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Mercedes-Benz G-Class AMG engines, drive and performance

2012 - 2018 (change model)
Performance rating: 3.5 out of 53.5

Written by Parkers Published: 6 June 2019 Updated: 6 June 2019

Mercedes-Benz G-Class G63 AMG performance is, in a straight line, superb.

Crammed between the G63 AMG’s chassis rails is a 5.5-litre twin-turbocharged V8. It outputs 537bhp and 760Nm of pulling power, which catapults the G-Class from 0-72mph in 5.4 seconds with a ferocious roar.

Keep your foot to the floor and the Mercedes-Benz will hit an electronically limited top speed of 130mph, although whether you’d want to attempt this or not is questionable due to the car’s somewhat errant handling.

Helping transmit all that power to the ground is a permanent four-wheel drive system, which coupled with the G63 AMG’s substantial tyres delivers plenty of traction.

A rapid-shifting seven-speed AMG Speedshift Plus automatic transmission shuffles up and down the gears effectively, while wheel-mounted paddles allow you to over-ride it if required. There is some shunt through the transmission but, given the amount that’s going on under the car, this is forgivable.

Mercedes-Benz’s Four-Wheel Electronic Traction System (4ETS) is also fitted, which means the G63 come with three fully locking differentials and a transfer case with an off-road “crawler” ratio. Even if only one wheel has traction, this system will keep the G63 moving.

Overall, provided you’ve no corners to deal with, it’s easy to make use of the G63’s power and it never fails to entertain. Throw in a few twisty roads, however, and it quickly becomes frustrating: you have to slow down considerably to take corners.

The Mercedes-Benz G-Class G63 AMG’s handling is, predictably, a little bit of a shambles.

With solid axles front and rear, huge tyres, a tall body, the required weight to flatten a building and enough power to pull one down, the G63 has a lot of physics working against it.

Through corners there’s plenty of grip available but the steering is vague, heavy and lacking in self-centering effort. Responses are slow and the stiff suspension, coupled with the car’s tendency to wander over bumps or ruts, can make keeping the G63 pointing in the right direction more difficult than you’d like.

It’s not all bad news. The G63 AMG, when being sensible, isn’t difficult to drive and it’s easy to position it on the road once you’ve acclimatised to rapidly applying the required steering lock. Judging its size is simple thanks to its boxy design, good visibility and easily identified corners.

Motorway driving is relatively effortless too, but it can become a little boring when you have to continually feed the G63 minor steering inputs in order to keep it tracking straight.

Drivers concerned about the potential for chaos, with so much power and so little apparent control, need not worry too much: the G63 AMG features a range of stability and safety systems that prevent it from flinging itself off the road at an alarming pace.

The G63’s brakes are also powerful, helping you rein in quickly if need be.