2017 Mercedes-AMG G63 / G65

The Mercedes-AMG G63 and G65 are the Bash Brothers reincarnated in automotive bodies. They’re effortlessly cool simply for being what they are: old-school players in a new-school world. Nothing about them makes sense, and that’s the whole point. To create these beasts, Mercedes-Benz’s AMG performance division starts with the Geländewagen, a four-wheel-drive military-style vehicle that has been in production as a civilian conveyance since 1979, and transforms it into two outrageously powerful, luxurious, and expensive machines that refuse to follow convention—for better and for worse. They are the boxes that don’t fit into any boxes.

What’s New for 2017?

The changes to the G63 and G65 were minimal for 2017. Mercedes-AMG redesigned the instrument cluster and added the Parktronic parking assistant, Distronic Plus adaptive cruise-control system, and blind-spot monitoring to the list of standard equipment. Minor exterior changes are barely noticeable.

Looking ahead, for the 2018 model year, Mercedes-Benz is overhauling the G-class inside and out and will launch the next generation of the legendary off-roader. But before the curtain is lifted on the new model, Mercedes is giving the U.S. lineup—which is led by the entry-level Mercedes-Benz G550—a big sendoff by adding two special variants: the hypercapable G550 4×4² off-roader and a G550 Limited Edition.

Trims and Options We’d Choose

Trying to apply sound financial reasoning when buying outrageously absurd $100,000-plus vehicles might seem ironic, but there has to be a line somewhere. Or maybe not. The main differences between the G63 and the G65 are their powertrains and sticker prices: a 563-hp twin-turbo V-8 G63 starts at $142,395, and the 621-hp twin-turbo V-12 G65 goes for $221,395. But added power supplies virtually zero real-world performance enhancement and little extra value, considering the G65’s almost $80,000 premium. Even in the realm of the obnoxious and unnecessary, having the bigger badge isn’t worth it. With the cash saved, buyers can make the already loaded G63 their own with things like a $6500 Designo Manufaktur paint job or the $20,000 AMG Performance Studio package, which includes retina-searing paintwork choices. All G63s and G65s come standard with:

• Three lockable differentials
• AMG sport exhaust
• Distance Pilot adaptive cruise control with stop/start capability

Some buyers might spring for higher-end paint and interior trimmings, but the base G63 package is already impressive.

The powertrains in the G63 and the G65 are impressive exercises in brute force, and we applaud AMG for its use of large-displacement engines in both the twin-turbocharged 5.5-liter V-8 G63 and the twin-turbo 6.0-liter V-12 G65. Both trucks pair with a seven-speed automatic transmission that is overactive at times but shifts quickly, preventing it from feeling too clunky.

When the accelerator is depressed, the G63 emits a body-tingling bark. It’s one of the best sounds coming out of any vehicle of any segment or size. The G65’s engine note is less commanding but still offers a pleasing thrum. Off the line, the G63 feels like a stagecoach with a rocket strapped to it. Once it hurdles a slight valley of turbo lag, it lunges with obscene quickness for something that weighs almost 6000 pounds. The swell of power found throughout the power band can feel a bit jerky at times, but it’s too fun and sounds too wonderful to worry about these lesser negatives. The even more powerful G65 is equally absurd, even if it’s not quite as quick—a surprise, given its 621 horsepower and overwhelming 738 lb-ft of torque. Both engines pull hard in rolling traffic and at higher speeds, and the G’s massive profile makes it known that lesser vehicles—which means just about anything that’s not a Ferrari—need to get the hell out of the way.

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