The Mercedes G-Class is Merc's longest-lived model, having been introduced back in 1979. So, what better way to give the old-timer a new lease of life than sticking a twin-turbocharged 5.5-litre V8 engine under the bonnet?
Well, that's just what Merc has done in creating the new G63 AMG. The 2.5-tonne leviathan might have its roots in the early days of the Thatcher era, but it has the very latest seven-speed automatic transmission and permanent four-wheel drive to help it make the most of its 537bhp.
What's the 2012 Mercedes-Benz G63 AMG like to drive?
Every journey in the G63 AMG is an event. The trouble is, that event isn't always one you want to be at.
Things get off to a strong start when you turn the key, because the V8 engine fires into life with a rumble that makes you think the gates of Hades are opening. Blip the throttle and the whole car rocks as the four side-exit exhausts bark loudly.
Given that the G63 AMG is big and heavy enough to generate its own gravity, performance is genuinely eye-widening. The big 4x4 will hit 62mph in just 5.4 seconds and carry on to a top speed of 130mph, which isn't bad for something with the aerodynamics of your average maisonette.
Mercedes G63 MG has a twin-turbocharged 5.5-litre V8 engine
That performance quickly becomes disconcerting when the G63 AMG encounters any bumps, ruts or cambers, because the whole car bounces around and gets deflected off line in a way that no modern car should.
The G63's steering is so lethargic it feels like the car is responding in slow-motion
Matters aren't helped by steering that is so lethargic it feels like the car is responding in slow-motion. You almost have to take two stabs at each corner: the first to load up the suspension and tyres in preparation for a change of direction, and the second to actually turn the car round the corner.
It's far better to use a slow-in, fast-out approach, at which point the G63 AMG actually makes brisk cross-country progress. There's also a certain amusement to be had by overtaking others in the motoring equivalent of the Bismarck.
However, the ride is genuinely appalling, because the whole car jerks and rocks around at the merest sign of a bump, and even on the motorway it never settles.
The ride is genuinely appalling, because the whole car jerks and rocks around at the merest sign of a bump
That engine, for all its bluff and bluster when you're accelerating, fades into the background at speed. In fact, the biggest generators of noise are the tyres slapping on the road; even wind noise isn't all that bad, which is a surprise given the set-square styling.
What's the 2012 Mercedes-Benz G63 AMG like inside?
It's a curious mix of the traditional and the modern. Ahead of you lie modern dials, and the centre console is the same as you'd find in any modern Merc, with an iPad-style screen at the top of the dashboard.
Interior is a curious mix of the traditional and the modern
Then you look up at the near-vertical windscreen and the tall, square-shaped side windows; it's like a Grand Design with a wheel at each corner.
The G63 AMG really shows its age in terms of space, too. The driver and front passenger get only just enough legroom (but huge headroom), and there really isn't much legroom for those behind – certainly not when you take into account the car's dimensions.
The boot is reasonably big and practical, but you get to it through a huge, side-hinged door (not a tailgate), which makes access more awkward than it need be in tight car park spaces.
Should I buy one?
The G63 AMG is a relic from an era of vast, conspicuous consumption. We're not sure quite who would buy one – even footballers may baulk at the average economy of 20.5mpg – but whoever they are we'd advise them to look elsewhere.
Yes, it's quick and has undeniable charm, but £123k is a ridiculous amount of money to be spending on something this archaic. Why not go for Merc's own ML63 AMG instead? It's quicker, more comfortable, classier and a darn sight cheaper.
Our reviews are based on hard data and thorough testing in the real world.
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