Hip to Be Squared: Mercedes Continues to Consume the World's Supply of Portal Axles

Matthew Guy
by Matthew Guy
hip to be squared mercedes continues to consume the world s supply of portal axles

If there’s one thing on which the moneyed set can be counted, it’s to do everything in the extreme. Witness the Mercedes-AMG G 63 4×42, an immensely powerful SUV with portal axles which will surely see duty on the mean streets of Beverly Hills.

You remember the 4×42, right? It was a Mercedes moonshot that used portal axles to tuck more of its oily bits up out of harm’s way compared to a standard off-roader in order to provide maximum ground clearance. Naturally, it quickly became a darling of Hollywood despite its ability to successfully tackle the toughest legs of Dakar. Today, the company showed pictures of a new Mercedes-AMG G 63 4×42, tucked away on a dusty corner of its media website.

Tellingly, they describe it as “the last of its kind”, hinting that those of us who like our 4x4s all greasy and gasoline-powered need to get in on the action before the showroom turns electric by the end of this decade. Indeed, combined fuel consumption for this beast is listed at 20.1 L/100 km, which converts to roughly 11 mpg in Freedom units (expect far less in town). Swilling that fuel is a bi-turbo V8 engine making 585 horsepower fed to the ground through a permanent all-wheel-drive system.

Speaking of, if you’re wondering why this author is making such a fuss about portal axles, it’s down to the fact that they’re absurdly over-engineered pieces of kit and are highly prized by off-roaders. To massively oversimplify and undersell their construction, they basically use a series of gears and a housing on the ends of an axle to raise its centerline and diff relative to the wheel mounting surface. The wheel hub on yer pickup truck is generally on the same plane as its rear differential. Not with portal axles.

How much more? The machine on these digital pages has nearly 14 inches of ground clearance, a ramp angle of 40 degrees, and can ford water up to nearly three feet deep. This G Squared’s independent suspension helps matters, to say nothing of those portal axles. For comparison, an F-150 Raptor has 13 inches of ground clearance under its trucky frame, while the typical urban-oriented crossover usually has between 7 and 8 inches. Mercedes will surely ladle needless extravagance onto this G, especially if it’s the last of a breed. Expect the likes of 22-inch wheels, carbon elements along the body, and roof ladders which will never be used by most owners.

Expect to see these brutes, with an estimated price tag north of a quarter-mil, prowling tony areas of the country by the end of this year.

[Images: Mercedes-AMG]

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5 of 31 comments
  • Polka King Polka King on Jun 16, 2022

    Portal axles...wasn't the Volkswagen Thing like that?

    • Bullnuke Bullnuke on Jun 16, 2022

      VW Type 2's prior to 1968 used portals with reduction gearing (either 1.39 to 1 or 1.26 to 1) to help move a loaded bus uphill with a tiny 1200 cc or 1300 cc engine.

  • Stuki Stuki on Jun 17, 2022

    Am I just being a needlessly dense and old fashioned Fudd, by wondering how the heck one combines portal "axles" with "independent suspension", without first, at a minimum, breaking those fancy portal axles in half?

    • See 1 previous
    • Stuki Stuki on Jun 19, 2022

      @Lou_BC The Humwee has independent suspension. No live axles at all. The military version does attach driveshafts to the wheels at the top of the wheel, like what is done on portal axles. Both for reduction and ground clearance. Not sure if that is also true for the civilian version Ahnold used to knock mirrors off of parked cars with, back in the day.

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