Mercedes-Benz reinvents 'off-road'

So you think your SUV is handy off-road? Check out this 544hp six-wheel drive G-Wagen...

Sometimes you can go so far off the beaten track that even four-wheel drive won't get you out of trouble. There are times when an extra pair of driven wheels could come in really handy - and it is for those circumstances that Mercedes-Benz has developed the G 63 AMG 6x6 - a G-Wagen pick-up with two driven axles under the load bay and a 544hp V8 engine under the bonnet.

Described as a 'near series show vehicle' the G 63 was displayed at the Geneva Motor Show. The press photos show it at play in the Dubai desert, which is probably an indication of the target market. If there is enough interest the six-wheel G-Class may go into production.

The standard G-Class isn't what we'd call conventionally good-looking, and the extra axle and pick-up load bay don't make it any more handsome. That said, the appearance is 100% functional.

Styling details include carbon fibre wheel arch extensions to cover the off-road tyres. A stainless steel roll-cage is fitted over the load bay and the load area itself is finished in bamboo.

Although the 6x6 started out as a military vehicle the concept is more five-star hotel than army barracks on the inside. Four electrically adjustable, heated and ventilated leather seats are finished in 'designo' leather with contrasting stitching. The roof liner and pillars are trimmed in Alcantara and rear-seat passengers get a special centre console and colour screens in the backs of the front head restraints.

AMG's biturbo V8 engine (with 544hp and 760Nm of torque) drives through a seven-speed automatic gearbox. Despite weighing 3.8 tonnes the claimed 0-100km/h time is less than six seconds, though top speed is limited to 160km/h.

Reinforcing the G 63 AMG's serious off-road credentials there is a low-ratio transfer gearbox and five differential locks. Portal axles help increase ground clearance and pressure in the 37-inch tyres can be adjusted on the move to deal with difficult terrain.

Spring rates have been altered to cope with the weight and characteristics of the three-axle layout as well. At the front, reinforced springs, usually reserved for armoured G-Class vehicles, are fitted. The first rear axle uses firmer springs with the second axle getting a softer set-up. Gas pressurised dampers keep the suspension in check.

Anything else?
Off-road ability includes the capability to wade through water up to one metre deep while the tyre pressure system means that, on soft surfaces, the G-Wagen exerts no more pressure on the ground than a person of average weight.

Fuel consumption isn't mentioned, but a 63-litre auxiliary petrol tank is fitted to supplement the standard 96-litre item. The typical customer probably doesn't have to worry about the cost of refuelling.

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Published on March 25, 2013