Home / Features / 50 Years of AMG part V – It’s a G Thing!



AMG, the performance arm of German luxury icon Mercedes-Benz, celebrate 50 years. Throughout their lifetime, they’ve given us some fantastic high-performance motoring icons. Needless to say, some of them transcend the realm of the racetrack, and even the road. They also make some fast, dynamically-gifted SUV models, and this time we take a close look at the best of them.

Story: Jim Gorde
Photography: Daimler, Mercedes-Benz

In our previous feature, we saw how AMG have always blended a glorious past with a power-packed present to create future-proof masterpieces of performance. Their outstanding models include the SLS AMG, their first indigenous car, as well as the dynamite four-pot ’45’ line.

Pushing the envelope is somewhat a part of the job in Affalterbach. Sure, it does take commitment and vision to create a car that can set racetracks on fire, or smash barely double-digit quarter-mile times, but making something which packs supercar power, yet offers massive ground-clearance and comes with more than a few sets of locking differentials — now, that’s a different story altogether. Enter the G-Wagen.


‘Geländewagen’ or cross-country vehicle, the ‘G-Wagen’ is the essence, the seed, the Higgs Boson of the luxury SUV line bearing three-pointed stars we see today. What began as a project in 1979 with the G-Wagen quickly branched out into everything from military involvement globally to further generations for varied use; one that even sprouted another axle and set of wheels.

Humble beginnings? Not exactly. Made by hand by Magna Steyr in Graz, Austria, the first-generation G, codenamed 460, included everything from the 230 G that ran a carburetted 2.3-litre four-cylinder petrol engine making just over 100 PS and 170 Nm, and the 250 GD, which had a 2.5-litre five-cylinder diesel producing around 90 PS and 154 Nm. It was available in a choice of short or long wheelbase, as well as a two-door wagon and convertible, as well as a four-door wagon. The production was, and still is, quite limited, at 15 cars per day.

The 461 was a dedicated military vehicle, with the 462 designation being used for the Greek army vehicles manufactured by Thessaloniki-based ELVO. The 461, produced until 2001, also saw the first turbo-diesel being introduced — the 290 GD TD — with a 120+ PS 2.9-litre five-cylinder OM602 engine.

The 463 arrived in 1990, sporting a heavily revised chassis, full-time four-wheel drive, three locking differentials and even anti-lock brakes. This was the start of something grand, quite literally, as this became the foundation of the modern-day G-Class. The 500 GE, in 1993, was the first to pack a V8 petrol engine. The following year, 1994, saw the relocation of the letter ‘G’ ahead of the three digits.

The first AMG G-Class arrived just before the turn of the millennium, the 354-PS V8-powered G 55; a model that cemented its place in the US market and became the chosen one for many a celebrity. A very exclusive, seriously limited G 63 AMG V12 arrived in 2002 — packing a 6.3-litre V12 making 444 PS. The next coming in 2005 saw properly fast G 55 AMG Kompressor, with a supercharged V8 making 476 PS, then a full 500 PS and 700 Nm — immense numbers that rivalled many serious sports cars of the time.

Mercedes-AMG G 63

50 Years of AMG - Mercedes-AMG G 63 web

Still immune to changing fashion trends, the new G 63 arrived in 2013, after the 507-PS G 55 bid adieu. This was one of the biggest changes the 463 had ever seen. Gone was the supercharged 5.5-litre V8 ‘Kompressor’ motor and in came a twin-turbo direct-injection 5.5-litre V8 with 544 PS and 760 Nm, paired to one of the most advanced yet hardcore drivelines on offer: an AMG SpeedShift Plus 7G-Tronic and a transaxle with a set of locking differentials.

Next page – G 63 6×6 and 4×4² >


About the author: Jim Gorde


Deputy Editor at Car India and Bike India.
Believes that learning never stops, and that diesel plug-in hybrids are the only feasible immediate future until hydrogen FCEVs take over.

t: @CarIndia/@BikeIndia
IG: @carindia_mag/@bikeindia/@jimbosez


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