While the new Mercedes-Benz G-Class 4×4 Squared was spotted during development, it was never formally announced. There’s no official spec sheet. It’s not even listed on Mercedes-Benz’s website. This thing is a ghost, yet I spent nearly a week in a matte-gold Mercedes-Benz G 63 4×4 Squared. It’s real. It’s outrageously expensive. It’s wonderful.
The Mercedes-Benz AMG G 63 4×4 Squared officially returned in 2022. Since then, Mercedes dealers have been quietly taking orders from well-heeled buyers upon request. For the few who have the means, the G-Class Squared is a more luxurious and even more off-road-capable version of the already accomplished G-Class.
Mercedes G-Class 4×4 Squared brings back the portal axles
The G-Class 4×4 Squared is a Mercedes-Benz G 63 that adds 4.3 inches of ground clearance thanks to trick portal axles at all four corners. What’s a portal axle? The wheels don’t mount to the ends of the axles via traditional hubs. Instead, an additional gearset mounts to the hubs and wheels, creating an offset, which in turn drops the wheels for the additional ground clearance.
The portal axles help create an astonishing 13.8 inches of ground clearance, a 41.3-degree approach angle, a 36.8-degree departure angle, and a 42.0-degree breakover angle. Those wild numbers are among the best available. To put them in perspective, the Ford Bronco Raptor has 13.1 inches of ground clearance, and even more impressive 47.2- and 40.5-degree approach and departure angles thanks to its donut-like 37-inch tires and short overhangs. But the 4×4 Squared bests the Braptor’s 30.8-degree breakover angle by a wide margin. The Rivian R1T and R1S SUV best both with 14.9 inches of ground clearance, in part because there are no differentials to hang down, but it can’t compete in terms of off-roading angles. Just wait for the electric EQG to come along with its four motors, and imagine if the wizards at AMG slap some portal axles onto it. It could boast even better off-road credentials.
Mercedes G-Class 4×4 Squared gets AMG treatment
The first G-Class to get this treatment was the G 550 4×4 Squared, and we thought it was expensive in 2019 at $225,000. Times change, and everything from the price to the horsepower have inflated. The AMG G 63 4×4 Squared I drove was technically a 2022 model with a base price of $349,000. But loaded with options including $6,500 matte-gold paint and a $3,600 AMG Night Package (code for blackout package) as tested, the SUV I took off-roading cost an eye-watering $363,820. Before options, it now starts at $358,150 including $1,150 for destination.
The latest 4×4 Squared uses the AMG G 63’s twin-turbo 4.0-liter V-8 that churns out 577 hp and 627 lb-ft of torque, which is up 161 hp and 177 lb-ft over the G 550 4×4 Squared that used a version of the same engine. Boost is a hell of a drug. It’s hooked to a 9-speed automatic transmission, up two gears from the previous 7-speed, and a full-time four-wheel-drive system with three locking differentials. The rear, front, and center differentials are each engaged with a button on the dashboard. Few production vehicles outside the aforementioned Rivians and Braptor come with this kind of hardware
Mercedes G 63 4×4 Squared can’t be stopped
Standing next to the burbling side pipes of the G 63 in the staging area of Rowher Flats OHV park, I asked friend and fellow auto journalist Jonny Liebermann if I would really need to engage all three lockers today. “Definitely, in one spot,” Liebermann quipped as he continued airing down the tires on his yellow Rivian R1T. Pro tip: It’s always smart to bring a friend with an incredibly capable machine and recovery gear when going off-roading.
Despite our plan of heading up a triple black diamond trail, we didn’t bother airing down the 22-inch 325/55 Pirelli Scorpion All-Terrain tires on the 4×4 Squared because it seemed unnecessary. The chutzpah this Mercedes exudes while just sitting makes most other off-road vehicles seem inferior.
For day-to-day driving, the 4×4 Squared has an AMG-tuned four-wheel-drive system with a 40:60 rear bias. I shifted to neutral and put the 2-speed transfer case into 4Lo, figuring I would engage various off-road modes when needed. But only the five standard drive modes—Comfort, Sport, Sport+, Slippery, and Individual—came up on the screen. Confounded, Liebermann and I tried to find the off-road modes, but we couldn’t. We didn’t know the cheat code.
As we were about to start up the hill sans off-road drive modes, Liebermann, who’s quite familiar with Rowher Flats, suggested I engage the center differential to lock a 50:50 split of power to the front and rear wheels. Suddenly Trail, Rock, and Sand off-road drive modes became available, the electronic stability control system turned off, and the roof-mounted amber running lights on the front and rear carbon-fiber spoilers turned on. Cheat code accepted.
Heading up the triple black diamond trail, the G 63 didn’t break a sweat, but as deep ruts started appearing on the trail I tapped the right-most plastic differential button to engage the rear locker so the Pirellis wouldn’t tear up the earth with all the engine’s available torque.
Every hill, rut, and valley that the yellow Rivian conquered in silence, the 4×4 Squared followed with a low burble.
Then I saw the 135.8-inch wheelbase Rivian porpoise back and forth over a set of deep undulations. Its four motors tried to get the power to the ground as the truck teeter-tottered. Lieberman gave it some throttle and the rear end slid left toward a rock wall on one side while the front slid right toward the other rock wall. My palms got sweaty. That Rivian was Lieberman’s, but this $363,820 Mercedes certainly wasn’t mine. Was I about to tear off this thing’s running boards, side pipes, or rear bumper extension? What would Mercedes say if I slid this thing’s carbon-fiber fender flares into a rock wall?
My fears were overblown. The G 63 4×4 Squared’s shorter 113.1-inch wheelbase, which is 5.3 inches shorter than a four-door Jeep Wrangler’s, prevented the Mercedes from porpoising through this obstacle. The tires clawed at the earth, the suspension extended the tires down into the deep holes, and the Mercedes just continued climbing. No carbon-fiber fender flares were harmed during the traversing of that or any trail. But my blood pressure probably rose too high.
About an hour into our adventure toward the heavens, the G 63 4×4 Squared finally blinked. Going up an undulation with the center and rear lockers engaged, the driver-side front tire started to spin. I tapped the left-most silver differential button to engage the front locker. I felt a click, eased into the throttle, the front wheels grabbed at the dusty, slippery, rock-strewn earth, and the burbling SUV began to move forward as if the undulations didn’t exist. If this Mercedes didn’t have a front locker, I could have used the abundant power to overcome the situation, but that would’ve torn up more dirt.
Upon reaching the summit of the mountain path, Liebermann noted that pretty much no owner will ever do what we just did. What a crime. This machine is built for this.
Heading back down a much easier path I disengaged the lockers and shifted to 4Hi. We picked up the speed and the remote reservoir shocks kept the ride disruptions to a minimum as they absorbed the beating. The ride never tossed me side-to-side, nor did my neck feel tired once we reached the bottom of the hill.
Mercedes G 63 4×4 Squared goes to extremes
When I pulled back out onto the street, the G 63 4×4 Squared drove like a lifted G-Class, with the associated extra body roll around corners. It’s still stable in sweeping canyon roads, though.
Mercedes estimates the G 63 4×4 Squared can sprint from 0-60 mph in about 5.0 seconds, and my butt dyno estimates that’s about right, if not quicker. That’s on the way to an electronically limited 130-mph top speed. It requires some trip planning, though, especially for parking, because the high-riding Mercedes requires 88 inches of clearance, meaning it won’t fit in all parking garages or through all drive-thrus.
Shocking no one, this flying German brick drinks gas. It carries EPA fuel economy ratings of 10 mpg city, 12 mpg highway, 11 mpg combined. Those numbers are seemingly spot on. Over the course of 264 miles of mixed driving, with two-thirds of it on the highway, I averaged 10.8 mpg, according to the trip computer.
Inside, the G 63 Squared is a loaded G-Class with a leather-wrapped dashboard, quilted leather massaging front seats, and a big grab handle on the passenger side of the dashboard. The 12.3-inch digital gauge cluster gets its own 4×4 Squared startup sequence, and the rearview mirror has been swapped for a rear camera mirror. This comes in handy since the massive spare tire blocks the rear view. Exclusive to the 4×4 Squared are a microfiber-wrapped performance steering wheel and matte carbon-fiber trim bits. But the low, flat dashboard and 12.3-inch infotainment screen, which isn’t a touchscreen and still runs the last generation of MBUX, will all be familiar to anyone who has spent time in a recent G-Class.
Small details add up to a different attitude for the exterior. The carbon-fiber fender flares bulk up the look while covering the chunky all-terrain tires. The carbon-fiber roof spoilers are specific to the 4×4 Squared, though the white LED driving lights mounted in the front spoiler don’t function due to U.S. regulations. The amber running lights mounted on the roof spoilers work, but only when the vehicle is in 4Lo. The rear bumper has an extension to meet U.S. crash standards, and it just looks awkward. You’d think the running boards would make getting in and out easier, but they don’t. In fact, they almost get in the way since they are mounted up so high. A carbon-fiber spare tire cover mounted to the rear hatch is there to impress onlookers at any given LA-area Starbucks.
Almost no one outside of the automotive enthusiast realm realizes what the G 63 4×4 Squared is or why it’s special. To most people, this just looks like a lifted bro truck version of a G-Class. It kind of is, but it’s also so much more. The price is absurd, but so is the Mercedes-Benz G 63 4×4’s off-road capability. Mercedes builds the 4×4 Squared in limited numbers and won’t even disclose production figures. If you see one, make a wish.
Money can’t buy everything, but it certainly can buy one of the most capable production off-road vehicles. If you have the means, I highly recommend picking one up and actually taking it off-road.