Small wonder that the Gelandewagen has become such an iconic offroad vehicle, amassing a dedicated fan base since its launch back in 1979.
Then there’s Brabus, the German tuning firm that’s famous for transforming Mercs into soccer-star spec. It has waved its wand over the G-Class, pimping up the range-topping AMG G63 version with a body kit and an angry exhaust, and it’s available for R3-million at Daytona, the purveyors of McLarens, Rolls-Royces and Aston Martins in South Africa, who more recently also became the Brabus official agents. Brabus conversion kits are available as aftermarket fitment for various Mercedes-Benz cars.
The Brabus items on this Gelandewagen comprise 23” wheels fitted with super-wide and low-profile 305/35 tyres, front bumper add-on, front bumper skirt with daytime running lights, black headlights, carbon fibre bonnet attachment, roof spoiler, Brabus badging, and slash-cut sports exhausts jutting out from under the rear passenger doors.
And in case this didn’t make the vehicle stand out enough, our road-test unit was painted bright yellow just to make sure no one can miss it.
Inside, the treatment includes Brabus door lock pins, Brabus-illuminated entrance panels in the doors and boot, and race shift paddles that are seemingly inspired by Ninja throwing-weapons.
The Brabus kit adds around 600 grand to the price of the standard Mercedes-AMG G63.
There are no changes to the 5.5-litre twin-turbo V8 engine, which already produces a snarling 420kW and 760Nm and fires it to the wheels through a 7G-Tronic auto gearshift. But if you feel that’s still limp wristed, you can opt for a Brabus PowerXtra B63-620 chip to hike outputs to 456kW and 820Nm, for an extra cost of R120 000.
In one sense this is a completely pointless vehicle. It has a towering ride height, permanent all-wheel drive, a low range transfer case, and three diff locks, but the uber low-profile tyres ensure it can’t be driven offroad. It’s akin to fitting knobbly offroad tyres to a Ferrari.
Fit for purpose was clearly not part of the design brief here, unless the purpose was intentionally for this vehicle to be quirky and make little practical sense.
That said, this big Brabus is a heap of fun and makes possibly the angriest sound this side of a Nascar. Customers get to choose whether the vehicle comes with or without a muting flap in the exhaust that can be opened or closed at the press of a button.
This one came without it, and the full jurassic roar was in full cry all the time. It’s a loud holler that will irritate your neighbours (if they’re not petrolheads who appreciate such sounds) and can frighten hadedas out of trees two blocks away.
There’s robust power behind that roar, and this heavy hulk leaps off the line in a manner that will embarrass any hot hatch, and a few less-than-alert sportscar drivers too, with a rated 0-100km/h time of around 5.5 seconds.
This much power combined with such a high centre of gravity requires a subtle approach in corners, but though it leans like a school bus those ultra-wide tyres do provide plenty of grip. They also increase the turning effort of this big vehicle though, and even with power assistance it takes some muscle to turn the steering.
Subtlety is not on the menu here. The Brabus G63 is loud and lewd, and a vulgar display of wealth. With those offroad-unable wheels it’s a ludicrous thing built not to make sense but just for the sheer joy and posing spectacle of it. It’s also one of the meanest-sounding vehicles on the road, and you can’t help but crack a smile when you hear it roar.