Just one month after unveiling the 2019 G-Class, Mercedes dropped the first AMG iteration of the model during the 2018 Geneva Motor Show. However, if at the time the G 63 AMG was just sitting there to be admired, now it was time to actually see what the timeless design off roader is actually capable of.
It’s been 40 years since Mercedes released the first G-Class. Back in 1979, the off-roader presented itself as a rough military vehicle capable of sustaining heavy damage and still climb steep hills, run through deep mud and heroically carry soldiers to safety. It was a heavy car and the original V8 engine only provided about 75hp.
Once again, that was 40 years ago. Fast-forwarding a few decades, it comes into realization that Mercedes did one hell of a job optimizing the iconic SUV through the years. By keeping all the best parts of the G-Class and constantly improving the downsides, the German brand reached an epitome of mechanical beauty, ruggedness and efficiency.
The second generation G63 is bigger in size, less in weight, stiffer and faster than the previous model. Here are the best parts, laid down.
When looking from the outside, it’s rather difficult for the untrained eye to spot the subtle differences between the old and the new-gen G63 AMG. There’s a tad more visual aggression compared to the smaller, less powerful G500 as the G63 AMG boasts bigger air intakes, 22” wheels and the specific vertical slated Mercedes Panamerica grill reminiscent of the AMG GT.
Optionally, buyers can choose the silver brush guard and front bars. These may sound like an overkill; however, we’re talking about a whole damn car that’s overkilling its purpose (and on a personal note, the competition).
Beneath the visible bodywork, there’s a stout ladder chassis, proving Mercedes is still looking to provide an actual off-roader that can also run on tarmac, compared to most of today’s SUVs (Cayenne and Q7, I’m looking at you). The frame stands as the lowest point of the overall construction, allowing the G63 AMG to benefit from a low CoG (Center of Gravity) and also shield the fuel tank and the exhaust system when traversing over (or through) obstacles.
One of the main targets of the new G63 AMG was to reduce overall mass. By integrating aluminum into the fenders, doors and hood and switching to laser-welding instead of spot welding, Mercedes engineers managed to shed off no less than 155 lbs. Furthermore, despite the considerable weight reduction, the chassis is now 55% stiffer compared to the previous generation.
The increase in stiffness and torsional rigidity is designed to greatly benefit handling dynamics. And, without a doubt, the new G63 AMG does handle way better as we are about to see next. However, let’s have a look at the interior design first.
Plenty of leg room, head room and elbow room
The second-generation G-Class is 4 inches longer, 4.8 inches wider and 1.6 inches taller. This translates in extensive room for both the front seat occupants as well as for the rear seats. It’s not everyday that you see a 6’6 man still having plenty of head room while comfortably seated in an all-leather environment.
Seats are foldable to 40, 60 or 100 percent, allowing for extra cargo space. The front seats come with a ton of adjustments, including automatic electric lumbar adjustment. Air chambers within the seats inflate and deflate continuously according to the dynamics of the car.
As far as infotainment goes, there’s a vast 12.3-inch display serving as both instrument cluster and infotainment display. The AMG-specific thumb slider pads are also found on the 2019 AMG G63, controlling the whole infotainment system. Alongside, a center-placed knob takes control of the COMMAND interface found on the mid-placed console.
One more critically important element: the 2019 G63 AMG comes with real, actually usable cup-holders!
The overall interior design of the G63 AMG doesn’t stray very far from the G500 model. However, the subtle changes are present enough to let you know you are driving the more special and higher-spec unit of the lineup.
Power! Lots of it!
Before discussing any power numbers, let it sink in that the 2019 Mercedes G63 AMG weighs no less than 2.5 tons, including weight savings! Now, imagine a 2.5-ton monster swooshing from 0 to 60 mph in only mid 4’s.
Once you go full-throttle, the 4-liter biturbo V8 drops all of its 577hp and 627 lb-ft of torque through the 9-speed automatic gearbox. It’ll jerk hard enough to wake up even the heaviest sleeping passenger. Top speed is limited at 137 mph or 149 mph when choosing the Driver’s Package. Given the fact that the car has the aerodynamics of a wheeled box, the numbers are more than decent. And while you’re spending about $150,000 for the car, you might as well include every option the Germans will let you add in the mix.
The revised 4-liter engine comes with heavy gains compared to the previous generation. The 2019 G63 AMG packs in an extra 161hp and 177 lb-ft of torque over the standard G-Class.
Mercedes’ 4MATIC AWD system is where the actual magic happens, especially when it comes to off-roading. There’s a 40:60 torque split and a trio of locking differentials accompanied by a 2.93:1 reduction gear. Accompanied by the right tires, the G63 AMG can conquer even the most difficult slopes.
A number of electronic aids come in handy to match the off-roading mechanical capabilities. For example, the “Slippery” mode locks the first differential, then allows further selection of either Sand, Rock or Trail mode to fine-tune suspension, transmission and steering settings accordingly. Water-fording sensors makes sure to seal the low-placed engine air intakes when you go dashing through puddles or flooded areas.
For the moment, the G63 AMG is only offered with the gas powered V8 unit. Rumors have it, Mercedes will release a diesel version in early 2019. The diesel unit is likely to be more affordable and better accepted by the global customer base, given the copious amounts of fuel guzzled by the V8.
If there was one area where the previous generation G-Class lagged behind competition, it was the overall road handling. It appeared at the time that the off-road conqueror can’t comfortably handle the flat asphalt. And while it’s more likely to see the G63 AMG cruising Rodeo in Beverly Hills rather than a negotiating a Utah mountain trail, this proved to be a major turndown.
Thankfully, things have changed dramatically. With the fully independent front suspension and adaptive dampers on all four wheels coming as standard on the G63, the SUV handles infinitely better compared to its older self. A new addition to the driving-aid army is the electromechanical speed-sensitive steering. The system replaced the old and outdated recirculating ball setup that Mercedes insisted on keeping for way too long on the previous generation models. Steering is lighter and makes the car more maneuverable while also boosting driver feedback.
Conclusion: Not what you might expect
In a world full of asphalt-hugging, rock-fearing, soft SUVs, the 2019 Mercedes AMG G63 stands out like a pearl. There are plenty of cheaper, faster and more appropriate choices out there for those looking to buy a road-only car.
However, when it comes to venturing off of the paved route, the G63 is the choice. Just take it through the dirt, rocks and mud and have fun. Then, return onto the road and continue driving in comfortable style like nothing ever happened. The mud splashes will come off during the first wash.
Mercedes managed to keep the G-Class legacy intact. While adding modern elements into the mix, the G63 AMG remains faithful to its roots.