The Mercedes-Benz G63 AMG 6×6 is an automotive extravagance, absurdity on 6 wheels. Or, as Mercedes call it themselves: the automotive declaration of independence. Other people would call it an unnecessary waste of (natural) resources, but as Top Gear have shown in their review, there are some very important things you can do with the 6×6. For example: jumping sand dunes, climbing rocks and driving through a swimming pool full of people, which are of course very sensible things to do.
More is always better when it comes to power, and the G63 AMG 6×6 proves that for certain on-road, but mostly off-road activities, the same goes for the number of wheels. But what if you come up short on the € 380.000,- / US$ 525,000 / £ 315,000 excluding taxes Mercedes is asking for this six-wheeled monster?
Well, there are some alternatives for you, which you may be able to pick up for less money than that.
Citroen Cruiser Crosser by Sbarro
In 2007, Espera Sbarro Design School developed an all-terrain concept vehicle with six wheels and a hybrid powertrain based on the Citroën C-Crosser, which in its turn is a rebadged Mitsubishi Outlander. The Citroën Cruiser Crosser features a conventional diesel engine that powers the first two axles and an electric motor that powers the third axle. It can run in full-electric mode, so you can drive it as a Zero Emission Vehicle in the city, if you like. There’s also a removable third row, so you can choose whether you want to bring extra people or haul extra cargo. Unfortunately but not surprisingly, the concept never made it into production. But if you really want it, you could try to contact Franco Sbarro and see if he wants to sell the concept car to you. At least you’ll have some exclusivity, whereas Mercedes-Benz plans to build 20 to 30 of their 6×6’s annually.
Dodge Ram T-Rex 6×6
Way ahead of Mercedes-Benz was Dodge, who created the Ram T-rex 6×6 in 1996. Engineers at Dodge extended the frame and added another axle, together with a bunch of changes to the suspension. Like the G63 AMG 6×6, the Dodge is a true 6×6 with power to all three axles, although 4×4 mode is also possible. Where the Mercedes-Benz makes do with “only” a 5,5 liter V8, the Dodge is powered by an 8-liter V10 engine. Thanks to its two turbochargers, the AMG still has more horsepower, at 544 hp compared to 497 hp for the Dodge. The American takes back some points with its 593 lb-ft (804 Nm) of torque vs. the German’s 560 lb-ft (759 Nm).
The T-Rex was a concept vehicle that was meant to go into production around 2003, but the merger of Mercedes-Benz and Chrysler brought in the Germans, who –Oh, irony- decided to kill the project. Fortunately, an enthusiast Dodge fan decided to build one himself: Dodge Ram 6×6. The estimated value of $ 35,000 is 15 times less than a brand-new AMG 6×6.
Volvo XC60 6×6 pickup
Volvo would probably be one of the last brand you would expect in this list, but they have created and the Volvo XC60 6×6 completely in-house. That includes the matte-black paint finish which isn’t available on customer cars from the Swedish brand.3
For its in-house camera work, Volvo used to operate a V70 with the rear roof removed, but when this needed to be replaced, the engineers in Sweden went all-out: they picked an ordinary XC60 off the production line, removed the roof after the second row and added an extended bed, complete with non-slip deck, and a extra rear axle. It can now carry a full-fledged film unit in the back, together with all their camera gear, while providing enough room inside for a driver and a couple of movie directors, who are able to follow the shots thanks to two seven-inch monitors mounted in the front headrests for live feed.
It must have been a Volvo-engineer’s wet dream to work on this project, and while it’s a one-off for in-house use at Volvo, you might be able to bribe a couple of engineers to build one more for you. Just don’t let Volvo know about it.
Toyota Hilux 6×6 Arctic Truck
The G63 AMG was not the first 6×6 tested by Top Gear, as they have also driven a Toyota Hilux 6×6 by Arctic Truck through the streets of London.
As the name of the Icelandic company that did the conversion might predict: the pick-up truck is specifically designed for expeditions to the South Pole. In normal conditions, the Hilux is a four-wheel drive, powering the two rear axles, with 60% of its torque to the middle axle and 40% to the rear axle. But through a series of differentials, the Toyota can send power to any and all of the wheels in order to generate traction.
The Hilux is powered by a standard 3.0-litre diesel with 169bhp and 265lb-ft (359 Nm), and it still has the standard five-speed automatic gearbox, although the gear ratios have been lowered. Therefore it should be more fuel efficient than the G63; Arctic Trucks estimates the Hilux 6×6 will manage about 1300 km (800 miles) on a 400-liter tank of diesel, which is handy for when the nearest fuel station is 2400 km (1500 miles) away, and across an ocean.
At € 220.000,- / US$ 308,000 / £ 184,000, it’s also less than two thirds of the price of the Mercedes, leaving you with enough change for a regular G-Class next to the 6WD Hilux.
Land Rover Defender 6×6
If you already own a Land Rover Defender, but think it’s just a bit too ordinary, you might want to take a look at the conversions that Foley Specialist Vehicles has to offer. For just € 9.000,- / US$ 12,500 / £ 7,500 including parts and labor they will add an extra axle to your chassis-cab Defender, and for just under double that price, they’ll turn it into a 6×6. Foley has experience in converting Land Rovers and preparing them for overland travel in Africa, where they have a subsidiary. Check out this amazing trip through Africa.
I bet a Defender is a bit easier to repair by an African “butcher” than the AMG, and to be honest, I’m not sure if I would be comfortable leaving a half-a-million dollar car in the hands of an unknown mechanic whose only experience with Mercedes-Benz is likely limited to fixing 25-year old W124 300D’s that are enjoying a not-so-peaceful retirement in the desert after a heavy life as a German taxi.
Range Rover 6×6
But don’t think the Defender is the only 6WD Land Rover. Range Rovers have also been converted into 6×6’s to increase passenger and cargo capacity and off-road ability. And that goes for all generations, there’s even a 6-wheeled, 6-door Range Rover Sport built by a company that can even get you a Range Rover 6×6 convertible!
And if you’re really looking for a bargain 6-wheeled car, look no further than this ad on Cars and Classic.
Although it’s “just” a 6×4, and it needs a lot of work, you can pick it up in Portugal for just € 7.800,- / US$ 10,800 / £ 6,500 and the seller seems anxious to get rid of it. And for the really frugal 6-wheelers among us: the thirsty 3,9 V8 has been swapped for a 4-liter diesel engine. The first owner was a Lord, who would use it to hunt for rabbits and pheasants. Do you see the G63 AMG 6×6 do that? The rabbits will run quickly into their holes when they see a machine that big and that loud approaching.
So, which is your favorite alternative? Or do you still prefer the AMG?