Stronger than me
The oft repeated anecdote about the G-Class, or Gälendewagen, is how Mercedes-Benz considered calling time on its illustrious life after almost four decades of single-generation production. Upon discovering this, an indignant uproar from presumably well-heeled G-Class owners all over the world prompted the premium marque to strongly reconsider its position on the matter.
And so, the second coming of the G-Class rolled into the midst of an expectant gathering in the vicinity of Châteaux de Lastours recently, a hilly region acting as a sort of proving ground for its offload abilities. Its lineage was clear as day, the angular proportions, fender-mounter indicators, robust grabby door handles leaving little doubt that the Godfather had returned. Succinctly put by Head of the Off-Road Product Group at Mercedes-Benz, Dr Gunnar Güthenke, “If it wears a G, it must be a G."
What we have here is the Mercedes-AMG G 63. Aerodynamics was perhaps secondary on the design brief pecking order, which is rather at objective odds with powering the beast with a handbuilt 4.0-litre biturbo V8. One that in this application goes from 0-100 km/h in 4.5 seconds with no less than 850Nm of twist, and blasting its bassy rumble through twin chrome-tipped side exhausts across the French countryside.
While faithful to its auto-cubism roots on the outside, the interior is anything but – save for the dashboard grab handle. The widescreen cockpit, centre console and steering wheel are served in the manner of Merc’s larger two limos, the S-Class and the E-Class, while the turbine air vents frame the switches for the differentials. The G-Class remains the only series production car with three 100-percent locking diffs.
Building on this mechanical ability are hill descent and terrains programs to ease off-road use, while independent suspension and a rear anti-roll bar ensure road manners and handling are exemplary. Which in this case is satisfactory leashing of the brute force of the G 63 along with its not insignificant mass of hardware. Including of course acres of leather paired with satin-finish aluminium in the cabin. But make no mistake, this luxurious appointment comes with a clear statement of ability in the from of an emblem reading Shöckl Proved – proudly announcing its triumph over the Austrian mountain in capability testing. Par for the course with its progenitor in more than just looks, it would seem.
In all practical considerations, the G-Class should come with torquey diesel and a wash-down interior to tackle the rough and fully embrace its origins as a workhorse – emergency services, military and the like. But as with the equally iconic Range Rover, what started out as a vehicle of singular purpose has now evolved into a lifestyle choice. Superlatives abound for the G-Class, most of which are the opposite of subtle and subdued. Exactly like its clientele, to be fair.
And so, the G-Class returns as it always has been, but ready for the future it deserves to be a part of. There is absolutely nothing like it in the three-pointed star lineup, or from any brand, and it bears little resemblance to the current Mercedes-Benz family aesthetic. No, the G-Class is true to itself, everything else be damned. And if you’re going to go down this road, throw sense to the wind and get the Mercedes-AMG G 63 (RM1,464,888)