From £370,0008

The Mercedes G 63 AMG is the ultimate in go-anywhere civilian vehicles

This is the lunatic six-wheel Mercedes G 63 AMG 6x6, the largest and most extreme road legal SUV to ever hail from Mercedes' road car operations.

This is the second most expensive Mercedes - after only the SLS Electric Drive

This plush, leather-lined civilian version of the off-road vehicle has been conceived to appeal to some of Mercedes-Benz's most affluent clientele, and promises a vehicle without compromise, which is what we are in Dubai to find out.

It features six driven wheels, low range gearing, five differential locks and a tyre control system for its standard 37-inch wheels. Mercedes says it is "the last word in forward-thrusting power for the beaten track".

Unlike the military version of the G 320 CDI 6x6, which is fitted with Mercedes-Benz's 3.0-litre V6 diesel and is offered in outputs of up to 220bhp, the G 63 AMG 6x6 gets a twin-turbocharged 5.5-litre V8 from AMG with 536bhp. Torque is a 560lb ft – crucial in providing the shove required to haul the big four-seater’s considerable 3775kg kerb weight.

Mercedes' 7G-tronic seven-speed automatic transmission is fitted in place of the old NAG1 five-speed auto 'box found on the army version. Its transfer case can alter between a 0.87:1 high-range ratio for on-road driving and 2.16:1 low-range ratio for off-road conditions to all six wheels in a nominal 30:40:30 split. Power for the rearmost axle is supplied by an extra shaft. There are five electronic differential locks offering 100 per cent lock up of all six wheels, operated by three switches on the dashboard.

Back to top

Relaying the engine's strong reserves to the ground are massive 37-inch wheels featuring a bead-plate design. They are shod with 12.5in-wide wheels. 

At 5875mm in length, 2110mm in width and 2210mm in height, the G 63 AMG 6x6 is 1106mm longer, 225mm wider and 272mm higher than the G 63 AMG. Along with a 300mm increase in the wheelbase through to the middle axle at 3120mm, the front and middle axles have increased in width by 281mm each at 1790mm, requiring widened and lengthened carbonfibre guards to cover the huge wheels.

Ground clearance is a whopping 460mm while fording depth is put at 1000mm – some 250mm and 400mm more than the standard car. Approach and departure angles have been increased by 16 degrees and 27 degrees at 52 degrees and 54 degrees respectively, while the breakover angle has increased by 1 degree at 22 degrees.

To drive, it's a blast, at least in the wide-open space of a Dubai desert where the G 63 AMG 6x6 has sufficient room to strut its stuff. I'm not sure how it would fare during the morning rush hour, but there’s no doubt you'd be noticed. And really, that's what this new Mercedes-Benz is all about. 

That said, the example we drove was terrifically engineered – as complete from a technical standpoint as you'd expect any model from the German car maker whose first 6x6 customer deliveries are planned to get underway in just six months' time. 

Before we got behind the wheel, we were taken for a wild ride over the dunes by a Mercedes test driver, who performed a round of donuts to prove how well engineered the G 63 AMG 6x6 really is. The fact that it was originally conceived for military use helps, of course. The big surprise is just how refined it is. 

Once you’ve heaved yourself on to the substantial step plate and introduced your backside to the leather-lined comfort of the G63 AMG 6x6's heavily contoured sport seat, you discover a cabin changed little from the standard G 63 AMG up front.

The upright driving position is old school, as is the steeply angled windscreen and shallow dashboard. But forward vision is brilliant and indicators mounted on the front fenders act as positioning points. Rear vision is hampered by the tall rear seatbacks and a small two-piece sliding rear window.

Back to top

At 3120mm, there's a 300mm increase in wheelbase to the first of the rear axles. It provides a longer cabin than the standard G 63 AMG – and with it additional rear legroom. There's a liberal covering of Alcantara throughout and the standard three-across rear bench seat is replaced by two individual AMG sport seats. They get electronic backrest adjustment and are divided by a rear centre console.

There's an engaging blare through the four sidepipes as you hit the starter button to fire the engine, lending the big Mercedes an eager demeanour. Blip the throttle and it squats on its springs under load change like a true muscle car.

Once underway, the G 63 AMG 6x6 proves remarkably easy to drive.