Look, it’s not a huge secret that Mercedes-Benz’s four-liter biturbo V8 engine isn’t long for this world. Blame it on emissions targets or diminishing performance returns, the V8’s light has faded from compact models already and more models are likely to follow suit in the years to come. However, every great should really go out with a bang, and Mercedes-AMG is kicking off celebrations in a wonderfully preposterous way. The monster truck G-Wagen 4×4 Squared is back.
Sure, there’s no announcement yet on the Mercedes-Benz press site, but if you can get into a special site for G-Wagen owners or find the right unlisted video, the three-pointed star is spilling some details. Let’s start with the obvious: The 4×4 Squared is now a full-on AMG model, adopting the G63 moniker. While this means that overall capability is slightly compromised by the current AMG front bumper, it also makes for some proper numbers. How does 585 horsepower sound? Sure, it pales in the face of something like a Lamborghini Urus, but this jacked-up G-Class would likely teach the Urus about the power of the People’s Elbow and leave it to die on the mountain. More importantly, the old G550 4×4 Squared made 416 horsepower, so we’re talking an extra 169 horsepower here. No small number, that.
Alright, AMG bit done for now, now what about the 4×4 Squared bit? Well, I’m pleased to say that ride height gets a lift courtesy of portal axles present at all four corners, a unique challenge due to the current G-Wagen’s independent front suspension. See, a live front axle doesn’t really have to worry about camber curves or the sheer unsprung weight of portal axles because there’s no camber gain under cross-axle compression and live axles are seriously beefy things anyway. With an independent front suspension setup, unsprung weight stresses the suspension arms while camber is absolutely gained when both front corners are under compression. Still, Mercedes seems to have pulled it off, a very respectable feat.
Back up a second – what the hell are portal axles anyway? Well, typically, if you take off a center cap at the middle of any driven wheel, you’ll see an axle shaft. The shaft goes straight through the middle of the wheel, spinning it through the splined hub that the wheel bolts to. The problem with this is that the height that the axle shaft sits above the ground can be no greater than roughly half the radius of the tire, and just increasing tire size isn’t always a good solution for a number of packaging, handling, fuel economy, and other reasons. You could lift the vehicle’s suspension; this would pull the inboard size of each axle upwards, but then the axles would find themselves at a steep angle, which compromises CV-joint longevity. Other suspension and steering geometry would be out of whack, too.
Portal axles allow you to offset the drive axle (which can remain nice and level) from the wheel/hub centerline, increasing the axle’s ground clearance for better off-road capability.
It’s basically a single-speed gearbox of sorts between the axle and the hub. Portal axles have the cool effect of raising a vehicle while maintaining axle and steering geometry and raising the pumpkin on any live axle they’re attached to. It’s a bit of a complex solution, but it’s rather genius. What portal axles mean for the G63 4×4 Squared is that it can fit huge tires without a huge suspension lift (which, again, could screw with steering/suspension/CV-joint geometry). The tires work with the portals help bring ground clearance to a proper 13.8 inches (351 mm). That’s 4.3 inches more than a standard G63 has to offer, but 3.4 inches (86 mm) less than on the old G550 4×4 Squared.
Speaking of off-road capability, let’s talk wading depth. This G63 4×4 squared rocks 35.8-inch (910 mm) wellingtons, perfect for flood zones, hurricanes, you name it. Yet despite the insane clearance and wading depth, this jacked-up G-Wagen can still climb at a 45 degree angle without tipping over. Honestly, I’m rather curious about ramp travel index, approach angle, departure angle, and breakover angle, but I’m sure those will all be revealed in due time.
Then again, I really doubt that anyone will take this thing off road. The massive wheel arch extensions to fit the new tires are made from carbon fiber, as are the protective body moldings, the spare wheel holder cover, and the light bar on the roof. Come on, nobody’s going to risk marking those up with scratches from branches. Nor will anyone risk scratching the paint. See, the G63 4×4 Squared in these pictures is finished in the same Green Hell Magno as the AMG GT R sports car, one of 40 different colors on tap for buyers to choose from.
I’m still stoked to possibly see one of these out on the street, even if I’ll never see one out on the trail. If I was still eight years old, riding my bicycle through the neighborhood, and one of these rolled by, my jaw would be glued to the tarmac for at least a week. What a statement this makes. The massive ground clearance and Incredible Hulk paint selection create an insane level of presence. Simply knowing it has the serious off-road chops to back up the steroid-injected look feels absolutely good enough.
On the inside, the G63 4×4 Squared also gets some upgrades over the standard model, starting with the rear-view mirror. It’s one of those digital mirrors, a bit useful given the height of the vehicle and obstruction from the spare tire, but still a rather annoying piece of kit. Other touches are more minor, like an engraved grab handle, top-spec leather, and interior customization through the G Manufaktur program. Matte carbon fiber trim and a suede steering wheel? Sure, that’s the sort of thing this program is designed for.
Right, so if you happen to have Scrooge McDuck levels of cash reserves and want to absolutely crush your neighbors with the weight of your hubris, you’re probably wondering how you can get your hands on this beast. Well, Mercedes claims that the G63 4×4 Squared will only be available for a limited time. The old G550 4×4 Squared was only available in America for two model years, so it’s likely that this new 4×4 Squared will be available according to demand but only for a model year or two. As for pricing, Mercedes hasn’t announced numbers yet, but expect an upper-echelon window sticker. The old 4×4 squared started at $225,995 in 2017, and that wasn’t even a formal AMG model.
As wasteful as the 2023 Mercedes-AMG G63 4×4 Squared is, I’d be lying if I said I didn’t absolutely adore it. We’re supposed to be living in the twilight years of internal combustion, why isn’t ever carmaker going completely mad? Sure, sensible family crossovers are perfectly fine, but why not use some of the profits from those to fund the ludicrous dreams of the engineering and design departments? The G63 4×4 Squared is a wonderful caricature of the G-Wagen, it’s Arnold Schwarzenegger rolling up to the Oscars in an actual tank. It’s insane, it’s unnecessary, but it’s the stuff dreams are made of.
Lead photo credit: Mercedes-Benz
From pictures it looks like the portal boxes may be a 2-gear design? If so it gets the added clout of reverse-spinning cv shafts.
I love portal axles, especially on independent suspension designs. Something about the ridiculousness of it.
“Look, it’s not a huge secret that Mercedes-Benz’s four-liter biturbo V8 engine isn’t long for this world. Blame it on emissions targets or diminishing performance returns, the V8’s light has faded from compact models already and more models are likely to follow suit in the years to come.”
Very true for many enthusiast models like the E63 here in America, never to return as we know it between market realities like tighter emissions standards (a la muscle cars in the early ’70s) and supply shortages/”quality issues”. Hell, we’re lucky to see this beast even coming to our non-Canadian shores at all as it was almost cancelled outright for us after a few spy shots in California.
They should advertise it as being very green.
VW busses had portal axles (in the rear) from 1950 to 1967.
I don’t see how that’s such a big thing?
And you could do quite a lot of off roading in them too 🙂
I do *love* that paint colour. I don’t really care about the rest of it.
Portal axels are cool, but not when they’re on something that won’t get further off-road than a gravel driveway.
I wish aftermarket portal axle solutions weren’t so damned expensive in the few applications they are made.
You don’t need 2′ of lift and 44″ tires, you just need enough clearance and some portal axles to get the job done while maintaining a good low center of gravity in comparison.
Agreed! I would love to throw some on my TJ.
I cannot imagine a more useless vehicle could ever be created.
I doubt that any G-wagon sold in the past 20 years has ever been taken off pavement by the original purchaser. As another Autopian member commented, these things are status symbols for the nouveau riche, drug dealers, and residents of oil-rich countries.
I have a neighbor who owns one – an AMG model, with side exhausts. Can you think of anything more ridiculous than low-slung side exhausts on a supposedly off-road truck? He also owns a Porsche Carrera. He’s up to his butt in debt & payments, and I could buy and sell him half a dozen times. I drive a Golf and have no debt (would have bought myself another new Phaeton W12 to replace my first one, but VW stopped importing them).
I’m old enough to remember when seeing a G wagon was exciting because they were gray market oddities. Timeless classic that had been virtually unchanged for decades.
Now they’re fairly common and don’t carry any real panache, so they keep rolling out gimmick models to part fools from their money. I’d rather have an old one.
Well, I’d rather have a Land Cruiser, but if I had to get a Gwagen, I’d rather have an old one.
I remember being in a Home Depot parking lot and seeing not one but two G-wagens. One was a new AMG unit but the other was from the 70’s or 80’s with a diesel and a whole lot of battle scars. I was way more interested in the old one.
I think MB sells plane-Jane G Wagens in other markets, with lower output engines and cloth seats.
I’d love to get one of those were MB to sell them here. Alas all they sell are the blinged up nonsense.
Well I mean, if you’re nouveau riche, you have to blow your wad on SOMETHING. It might as well have portal axles. Me personally, I’d prolly rather have a Bollinger B1. But you know, taste is a very individualistic subject. Another person may go for diamond-studded skateboards. And good for them.
I really hope Bollinger makes it. They are the best looking electric trucks so far.
Bollinger already abandoned the B1/B2 and are focusing on commercial vehicle platforms of some sort. ConEd of NY has one of the B2s for “testing” and showing, as they have some sort of contract for buying vans from Bollinger.
It is a pretty sweet ride, for sure. I’d rather have a loaded “short base” Escalade V and a Lotus out of the same bank account, though.
Too bad they never made an AMG smart car lol
They did make a Brabus one.
I shit you not.
“It’s more luxurious?” If your idea of luxury is bad pleather and plastic badges. “It’s faster at least then?” Nope, because while it has a bit more power, it has a ton of added weight. But hey, a 9.2 second 0-60 for a brand new 2017 hot hatch is… nope, it’s still embarrassingly bad. “Well it’s not that much m-” HAHAHAHAHAHAHAHA it’s fucking £43,000. The standard Fortwo was about £20,000.
Yeah I heard of that, but too bad we never got the turbo in the US smart 🙁