If you’ve never heard of Ares Design, don’t worry, it’s understandable. It was founded in 2014 by Dany Bahar, the former boss of Lotus, and though the design house has been taking commissions for a few months now, Ares has only just now started to build and complete orders. You should get familiar, though, because Ares is doing what so many other modern coach builders can’t seem to achieve. Ares just announced that production of the X-Raid — a coach-built SUV that looks surprisingly, and refreshingly, like a factory-built G-Class model — will begin in its new Modena, Italy factory.
What you get with the X-Raid is a radically reworked Mercedes G63, complete with a 760 horsepower, 5.5-liter, twin-turbo V8 engine. The body itself is made entirely of carbon fiber and aluminum, saving over 400 pounds from the standard G63 on which it’s based. Where the X-Raid truly succeeds, though, is the way it looks like it could fit into Mercedes’s current line up of luxury sedans and family-friendly SUVs, but still go door-to-door with AMG’s top rugged overlanders.
When private design houses get their hands on SUVs like the G-Wagen, they tend to completely bastardize the original vehicle’s style, character and intent. Obnoxiously wide-body kits, massive low-profile tires and unnecessary add-ons run rampant in the aftermarket and custom-builder scene, and the results are usually cringe-worthy. What Ares has going for it is a talent pool made from a mix of former Ferrari, Pagani and Lamborghini staffers who are using state-of-the-art techniques like 3D printing, 3D milling and carbon fiber pressing in conjunction with the old-school principals of classic coachbuilding.
As you’d expect with any custom built G63 with a factory-level design and quality and interior to match, it’s not cheap. Order a brand-new X-raid for $539,000 and you can expect to have it in your driveway in as little as six months.