While AMG-badged vehicles are usually known for beefed-up on-road performance thanks to powerful, high-displacement V8 engines, it's hard to imagine that sort of upgrade being offered in a classic off-roader like the Mercedes-Benz G-Class.
While the G-Class has a long history of off-roading prowess, the latest generation goes a step further with improved engine performance, off-road characteristics and vehicle dynamics, with Mercedes-AMG being responsible for the engine, suspension and chassis development.
Crouching at the top of the G-Class line-up in Thailand is the Mercedes-AMG G 63, which has been given a large number of upgrades for the 2023 model year.
Over the years, the G 63 has gained cult status among celebrities and collectors, probably due to its dual personality. Is it an off-roader or a muscle car? Or both?
The G 63 is a large SUV that attracts attention with its boxy silhouette and unique styling such as the raised bonnet, round headlights, mounted turning lights, external door hinges, push-type door handles, spare wheel on the tailgate and aggressive wheel fenders.
Multi-beam headlights feature 84 individually controlled LED modules that do not dazzle other road users thanks to individually controlled left and right headlamp direction.
The doors and tailgate are super heavy, hinting at the solid construction of the G-Class. This is probably the only luxury vehicle in the world where you're supposed to slam the door when getting in and out.
The G 63 runs on a ladder frame that Mercedes says is more suitable for off-roading compared to the unibody construction of regular SUVs. Various grades of steel are used for the bodyshell while the wings, bonnet and doors are made of aluminium to help save weight.
Apart from the increased rigidity, the side and rear doors are also sealed to prevent water from entering.
The flared wheel arches are able to take up large-diameter wheels and tyres -- 21in wheels come as standard but there's a large number of optional 22in wheels choices as well. Our vehicle came with 22in black rims and sporty road tyres.
Dual side exhaust pipes below the left and right rear doors not only look aggressive and hot-roddish, but also deliver the head-turning AMG V8 soundtrack, which can be adjusted in two steps.
In fact, there's a long list of options for the G 63, ranging from the Night Package (dark tinted) or G Manufaktur add-ons to Nappa leather upholstery and AMG steering wheel with carbon fibre and Dinamica microfibre.
The interior is highlighted by unique console styling with a special grab handle for the front passenger and chrome switches for its three differential locks.
Two 12.3-inch screens form a widescreen cockpit for the driver, which gives the current G 63 a modern touch that contrasts with its exterior design. There is COMAND Online, Apple/Android connectivity, a touchpad controller and a Burmester high-end audio system.
The seats look modern and provide good comfort both front and rear, while the seating position is quite upright. Both front and rear seats come with a heating function that isn't too useful in Thailand though.
Nevertheless, the large cabin offers plenty of headroom and legroom both front and rear, so you can be chauffeur-driven in the G 63 comfortably as well.
The is 454 litres of space in the luggage area, but if that's not enough the rear seat backrest can be folded (40, 60 or 100%).
The heart of the G 63 is a 4.0-litre V8 biturbo engine that pumps out 585hp and a whopping 850Nm of torque.
The two twin-scroll turbochargers are positioned inside the cylinder "V" for compactness and spontaneous response. Power goes through the AMG Speedshift TCT 9G transmission that provides multiple downshifts as well as double-declutching.
Even in comfort mode, the G 63's exhaust note will attract attention but the real hell breaks loose once the sport or sport+ mode is engaged. Floor the throttle and the throaty V8 roars ahead, reaching 100kph from a standstill in 4.5sec.
According to Mercedes, the top speed is limited to 220kph but could be raised to 240kph with the purchase of the AMG Driver's package. There is a cylinder shut-off system that works in Comfort mode, but it's still a gas guzzler -- average fuel economy is claimed at 7.6kpl with 299g/km of CO2 emissions.
Nevertheless, the fact that this 2.5-tonne monster is able to accelerate at a sportscar pace, and with that huge road presence, it's what owners of the G 63 look for.
Of course, it can go off-road, although it would be a rarer sight than seeing the G 63 at car meets and nightclubs.
There's an intelligent multi-plate clutch that behaves like a locking differential during light off-roading, but there are switches for the front, centre and rear differentials for more demanding conditions. There are three off-road modes -- sand, trail and rock, with off-road graphics being shown on the instrument cluster and centre display.
Despite its brutal looks, the G 63 provides occupants with a comfortable ride thanks to adaptive damping that also features three settings -- comfort, sport and sport+. The front double wishbone suspension is mated to a rigid axle with a five-link suspension at the rear. There are stabilisers both front and rear to help lower body roll while the ground clearance is 241mm.
Stopping power comes from AMG High-Performance disc brakes with callipers painted in red.
The Mercedes-AMG G 63 might be a rich man's toy, but it is also capable of offering lots of driving excitement, off-road prowess and strong driver appeal.
Pros: Menacing looks, powerful V8 engine, comfortable interior Cons: Expensive, fuel-thirsty, not the best handling
Engine: V8 biturbo petrol
Max power: 585hp@6,000rpm
Max torque: 850Nm@2,500-3,500rpm
Transmission: 9-speed automatic
Suspension (f/r): Double wishbone, stabiliser/rigid axle, 5-link, stabiliser
Brakes (f/r): Vented discs/vented discs