My Winners Circle short list wasn’t so much about choosing the best vehicle of 2018, but selecting the vessel beneath the year’s most memorable motoring experience. And nothing came close to the cocktail of eye-popping wonder and bum-clenching fear that was my McLaren Senna drive at Estoril, Portugal, in June, before Winners Circle got traction.
Believe me, the heroic 600LT at Hungaroring, Hungary, months later was more enjoyable, less laced in terror. Winners Circle was looming and, by chance, Senna happened to lurk in pitlane for an impromptu reunion. Roll the camera…
Cheating, perhaps, so my fallback was an easy choice: the Mercedes-AMG G63. And for no finer reason than sheer bloody entertainment factor. In my two decades of reviewing motoring, I cannot remember departing from a car launch with a jaw so sore from smiling and a throat so hoarse from laughing.
This fire-breathing, leather-dipped box on stilts that roars toward the horizon with its nose arrogantly cocked in air, commanding attention from observers inside and out, and corners like a slightly drunk ladder-frame truck because, well, it is. Both are facets though not really its point. The ‘G-Banger’ is an agitator. It demands divisive reaction, black or white.
“You might love it, you might hate it, but likely it’ll be both,” I advised Mandy, who took delivery of the G63 prior to Winners Circle. By event’s end she agreed.
And didn’t it serve superbly. Paul was appalled at the lack of a proximity key. Mike describedits fans as “Oligarchs”. Anthony was dismayed after it showed the 911 GT3 its tailpipes in an ‘impromptu grudge match’, depressed after it repeated the feat. And the odd three- or four-up demo blast would send everyone aboard into fits of hysterics. Every time. Guaranteed.
The list of pragmatic reasons why you shouldn’t buy an AMG G63 is encyclopaedic.
The joys it stacks – the clanging doors, rifle-bolt door locks, the thigh-burning side-pipes, the single-hinge tail door, that ridiculous blunt windscreen – must seem utterly superfluous, nonsensical even, to this truck’s many detractors. But it’s really just a big toy, one that taps my naughty inner juvenile, and one that perhaps encouraging shenanigans a bloke my age certainly shouldn’t (and won’t) admit to here and now in any journalistic capacity.
That is, indeed, ‘the point’. When tasked with trudging through motoring’s huge tracts of sensible if increasingly homogenised and often dull landscape, day in day out and wearing the hat of pragmatism, cultivating affection for a fringe-dwelling beehive-belter such as the AMG - or Senna for that matter – is, for me at least, almost inevitable.
I’d have the G63 over AMG’s other big, biturbo V8-powered, all-paw, quarter-mil prospect, the E63 S, any day of the week. Heck, even if the sedan was half its actual price. If only because the truck’s ridiculous and nonsensical joys would cast a might brighter halo across any daily humdrum.
Crazy? Given at the time of writing that the G63 is sold out, pre-Aussie launch, until 2020, it won't be too lonely in the looney bin...