The Mercedes-AMG G63 is a lightly facelifted version of the earlier Mercedes-Benz G63 AMG. Along with the subtle alteration in name, the square-rigged off-roader receives a moderate hike in power, some mild chassis tweaks and a more luxurious interior.
It’s hardly a major upgrade, but Mercedes-Benz considers the changes sufficient enough to allow it hike the price from an already inflated £129,375 to £131,675. Choose the limited volume G63 463 Edition model driven here and the sticker rises to a faintly ridiculous £149,970.
While instantly recognisable as the military grade Gelandewagen in production for nearly four decades years now, the facelifted G63 is distinguished from its less powerful G350d and G500 siblings by its own unique front bumper, individual grille insert, wider wheel arch flares, running boards and, on the 463 Edition model, a stainless steel protection plate big 21in wheels shod with 295/40 profile Yokahama tyres.
While decidedly olde worlde in appearance, there’s nothing remotely old-fashioned about the engine. The twin-turbocharged 5.5-litre V8 unit first introduced to the G63 back in 2012 receives a new inlet manifold among other minor tweaks, raising power from a previous 537bhp to a new peak of 563bhp.
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Owing to torque loading limitations with the seven-speed AMG SpeedShift automatic gearbox to which it is mated, though, the upgraded engine continues to kick out the same 561lb ft as before.
Despite the increased power, the 2550kg off-roader is no faster off the line or at the top end as its predecessor, with the 0-62mph time remaining at an official 5.4sec and top speed continuing to be limited to 130mph. Claimed fuel economy and average CO2 emissions also remain unchanged at an eco-challenging 20.5mpg and 322g/km.
What's it like?
Climb up into the G63 and you discover the changes to the interior are every bit as subtle as those made to the exterior. There’s a restyled instrument binnacle and, in the 463 Edition, sumptuous two-tone leather upholstery, which covers most surfaces, including that of the high but shallow dashboard. The steering wheel, instruments, the infotainment system with its 7.0in colour screen and switchgear provide a familiar air to an otherwise old-fashioned cabin.
The driving position is extraordinarily high and upright by contemporary standards, but it’s also very comfortable and gives the driver a truly commanding view of the road. There is also a generous amount of space up front, although the rear suffers from a limited amount of rear legroom. The boot space, at 487 litres, is not exactly big either.
There’s no doubting the acceleration of the G63. Despite its mass and unfavourable aerodynamic qualities, it fires out of the blocks with real force and continues to surge forward all the way up to its limited 130mph top speed. This pace is combined with an alluring bellow of exhaust from the side-mounted exhausts when the twin-turbocharged 5.5-litre V8 engine is stirred with a heavy dose of right foot.
Unlike the new G500, which benefits from a new adaptive damping system offering the choice between Comfort and Sport modes, the G63 retains the same fixed rate dampers as its predecessor. It rides small bumps well, thanks to the long travel springs, but the rigid axles don't provide much control when presented with larger road imperfections, which unsettle the car's composure at speed.
There is a good deal of dive as you get on the brakes, plenty of body roll in corners and the steering is remarkably slow to react to even small steering wheel inputs, all of which makes the G63 a real challenge to drive on winding back roads.
Nor is it any less demanding at constant cruising speeds on straighter roads. On the motorway, the G63's brick-like shape and a tendency for the front end to tram line mean that constant steering corrections are required to keep it tracking straight at speed. There’s also a steady and rather loud rush of wind noise around the pillars at anything over 60mph.
Should I buy one?
The G63 is not a car you’d choose for purely objective reasons. It’s simply too compromised for something that costs a cool £44,670 more than the faster, more dynamically accomplished, significantly more economical, roomier and generally more comfortable GLE 63.
Subjectively, its rugged styling, old school interior layout, throwback driving traits, challenging handling and alluring soundtrack combine to make it a strangely appealing proposition, and a rather expensive one at that, however.
And remember, if the Edition 463 isn't extreme enough for you Mercedes-AMG also makes the G500 4x4 squared - see more of that car in the video below.
Mercedes-AMG G63 Edition 463
Location: Stuttgart, Germany On sale: Now; Price £149,970; Engine 8 cyls, 5461cc, petrol; Power 563bhp at 5500rpm; Torque 561lb ft at 1750-5250rpm; Gearbox 7-spd automatic; Kerb weight 2550kg; Top speed 130mph; 0 62mph 5.4sec; Economy 20.5mpg (Combined); CO2 rating & BIK tax band 322g/km, 37%