Price as tested: £153,905
It’s the old G-wagen! Or is it? The headlights are said to be the failsafe way to tell new from old. Otherwise, it’s all so familiar, as unfashionably boxy as before with its right angles and flat surfaces and spare wheel mounted on its side-opening tailgate. It might still be body-on-chassis and have a solid rear axle but the body’s all new, as is the suspension, engine, interior and electronics. The aim is to keep the look but transform the drive.
Mission accomplished? Assuredly so. In G63 form with everything cranked up to 11 – including the power, all 585PS (577bhp) of it – the ultimate G-class is as hilarious as ever but it is hilarity you could now easily live with. The G’s manners, and its cabin, have been transformed, and it’s now comfortable and refined while still being true to what it is.
Nope, that’s not primarily an off-roader (which it’s still very good at) but an SUV hot rod that sticks two fingers up at the world and overwhelms with its intoxicating V8 bellow and unlikely speed. Blasting from 0-62mph in just 4.5 seconds when you are sitting so high behind such an upright windscreen is strange, but also addictive.
It doesn’t point like a sports car – because it is still that tough 4x4 at heart, and has all the right hardware to prove it – but neither does it rock and roll when you press on. Which in fact you do not have to do since one of its unfashionable traits is that it is a beguiling machine to drive slowly. The engine is subdued enough not to annoy but always menacingly burbly enough to suggest a performance explosion is just a toe prod away.