Shopping for a 2021 Mercedes-AMG G63? Look at these alternatives
The big boxy brute is iconic, but these other options are worth a look, too
So, you want Merc’s top-of-the-line G-Class, the AMG G63. Well, who the hell can blame you? The most attention-grabbing thing on four wheels short of a lime-green Bugatti with $1,000 bills (loosely) taped to its fenders, driving an AMG’ed Galendewagen is to never be lonely. Strangers will accost you on the street, friends will beg you for rides, and family will fret that you’ve entered into some illicit trading beyond just the insider. Seriously, I’m not sure walking down Main Street completely naked will attract as much attention. Certainly not as much positive attention.
Everyone, it seems, wants a G63. Pimply-faced pre-teens who couldn’t afford a Mercedes doob—er, cigarette lighter. Ontario Supreme Court judges who should, one would think, know better. Even Tesla-driving greenies gawk. Hell, my neighbor/photographer absolutely hates SUVs, and even he’s trying to convince his wife to sell the house so they can live in the boxy sport brute. You better have one fancy Ferrari if you’re going to compete in the Gran Prix du Rodeo Drive with a G63.
As for how it drives, that is probably best — or, at least, most honestly — described as “not as bad as it used to.” Recently refreshed in 2018, the Galendewagen had spent most of the last 40 years frozen in time, 2018 bringing new framework, better suspension, and a much-needed interior revision. So now the G63 goes better, handles better, and actually has a modicum of the spaciousness that its huge body promised but failed to deliver in previous versions.
That all said, it still rides on a live axle in the rear — the front suspension, however, has finally been modernized to a double-wishbone system — and still weighs almost as much as a small dump truck. The G63 is not, despite its hefty price tag, big boxy shape, and equally big booming exhaust, the best at anything.
Its 2,650-kilogram curb weight, for instance, blunts the charge of its otherwise impressive 577 horsepower, those two live axles work against the magic of Mercedes’ incredibly sophisticated electronically-controlled suspension, and a transmission tunnel to beat all transmission tunnels still makes the seating kinda cozy.
The big question, then, is not whether the G63 is the best luxury SUV you can buy, but rather whether it is good enough not to hinder its primary function — again, impress strangers, dazzle friends and worry family. And to that, the answer is a resounding “yes.” The G63 might not be nearly as fast as an X5M which, for instance, boasts about the same horsepower from its quite similar twin-turbo’ed 4.0-litre V8, but 4.5 seconds to 100 kilometres an hour is nothing to be sniffed at, especially when it’s accompanied by a truly epic launch sequence.
And no, despite some pretty sophisticated shock absorbers, it doesn’t ride anywhere near as well as an S-Class — or the aforementioned X5M, in fact — but it does handle bumps and road heaves better than expected. Well enough, in fact, that a long 650-kilometre straight shot to Mont Tremblant was more than comfortable enough.
Which also describes the interior. To be sure the G63 is not as roomy inside as, say, Mercedes’ own GLS. But, take my word for it, there’s absolutely not going to be any cross-shopping between the GLS and the monster-motored Galendewagon.