Mercedes loves the rolling-barn anachronism that is the G-Wagen, and it really loves cranking out bonkers special editions of the stalwart beast.
Witness, for example, the G63 AMG 6x6, a pickup-truck-ified G-Wagen on 37-inch tires with a third axle grafted on the back for good measure.
Last week, Mercedes teased us with images of the G 500 4x4², a mathematically-puzzling name for a concept that looks a lot like the 6x6 minus a pair of wheels. And with this new hype video showing the brazen bruiser in action, we're cautiously optimistic that this might become a very limited-production reality.
Our pals over at , and we like what they had to say. The jacked-up off-roader rides on portal axles, which raise the differentials above the centerline of those 37-by-12.5-inch mudders on 18-inch bead-lock wheels. All in, the nuclear-green truck has a massive 17.7 inches of ground clearance—and stands a full 88.6 inches high at its tallest point.
With a track width nearly a foot wider than the stock G 500, the 87.2-inch-wide behemoth is said to be as stable as its more reasonably-proportioned little brother, while offering nearly 40 inches of water fording depth. Street-friendly 325/55 tires on 22-inch wheels make for a slightly (laughably) more streetable option for rolling stock.
Underhood, where you might expect , there's a much more reasonable (relatively speaking) twin-turbo 4.0-liter V-8, cranking out a very respectable 416 horses and 450 lb.-ft. of torque.
And that part right there is what makes us think this bizarro beast could be headed for production. See, the main thing that's killing off traditional body-on-frame off-roaders—like the beloved, soon-to-be-departed Land Rover Defender—is the increasing stringency of emissions standards. Those big, low-stress, naturally-aspirated V-8s that powered these brick houses for so many years just can't keep up with modern requirements. By fitting a smaller, modern, twin-turbo powerplant to this concept, Mercedes seems to be hinting at production viability.
The G-Wagen has a rabid following among image-conscious one-percenters and off-roading geeks alike. Mercedes sold 14,000 of the uber-expensive tanks in 2014, and considering most of the engineering costs on the platform were paid off three decades ago, you can assume a hefty profit margin is built into every one of these hulks. Mercedes has plenty of reasons to keep building the G-Wagen forever—and limited-run special editions like, say, a portal-axle off-roader in Electric Pee Pee Green, help maintain interest in the model as a whole.
And lest we think this G500 4x4² is too crazy for Mercedes to build, consider this: The company has reportedly sold out of the bonkers 6x6 G-Wagen, having built 100 of them for (extremely well-heeled, possibly maniacally unhinged) public consumption.