G 63 4MATIC is no different. The G-Wagen in all configurations has ridiculously excellent resale value, and even examples pushing 20 years in age and with 300,000km are still transacting for close to $50,000. The current G 63 won’t be depreciating anytime soon and is likely going to hold its value. If you have the means to get your hands on one, you absolutely should, because this fast German box is one of the best vehicles of all time.