AMG hill climb: Drive to Bhor Ghat in a Mercedes-AMG G 63
Enough. The oxford dictionary defines the word thus ‘As much or as many as required’. In the very next line the same lexicon says that the word is also used to indicate that ‘one is unwilling to tolerate anymore of something undesirable’. It is this latter connotation in which I use this word. Enough. One more day of dull grey skies shedding its load of excess water vapour would have driven me mad. Three weeks of incessant precipitation was more than what my nerves can take. I start missing the bright sunshine and the warmth of sunlight. I miss the crispness of clothes dried in bright sunlight, hating the dampness that seems to stick to our wardrobes throughout monsoon. But most of all, I miss colour. So, when the sun finally broke through the thick bank of clouds, lifting the pall of grey that had hung over Pune in a never ending gloom, I decided to add some more colour to our lives with the Mercedes-AMG G 63 Crazy Colour Edition.
From a distance, this mad green SUV seems like an unlikely AMG. The common perception of a fast car is a low slung machine that will cut through the air like a hot knife through butter. This… well, this is an SUV that stands tall at nearly two metres! Perceptions be damned, I say don’t judge a book by its cover. Certainly not this one. The G-Wagon as the Mercedes-AMG G 63 is fondly called, shares its platform with the same 4×4 off-roader that moves the Bundeswehr – the German Army. To say that it’s a capable off-roader would therefore be a slight to its capabilities for this vehicle was designed to create roads where none exist. Look at that ground clearance. You don’t need Mercedes to tell you that short of a giant boulder, little can stop this beast when it starts moving with purpose. You sit tall in the leather upholstered cabin with a commanding view of the road ahead, all set to conquer everything in your path.
To conquer everything in your path however you need to be really powerful and power is certainly not in short supply in the Mercedes-AMG G 63. Under that flat old-school cool bonnet is a 5.5-litre V8 bi-turbo petrol engine with a humongous 563 brake horsepower and an axle twisting 760Nm of peak twist force. To channel this enormous grunt, Mercedes-AMG has employed the seven-speed 7G-TRONIC automatic gearbox. Shooting off from the block, this boxy SUV can breach 100kmph in 5.4 seconds flat! That’s sportscar territory if I’m not mistaken. So, SUV though this may be it clearly has the soul of a low slung sportscar. A characteristic I love but in this one case, this has also complicated my life. How do you do an ordinary hill climb with a vehicle that has such a wonderfully split personality that can only create disorder in the ranks of rivals? Answer is, you can’t. So, in deference to this duality of nature, we decided to do something offbeat. Instead of heading for one of the known hill climbs we took the vehicle to a lesser known one and then used that duality to find climbs that were nigh unknown.
If you’ve been following the Indian motorsport scene you’ll know that at least one rally route has passed through the Bhor ghat, less than 55km away from our home base in Pune. Leading up to the Bhatghar dam and the consequent large lake, the route is actually a well-surfaced narrow two-lane road that transforms itself into the sweeping climbing bends that is the Bhor ghat. You can even stop at the pinnacle, which is actually a fantastic right-handed U on the way up, for a magnificent view of the valley below, in all its rain washed luminescent splendour. Past the U there’s a fabulous couple of switchbacks involving rapid changes of direction. It’s a testimony to Mercedes’ engineering that despite its height the Mercedes-AMG G 63 doesnot come undone on this set of rapid esses heading downhill. The steering is nicely weighted and provides precise feedback for you to dial in just the right amount of lock to carry you through. The section is small but thoroughly enjoyable. Enjoyable enough for me to go up and down more than a few times, chased by the glorious rumbling roar of the German V8. It’s addictive.
Past the bends the road straightens out, passes over a couple of bridges that span two dry river beds that are in monsoon spate. The rush of water and the rumble of the exhaust clash briefly each time before I’m left alone again. To get to the water’s edge I simply have to carry on straight through Bhor town, cross a small roundabout, stay on course for about 20km before turning right. I decide against it. Where’s the fun in heading to a known location with an SUV that begs you to explore beyond the ordinary?
At the junction up ahead I hang a right instead of carrying on straight. Google, corroborated by the Mercedes-AMG G 63’s in-built accurate sat-nav, this should take me right to the edge of the same lake. But on the other side. Besides the map also tells me there are more hills to be scaled along this route. So, right it is.
The road turns even narrower and for a brief few seconds I feel like I might have made the wrong judgement call but soon the road widened out a bit, and it got twisty. Here was a road, somewhat dubiously surfaced on occasion but largely fine, not much used, judging by the scarcity of traffic and lined with vegetation of a colour that could have given the Mercedes-AMG G 63 a run for all of its Rs 2.08 crore asking price. Life couldn’t be greener.
While I’m still marvelling at what a great stroke of good fortune that right turn was proving to be, I find myself on a flat top with the wide expanse of the lake to my left. The beauty of the landscape is breathtaking. I have seen photos of lakes in Scotland look less picturesque. Trundling along, still taking in the scenery, I reach a fork in the road. One goes down, the other one straight ahead. I take the one less travelled by… okay, poetry aside, I just drove the big brute of an SUV down the path that looked like it would take me to the shores of the lake. This Mercedes-AMG will let you do that in a way you simply can’t even imagine with some other sexy sportscar. Turns out I am mistaken because after skirting the banks of the wavy waters the lane heads into a hamlet. A dilemma then. Should I carry on or should I turn around? The latter, I decide. A fresh dilemma follows – how? The SUV is big and the lane narrow. The sight of a small rock strewn clearing, lights up a bulb in my head. I am after all in the mother of all 4x4s. I promptly put her off the tarmac and into the clearing. A U-turn is easily done when you have this beast as your vehicle. Back at the fork I try out the other arm. This one leads me to another grassy knoll with a pool of clear rippling water. I again get off the tarmac and park the Mercedes-AMG G 63 on the green patch and get out to stretch my legs. Standing five feet away from this magnificent beast, I suddenly realise why this, the Mercedes-AMG G 63 is unlike any other vehicle in the Mercedes-AMG line up. This will let you find your space where none existed and allow you to picnic after a fabulous hill climb. And therein lies the charm of this insane vehicle that is the Mercedes-AMG G 63 Crazy Colour Edition.