By Eric Peters- A Corvette getting to 60 mph in 3.7 seconds is kind of meh at this point. A Mustang GT can almost do the same. It’s just not that big of a deal anymore. Such speed has become common, and so, unremarkable.
If you want remarkable, there’s the Benz G 63.
It also gets to 60 mph in about 3.7 seconds. Well, OK, 3.9 seconds, if you want to pick nits. But it does so carrying twice as much weight as a Corvette — almost — and standing nearly twice as high.
The G also goes off-road with the tenacity of one of those lizards you see scrambling up sheer rock walls.
There is a downside, though. You have to close the doors really hard. Otherwise they don’t close.
What It Is
The G 63 is an ultra-rugged four-wheel-drive SUV that’s also an extremely high-performance sports car packing almost 600 horsepower and more than 600 foot-pounds of twice-turbo’d V-8 torque.
It has three locking differentials (center, front and rear), an adjustable suspension and nearly 10 inches of ground clearance.
It’s also an ultra-luxury Mercedes, fitted with pneumatic bolstering, multistage massaging seats, three-zone climate control and an exceptional Burmester surround-sound audio system.
If you want it all, here it is.
Base price is $147,500, which is actually a deal when you consider you’re getting three top-of-the-line Benzes for your money.
And this distinctiveness is unavailable elsewhere at any price.
Don’t be fooled by the old-timey thumb-push door pulls and familiar box-on-box corrugated slab exterior silhouette that’s straight out of 1979 — the first year the G became available. The 2019 G wagon is heavily updated from the wheels up.
The most noticeable changes, though, are inside, which is completely revamped and now in sync with the look, feel and comfort of Mercedes’ top-of-the-line luxury sedans.
There have been major changes under the hood, too.
The G 63’s V-8 power plant loses a liter of physical displacement but gains 14 horsepower and 66 foot-pounds of torque. There is also a new nine-speed automatic transmission and a completely revised suspension that much improves this SUV’s on-road manners without diluting its off-road capabilities.
It’s a Mercedes … with side pipes.
The revised interior is no longer as rugged.
It’s the anti-Prius.
What’s Not So Good
The beautiful V-8 is hidden under covers.
You need to remember to slam the doors — every time.
Under the Hood
Here we have the apotheosis of internal combustion — in the form of a “bi-turbo” (that’s two of them) 4.4-liter V-8 that’s hand-built and hand-signed by the builder.
It develops 577 horsepower and 627 foot-pounds of torque, an increase over the previous-generation G63’s larger 5.5-liter V-8, which had 563 horsepower and 561 foot-pounds of torque.
Remarkably, the new G gets better gas mileage: 13 mpg city and 15 mpg on the highway versus the old model’s 12 mpg city and 15 mpg highway.
On the Road
There are many ways to have fun in the G, but perhaps the best way is to take someone for a ride who has no clue what the G is and observe their reaction when you show them what it can do.
Battleships don’t fly, after all.
Of course, they might notice the side pipes — two on each side — and wonder what’s up with that. Soon, they’ll know.
Select Sport+ using the toggle switch on the center console. This opens up the side pipes — you’ll immediately hear the change in pitch — and dials up the most aggressive transmission shift points (including rev-matching downshifts), throttle response and, of course, boost.
Getting a 6,000-pound box to 60 mph in under 4 seconds never fails to entertain, especially when you do it next to a Corvette.
At the Curb
Once you’ve closed those doors — make sure! — you find yourself inside a thoroughly modern Mercedes.
The old G’s entire dashboard has been deep-sixed in favor of a flat-panel LCD display essentially identical to the one inside a new S-Class, with a driver-configurable main cluster (select from Sport, Comfort and Progressive themes) and a large secondary display for everything else including the driver- and passenger-seat massagers and pneumatic side bolsters that inflate in accordance with cornering forces.
If speed is not your main need, you can get the G Wagon in the same basic configuration but without the AMG upgrades for $124,500. It’s still packing the 4.4-liter V-8; it’s just not hand-built, and it has a more modest 416 horsepower.
The Bottom Line
You don’t have to be religious to believe in meerakuhls. Nor put your hand on the television set. Just put your hands on the steering wheel of the G 63, and then put your foot down.