- Mercedes unveils its rugged G63 AMG six-wheel SUV.
- Mercedes is already making plans to build 20 or 30 G63 AMG 6X6s starting in October this year.
- With an 8,323-pound curb weight, the 544-horsepower SUV still hustles from zero to 62 in under 6 seconds.
STUTTGART, Germany — If Mercedes-Benz wants people to believe it still has an outrageous streak, the G63 AMG 6X6 is exactly what it would build.
The Benz skunkworks, headed by Axel Harries, had already developed a long-range 6X6 G-Wagon for the Australian Army, but it has ripped out the V6 turbodiesel and replaced it with AMG's 5.5-liter twin-turbo V8 to create the most unstoppable AMG in history.
While it's officially being described as a test platform to judge if there is enough interest to take the concept forward, Benz is already making plans to build 20 or 30 G63 AMG 6X6s starting from October this year.
It won't just be the most extreme machine in the Benz stable, but it will also be one of the most exclusive, with retail pricing estimated to fall short only of the upcoming SLS electric and well upstream of the SLS Black Series. Harries estimated somewhere between 350,000 and 400,000 euros in Germany.
With an 8,323-pound curb weight, the 6X6 has taken the already-hefty G63 and added an astonishing 2,545 pounds. What's more astonishing is that the 544-horsepower V8 will still throw it to 62 mph in under 6 seconds.
But the curb weight is just a metaphor because everything about this machine is big. Its turning circle is big, its ride height is big, its price tag is big and its tires are big. The only small thing is its payload. And the amount of common sense it makes.
This is born to climb sand dunes, to play in the desert and to be a fun machine to drive. Accordingly, its interior is as far removed as possible from an army beastie, with its four individual seats dragged from the front of the G63 (which means, essentially, the front of the E63) and the cabin stretched 11.8 inches longer than the standard G63.
In spite of the size and heft, the Mercedes six-wheel's off-road ability is hugely increased over the standard G, thanks to Unimog-style portal wheel hubs that push the axles into the top of the wheel, then step down via gears to drive the center of the wheel. There are also five (five!!!) diff locks, 37-inch wheels and tires, huge Ohlins dampers and onboard air compressors that can lower and raise tire pressure on the run.
The axles stretch the track of all six axles an additional 11 inches over the standard G63, taking them out to 70.5 inches, and demanding a slick set of carbon-fiber wheel arch extensions to keep them politely inboard.
Then there's the wheelbase. That's been stretched by 11.8 inches to 122.8 inches — and that's just to the middle axle — and all of that space has been given over to the rear seat's occupants. And then there's another 43.3 inches between the middle axle and the rear one.
The G63 AMG 6x6 is bigger in every dimension. It measures nearly 625 inches long, which is more than 43 inches beyond the G63. At 83 inches wide, it has been bumped out by 8.6 inches and its height has jumped 10.7 inches to 87 inches. Whatever else it needs, the G63 AMG 6X6 is going to demand one hell of a garage.
Then there are the off-road numbers. The ground clearance more than doubles, leaping by 9.8 inches to 18.1 inches, and the wading depth has jumped 15.7 inches to 3.3 feet. The ride height is 11.1 inches, so you'll have some climbing to do even to get into it. And there's no helpful handle.
The off-road angles are all better, too, with the approach angle jumping 16 degrees to 52 and the departure angle boosted by 27 degrees to 54, while the rampover angle creeps up a degree to 22 degrees.
Unfortunately, the payload is a miserly 1,654 pounds. That means that if you stick four adults in it, you'll only be able to carry 800 pounds of anything else.
The seven-speed MCT transmission has had a bit of reinforcing, which is just as well because it has never been AMG's nicest feature.
The driveline starts with a two-speed transfer case with a choice of either a 0.87:1 high range or a 2.16:1 low range. Then there is a locking center diff between the conventional axles, then another one between the second and third axles, and both center diffs are managed by a single button on the center console.
There are locking diffs on each of the cross axles, with the rear two run by one console button and the front one by another. When all locked in, they send 30 percent of the drive to the front axle, 40 percent to the middle and the rest to the rear.
The G63 AMG 6x6 uses wheels and tires complete with bead-locking technology. They are huge, taken from U.S. off-roading culture, at 37-by-12.5-by-18 inches.
The brakes to stop the 6x6 all are cast-iron, while the steering is an old-fashioned recirculating-ball system with 3.4 turns lock-to-lock.
But while the mechanical parts will be both fast and rugged, the Mercedes-Benz G63 AMG 6x6 will also be luxurious. Besides the best in AMG seating, complete with heating and ventilation and full bolstering and lumbar support adjustments in all four seats, it gets plenty of everything else, so start with everything the top-of-the-line G63 gets and work up from there.
Edmunds says: Just about every major carmaker in the world has an SUV. Mercedes has made an FUV.