Car Comparison Tests Paris

1973 Icon FJ44 vs. 2016 Mercedes-AMG G65

Big SUVs, Bigger Money

Big SUVs, Bigger Money

When the Bentley Bentayga arrives at dealerships, its base price will be $229,100 USD. In justifying a house-priced SUV, Bentley CEO Wolfgang Drheimer famously said, “At present if you want to buy a really expensive SUV, you can’t.” Not so fast, Wolfie. The as-tested price of this brown Mercedes-AMG G65 is $222K USD, an option or two away from the big Bentley. There’s also the Icon FJ44, which costs, well: “How much does the G-wagen cost?” Icon head honcho Jonathan Ward asked. “OK, that’s what ours costs, too.”

Before we answer the obvious yet plebian question—are these two worth the money?—let’s discuss what you get for all that scrilla. In the case of the AMG, you get Mercedes’ tried and true Gelndewagen. The body-on-frame beastie has been stuffed with AMG’s hand-built M279 6.0-liter, twin-turbo V-12 that makes 621 hp and 738 lb-ft of torque.

The FJ44 started life as a 1973 Toyota Land Cruiser and has since been completely reimagined by Icon. The only parts that remain are the hood and the chassis plate. The rest of the body is powder-coated aluminum. Noted hot rod frame builder Art Morrison constructed the custom frame. This FJ44—the Petersen Special, as it will be spending the next six months in the Petersen Automotive Museum—sports a 6.2-liter GM E-ROD LS3 V-8 fitted with a Magnuson supercharger. Power is estimated at 540 hp and 495 lb-ft.

In the sprint to 60 mph, the FJ44 needs 5.7 seconds. The quarter mile is over and done with in 14.4 seconds at 93.9 mph (151 km/h). Pretty good acceleration for a body-on-frame anything and a tick better than a CVT-equipped 2015 WRX (5.8 seconds to 60 mph, 14.5 seconds at 96.7 mph (156 km/h) in the quarter). Braking in the non-ABS Icon is not so good: 146 feet from 60 mph. The V-12 G hits 60 mph in 5.2 seconds and runs down the quarter in 13.7 seconds at 103.7 mph (167 km/h). Braking from 60 mph happens in a decent 114 feet. We figure-eighted both vehicles and recommend that you don’t. The AMG has undefeatable stability control that resulted in a poor lap of 30.5 seconds. For comparison, a Ford F-350 dually needs “only” 30.2 seconds to do the same. The Icon—which testing director Kim Reynolds described as “terrifying”—was a bit fleeter, needing 29.1 seconds.

Whatever deficits these two had on our handling course were immediately forgotten once we took them off-road. Yes, yes, we know. No one takes $200K USD-plus SUVs off-road. Except us. These two are spectacular. Transfer cases and locking differentials (two ARB air lockers in the case of the Icon, three mechanical lockers for the G65) mean we could not find an obstacle these two couldn’t handle. Trust me, we looked. Is either big-dollar SUV worth the money? As F. Scott Fitzgerald and we are fond of saying, the rich are different from you and me. If I were rich, the Icon FJ44 would be parked next to my G63, not G65.

Read about the G550 right here: Jeep Wrangler Unlimited Rubicon vs. Mercedes-Benz G550 vs. Toyota Land Cruiser.