Every so often, there are moments when we come across things that defy all explanation. Take the G-Class for instance – or rather the G-Wagen, as it’s fondly known. On paper, it makes no sense whatsoever for an average consumer, let alone for those who shop in the luxury segment. A ladder frame chassis, high centre of gravity, appearance that has been static for almost four decades, phenomenal off-road ability and the aerodynamics of a brick. Pair that with a 577bhp, twin-turbocharged V8 from AMG, and the G 63 AMG seems like a high-speed disaster waiting to happen, at least on paper.
But, let’s not get ahead of ourselves. It’s this very combination of extreme qualities that make the G-Wagen such an endearing machine to so many. Designed originally as a defence and off-road vehicle, the G-Wagen quickly became popular with people who wanted a tough, almost indestructible vehicle that they could take virtually anywhere. But, in the 2000s someone – a genius, really – decided to produce an AMG version of it, and it became an overnight hit the world over.
For its second generation – yup, you read it right, second generation in 40 years of production – Mercedes has given the G-Wagen a very thorough makeover. It now has a much stiffer chassis, lightweight body panels, better suspension for both on and off-road driving and more power because, of course, there’s no such thing as too much power – not even in a 2.5-ton flying brick.
However, the proof of the pudding is in the eating, and this is where the G 63 surpasses all expectations. The new chassis and suspension setup are an absolute revelation. And so is the engine and all-wheel system, which endows the G 63 with insane acceleration – from 0 to 100km/h in 4.5 seconds. It’s an insanely fast car, with a brilliant exhaust note and a steering that actually obeys you unconditionally. All of which makes the G tremendously fun to drive. The view from behind the wheel, which feels like sitting on the second floor of a building, only adds to the entire experience.
The real secret, though, is that Mercedes has managed to retain all the idiosyncrasies of the G-Wagen that gave it a very distinct identity. It still has that designed-by-a-pencil-and-a-ruler look, and the doors – when you close them – still sound like you’ve entered a steel vault. Locking the doors makes you feel as if you’re loading a heavy machine gun. But now, all this comes with the luxury of an S-Class – wonderful displays, terrific interior design, premium fit-and-finish and those amazing massage chairs. I don’t think it’s any surprise why the G-Wagen is a smash hit with its target crowd around the world. As for me, well, I’m willing to trade multiple body parts for a new G-Wagen.