German tuner Brabus has unveiled the 900 Crawler, a hardcore off-roading machine that it describes as the "ultimate desert dunes racer" and which was created to celebrate the company's 45th birthday.
Although based on the Mercedes G-Class, the 900 Crawler takes a form more akin to an off-road buggy with a tubular frame chassis specially developed by Brabus. That chassis is particularly visible given the Crawler's relative lack of bodywork (there are no doors or windows) and the fact that the exposed tubes are painted bright red. The chassis frame also serves the function of a safety cell and roll cage should things go pear-shaped.
The suspension mounts are all strengthened to cope with the fact that Brabus sees the Crawler tackling sand dunes and other off-road surfaces at high speeds and thus elements such as the control arms, subframes and axle housings have all been milled from solid high-strength aluminium. Other underbody components are made from tough carbon/Kevlar composites.
Superior ground clearance
Its off-roading nous is further enhanced by ground-clearance of 53cm thanks to newly-designed portal axles, which is enormous even when compared with notably competent 4x4 vehicles such as the classic Land Rover Defender (26cm) and some versions of the current Jeep Wrangler (29cm).
Contributing to that ground clearance are the chunky 40x13.50 R20 tyres, with the carbon bodywork around the front and rear wheel arches adapted to accommodate not just the tyres themselves but the long degree of suspension travel encountered when traversing uneven surfaces at pace.
Powering the 900 Crawler is the twin-turbo V8 found in the Mercedes-AMG G 63, but with its output significantly ramped up to 900hp. Peak torque of 1,250Nm occurs as low as 2,900rpm and how Brabus has achieved this is chiefly as a result of increasing the engine's displacement to 4.5 litres, raising the maximum boost pressure of the turbos and fitting high-end parts including new forged pistons, balanced connecting rods and a new crankshaft.
The meaty side-exit exhausts can be muted using the "Coming Home" button mounted on the steering wheel. Power is sent permanently to all four wheels via a nine-speed transmission with gear changes operated by paddle shifters behind the steering wheel. All that extra power results in a 0-100km/h time of just 3.4 seconds, though the Crawler's top speed has been limited to 160km/h due to its off-road tyres.
The Crawler's cockpit is quite a bit more spartan than that of the G-Class with the driver and up to three passengers strapped into carbon racing seats with four-point safety belts. The seats are clad in bright red fabric that has been designed to be impervious to sand and bleaching by the sun, while the switchgear and pedals are also finished in red to match the chassis frame and seats. Acknowledging that the Crawler is going to get loud at speed, the interior comes with an intercom system allowing the driver and passengers to communicate with each other.
Not road legal
The Brabus 900 Crawler doesn't come cheap, with the company quoting a price in Germany of €749,000 before taxes, which is a lot for something that isn't road-legal, and which is only designed, Brabus says, "for use far off paved roads." Just 15 examples are due to be made, five each year between now and 2024.