06 MERCEDES-AMG G63

New interior, new tech, new handling, still totally nuts

BY DYLAN CAMPBELL

BEHOLD, THE BRAND new Mercedes-AMG G63, which MOTOR has just tested in Australia. Yes, it still looks like it was designed with a ruler, its slab-like exterior the stuff of Adrian Newey’s nightmares (its 0.53 Cd means it produces more than twice as much drag as a new S-Class). However, the only carry-over parts from the previous model, we’re told, are the windscreen wipers, rear-door spare wheel carrier, and exterior door handles, which retain a charming click during opening and closing. Everything else? Brand new.

The ladder chassis layout remains, which is partly why the new G63 still weighs 2.5 tonnes, but it’s out with the old live axle front suspension, in with a modern, independent double wishbone set-up. The rear axle remains a solid beam but now located with four links and a Panhard rod. There are anti-roll bars front and rear, while connecting the wheels to the body is an air suspension system with adaptive dampers. The old recirculating-ball steering is now replaced by new rackand-pinion EPAS with a variable ratio.

Under the bonnet, AMG has replaced the hard working old 5.5-litre with the increasingly ubiquitous 4.0-litre twin-turbo M178 V8. Outputs are up from 400kW/760Nm to 430kW/850Nm. Bigger news still, weight is down a staggering 170kg thanks to newly aluminium bonnet, front guards, doors and tailgate. Thanks to that, and also the punchier ratios of a new quickshifting nine-speed torque converter auto, the claimed 0-100km/h time has dropped from 5.4 seconds to 4.5sec.

There’s been a night-and-day improvement to how the G63 drives. At low speeds, it’s comfortable, quiet and refined, the ride more than acceptable, even if there remains an omnipresent chassis wobble over bumps reminding you you’re on a ladder chassis.

It is also maniacally fast for how big it is and how much it weighs. There is a mountain of effortless turbocharged torque available at any point in the rev range, making the G63 an effortless cruiser - or a total madman under full acceleration. And yes, for those who loved the old G63 for the racket that came out those sidepipes, the reduction in engine capacity has not a bit diminished the decibel factor.

In the old G63 that monumental engine meant you could easily find yourself entering corners at grisly speeds only to have a panic attack when you started turning the steering wheel. No longer the case, the new G63’s handling could be described as - gasp - good! There is a brand new accuracy and positivity about the controls which give you the confidence to guide the G63 through corners at speeds you wouldn’t dare in the previous car.

This is, of course, still no taut and precise sports car. But where the G63 really excels is in creating a feeling; no other car offers the unique experience of the Mercedes-AMG G63. And for that, we love it.