The noisiest part of this Mercedes-Benz off-road wagon was the squeal from the 37-inch tyres on winding sealed roads in Spain, say photographers from spy agency Automedia.
Rubber meeting the road as the lightly camouflaged prototype G63 AMG Gelandewagen went from one off-road test track to another drowned out the exhaust burble from its twin-turbocharged 5.5-litre V8 engine, they said.
This is the first time the four-wheel-drive G63 has been seen – the big-daddy six-wheel-drive G63 with a pick-up bed hiding two fuel tanks and 159 litres of petrol was launched in the desert near Dubai last year. It was described by Benz as “the last word in forward-thrusting power for the beaten track”.
The 6×6 was quickly dubbed a ‘lunatic’ model, priced at around $US500,000 and aimed only at private buyers like mega-rich oil barons. But professional testers invited by Benz to the desert shindig conceded the 3775kg critter was surprisingly nimble on its six feet.
Now it appears Benz is about to roll out a G63 without a pick-up bed but with a more manageable four wheels and similar spec and private buyer appeal to its bigger brother. It was nicknamed the ‘Green Monster’ or ‘Hulk’ as it was accompanied by a standard G-Wagen on and off roads in Spain.
The 4×4 shares most things with the 6×6, including its 400kW/750Nm V8 engine and 7G-tronic automatic transmission, its low-range gearing, its plush, leather-lined cabin with four seats, and its 12.5-inch-wide wheels and 37-inch tyres. A centralised inflation system allows the driver of both vehicles to adjust tyre pressure to suit the terrain.
But whereas the 6×6 had five electronic differential locks operated by three switches on the dashboards and offering 100 per cent lock-up to all six wheels, the 4×4 is expected to have three such locks to all four wheels. The 4×4 is 4769mm long, 1885mm wide and 1938mm tall; the 6×6 is 5875mm long, 2110mm wide and 2210mm tall.
Both vehicles have the same 460mm ground clearance and 1000m fording depth. Approach and departure angles are 52 degrees and 54 degrees respectively. The 6×6 G63 started life as a six-wheeled version of the G320 CDI built for the Australian army and using a 3.0-litre V6 diesel making around 160kW/400Nm.
- Meantime, Mercedes-Benz has built another vehicle for the rough stuff, this one (below) for protection from terrorists and hijackers rather than what nature can dish up. It’s the bullet-proof version of the S-Class Pullman, spied near the company headquarters in Stuttgart. It’s a reported 6400mm long, has a 2+2+2 seating layout, costs more than $US1m, weighs 5300kg, and is powered by a V12 petrol engine. It can reportedly withstand continuous rifle fire, hand grenades and explosions thanks to its armoured steel body panels as well as the other changes normally found in such a niche vehicle.