Long-term test review: Mercedes-AMG G 63

15 Aug, 2019 1:00pm Steve Fowler

Final report: our Mercedes-AMG G 63 SUV kept stealing the limelight and we will miss it dearly

Verdict

4.5
The G 63 is one of those cars that not everybody will like, but which nails its brief perfectly. For that, we admire it and those who created it. Steve enjoyed stepping into it every time, so it will be greatly missed.

Mileage: 13,760
Economy: 18.7mpg

Never, in my lengthy career as an automotive journalist, have I run a car with such wide-ranging talents as the Mercedes-AMG G 63.

It’s been a wedding car, it’s taken a washing machine to the tip, it’s done serious off-roading, it’s towed, it’s been transport to a teenager’s prom, it’s been the star of a car show, it’s a long-distance cruiser, it’s a luxury limousine and it’s a supercar that our testers managed to get from zero to 60mph in just 3.9 seconds. And I love it to bits!

• Best 4x4s and SUVs

It’s also an A-list superstar, photographed on a daily basis. It must be like going out with a supermodel – there always seems to be a camera pointing in my direction, but it’s not me they want pictures of; it’s the G 63.

I collected my car from the dealership at Mercedes-Benz World in Brooklands, Surrey, where we immediately put its off-road credentials to the test. It’s fair to say that this testing course was well within the G-Class’s limits, but it was the one chance we had to make use of the low-range gear ratios and three locking differentials.

The car really excelled on tarmac, too, proving comfortable and refined on both my daily 44-mile commute and the regular jaunts from Buckinghamshire to Liverpool with my son to watch football.

Apart from the big Merc’s breadth of abilities, the other thing that will stick long in my memory will be the quality of the engineering in the car, especially retaining the spirit of the 40-year-old original. The looks have been subtly updated, with fancy LED front lights mimicking the original’s, along with the indicators that sit on top of the wings and help manoeuvring this big machine through tight streets.

Even the doors have been carefully engineered to evoke memories of the iconic original G-Wagen. The hinges sit proud on the outside of the car, while you really have to put some effort into slamming them shut – so much so that most newcomers don’t manage it first time round.

Then there’s the sound of the car locking and unlocking, again engineered carefully to make a specific noise. To me it sounds like a gunshot, but it’s a fabulous reminder of how robust the whole car is. Even the ride is the same. Mostly it’s comfortable enough, but with a certain bounciness that’s not uncomfortable, yet reminds you of the original G-Wagen.

This is also a car that’s been brought bang up-to-date with the latest technology. The twin 12.3-inch screens blend into one across the dash, with the left-hand side taking care of infotainment and the right-hand side passing on information to the driver.

It can all be personalised, but mostly I used Apple CarPlay, which is standard and can be controlled by the scroll wheel on the centre console, the touch-sensitive pad just behind it, or even a tiny touch-sensitive button on the left of the steering wheel; and whichever I used, it was all very intuitive.

The fact that I used CarPlay all the time left the G’s own infotainment system pretty redundant, but the same can’t be said of the 15-speaker Burmester sound system – one of the best from that brand I’ve experienced.

But it wasn’t my favourite noise from the G 63, oh no. Sitting among the many buttons to adjust the car’s suspension and transmission (for the record, my pick was Sport, which sits between Comfort and Sport +), was something that I described as the ‘loud’ button. It turned the exhaust note up a notch – and it was already pretty fruity. The wonderful V8 soundtrack dominated the driving experience.

On the inside, things are spacious and comfortable, with impressive build quality – although my car did have one slight fault with the window seal causing a whistle, which was fixed under warranty. Of course, the G 63 isn’t a cheap car to buy or run – getting mpg in the low 20s was worthy of celebration (and helped by the engine running on four cylinders rather than the usual eight when it could).

So if you are lucky enough to be able to consider a G 63, should you? Well, if the image suits you – and it won’t everyone – then I’d say a very quick yes

Mercedes-AMG G 63: third report

Our Mercedes-AMG G 63 steals the show wherever it goes

Mileage: 12,940
Economy: 18.6mpg 

One thing you need to get used to when running a Mercedes-AMG G 63 is having your photo taken. Whether I’m parked, driving along the motorway or at one of my frequent stops in a petrol station, someone is always pointing a smartphone in my direction.

I’d like to think that it was me they were taking pictures of, but the star of the show is always the G. It’s something of a cult car – the original supercar SUV, favoured by the famous. And me. So it seemed to be the ideal car to take to the inaugural Autoism Car Club meet at the Classic Motor Hub in Bibury, Gloucestershire.

It was set up and run by 15-year-old KinyuKinr reader Leon Watts, with help from friends and family, raising money for the National Autistic Society and Riverside School.

Among the exotic Ferraris, Porsches and Aston Martins, the G 63 got just as much interest, especially when I fired it up and hit the ‘loud’ button that amplifies the already fruity exhaust. Leon seemed to enjoy it, too.

After that, it was off for a night with friends at the Malmaison hotel in Oxford. This was formerly the city’s prison, so it was reassuring when the hotel staff wanted to make sure that my car was securely parked at the front.

With four adults on board, the G 63 transformed from supercar to luxury car, providing a quiet and comfortable cruise up the M40, with excitement reaching fever pitch as the average fuel economy nudged over the 20mpg mark! What do you expect from a 577bhp SUV that our testers managed to get from 0-60mph in just 3.9 seconds?

Mercedes-AMG G 63: second report

Our Mercedes-AMG G 63 4x4 is built like a tank and is just as impressive

Mileage: 11,360
Economy: 18.9mpg

I’ve been missing my Mercedes-AMG G 63 for the past couple of weeks. Firstly, James Elliott, editor-in-chief of our sister title Octane, borrowed it for a week in the West Country. 

Swapping out of the classics that James normally drives and into the G was a bit of a culture shock, although the big Mercedes’ fuel economy, which now averages 18.9mpg, wasn’t too painful. “It’s about the same as I get from some of my classic cars,” he said. 

The attention the G 63 gets was something James is also used to, especially at his local car wash. But although he noted the increased size of the latest G-Class versus the old version (an example of which arrived just as he was getting my model valeted), he came away hugely impressed by the quality and tech on board the new car. His family really valued its space, too.

I wholeheartedly agree; it not only has supercar levels of performance – our testers clocked 0-60mph in 3.9 seconds, incredible for the car’s size and weight – but the quality of the interior and the ease with which the vast array of tech is integrated into the driving experience also put it on par with luxury cars.

All is not perfect in the land of the G, though. My car is currently back with Mercedes under repair. At high speeds it sounded like a damaged window seal was causing a high-pitched whistle. But if you turned off the air-con, the noise disappeared, hinting it might come from the side vent. A friend with a G-Class had a similar problem and Mercedes reported that it was a known issue.

Our car has now been fixed and yes, it was the seal not the air-con. Apparently at a certain speed the airflow through the car is affected when the air-con is on, causing the whistle. A change to the window seals corrected the problem.

Mercedes-AMG G 63: First report

New 577bhp SUV joins our fleet. Can the Mercedes-AMG G 63 fulfil its luxury and sporting brief?

Mileage: 8,279
Economy: 18.3mpg

The Mercedes G-Wagen can trace its history back to the early seventies when it was designed as a utilitarian off-roader. With various updates along the way, it rolled on until 2018, when the biggest change in its history took place – the all-new G-Class was born.

While the style of the new G is very similar to that of the original – a really clever update of an iconic look – it’s now part SUV, part luxury car and, in Mercedes-AMG G 63 guise, part sports car.

As a bit of a G-Wagen fan, I couldn’t let the opportunity pass when the chance to run a G 63 came up. How would this giant, twin-turbo 4.0-litre SUV stack up as part of the Fowler fleet, dealing with family duties and daily commuting?

I had to wait a short while before I got my car because it was put to use moving the glitterati around during London Fashion Week – ideal work for such a head-turning vehicle that’s garnered something of a reputation as a favourite of the fashionable and famous.

I took delivery of my Rubellite Red G 63 at Mercedes’ flagship showroom at Brooklands, which sits alongside the Mercedes World experience centre at the famous old race track in Weybridge, Surrey.

This isn’t just a story of an SUV with 577bhp, 850Nm and rather delightful (and sometimes rather rude) side-exit exhausts that emit the most glorious deep roar when you floor the throttle. This is every inch the modern Mercedes, with the very latest tech on board that adds to the luxury feel that the G 63 has in abundance.

So I needed a thorough handover, which came courtesy of Joe Jeavons, who took me through the myriad menus in the G’s infotainment system and connected my smartphone to the Mercedes Me app – which is already proving useful and reliable.

With a list price of £143,305, you’d expect the G 63 to be well equipped, and it is – but that’s not always the case with such cars. The twin 12.3-inch screens with Apple CarPlay and Android Auto connectivity, the 15-speaker Burmester surround sound system, heated seats and steering wheel, a choice of 64 light colours to bathe the interior in, adaptive cruise control and parking assistance (that might come in handy) are all standard. Even the metallic paint finish is included – a rare thing indeed.

My car adds the £2,700 AMG Night Package, which gives the exterior a darker, meaner look, the £2,000 AMG Driver’s Pack, which ups the top speed to 149mph. Not that I plan to go anywhere near that.

In the first few weeks of G 63 ownership, there are a few things that stand out. Yes, it’s sensationally quick – the official 0-62mph time of 4.5 seconds doesn’t do justice to the sheer force of this 3.2-tonne, 4,613mm-long SUV at full throttle, or the surprise of others at the speed and the noise. It’s a truly exhilarating and intoxicating experience.

Yet it also does the luxury thing brilliantly. The interior is impeccably built and looks fantastic – it’s a work of art, especially at night when you can play with the colour schemes for hours on end.

It’s also doing everyday stuff well. It’s a gentle companion on my daily commute and the whole Fowler five have taken a few long journeys already with no complaints about space or ride comfort – the bouncy ride used to be a real bugbear of Gs of old.

For the fitter members of the family, climbing up into the cabin is no problem, but sadly (ahem) my 79-year-old mother-in-law struggles. And at 1,969mm high, the G 63 squeezes under the height restrictor in our office car park with just millimetres to spare – it’s best described as ‘van height’.

You have to get used to being looked at lots, too – this is a car with a reputation for being driven by the rich and famous. You soon become familiar with the disappointed expressions as people realise this one isn’t.

And as we expected, fuel economy isn’t great, but it’s not horrendous. My average of 18.3mpg is only around 10mpg behind a diesel Range Rover I ran some time ago. For me, though, for the rare combination of power and luxury, it’s a price worth paying.

* Insurance quote from AA (0800 107 0680) for a 42-year-old in Banbury, Oxon, with three points.

Key specs

  • Model: Mercedes-AMG G 63
  • On fleet since: January 2019
  • Price new: £143,370
  • Engine: 4.0-litre twin-turbo V8, 577bhp
  • CO2/tax: 299g/km/£450
  • Options: AMG Night Package (£2,700), AMG Driver’s Package (£2,000)
  • Insurance*: Group: 50/Quote: N/A
  • Mileage: 13,760
  • Economy: 18.6mpg
  • Any problems: Whistling from driver’s window – fixed under warranty