The newest AMG-enhanced G-Wagen hits the street for 2019 with a beefy new drivetrain, re-engineered body, and some subtle design cues hinting at its off-road potential. The legendary, luxury box occupies a realm of its own in the market, though Mercedes has upped the ante once again for the 2019 model year.
The classic boxiness of the Gelandewagen seems unlikely to ever receive any change significant enough to render it unrecognizable. Unlike other models in both the Mercedes-Benz lineup and in the stables of manufacturers across the globe, swooping aerodynamic lines will forever be foreign on this model.
And yet, the 2019 G 63 by AMG does have some nods to the modern world that become apparent with a bit of closer scrutiny. At the front end, grille lines betray a hint of curve that attempts to contain the beefy, bulging engine lurking behind, while LEDs light up a circle around the headlights that mirrors the shape of the Mercedes-Benz logo (as big as ever). Additional details like molded air intakes and louvers that do, in fact, almost swoop up into fender flares—albeit boxy fender flares.
Thankfully, the windshield remains as identifiable as ever, even though its corners do seem to betray a hint of a rounded edge. The windows, too, seem to have acquired a distinctly un-perfectly-square detail in this, what is considered only the second generation of G-Class since its debut in 1990. But despite a few, perhaps, concessions to the contemporary world, the G 63 steadfastly remains another G-Wagen from Germany.
Of course, as a Mercedes-AMG product, this is no regular G-Wagen, and upgrades like AMG-specific wheels, red brake calipers with cross-drilled rotors, and exhaust tips peeking out from the side point to that fact. But just in case the differences didn't set it far enough apart from its lower-spec siblings, plenty of AMG and V8 badges abound the exterior, as well.
Drivetrain & Mechanicals
The biggest change for the new G 63 from Mercedes and AMG comes in the form of its engine. Hand-built in Germany, a 4.0-liter V8 benefits from two twin-scroll turbochargers. For other manufacturers, a single twin-scroll turbo is often referred to as a twin-turbo—but whether a duo of twin-scrolls puts the G 63 on the same level as the quad-turbo Bugatti Veyrons and Chirons is another conversation.
Of course, like the Bugattis, the G 63 wouldn't be complete without power routing to all four wheels—and serious power, at that. The new mill cranks out 577 horsepower and 627 lb-ft of torque, improvements of 14 and 66, respectively. A nine-speed automatic transmission routes that power through an AMG Performance 4MATIC all-wheel drive system that features a 60:40 rear-axle bias to improve acceleration, as well as three separate lockable differentials.
A 0-60 sprint takes the big box a mere 4.4 seconds, on the way to a 137 mile per hour top speed, or 149 mph for those equipped with the AMG Driver's package. While off-roading, three specific drive modes complement five on-road selections available in the AMG DYNAMIC SELECT programming—be it Sand, Trail, or Rock, all that power and a new bodyshell constructed out of steel and aluminum (with a claimed 55 percent rigidity improvement) should make a wondrous combination.
Steering is by way of a new, variable-ratio rack-and-pinion system, and the brake rotors measure 15.7 inches up front at 14.6 inches at the rear. The exhaust system is also active, with settings like Balanced and Powerful to help the big V8 exhale all those gasses being pumped in by the twin twins up front. Ground clearance for the AMG is actually reduced from lower-spec stablemates, to 9.4 inches.
Interior & Tech
Like Land Rovers, Mercedes-Benz's G-Series has come a long way from the spartan off-roading cubes of their early days. Contemporary buyers are equally, if not more, likely to be high-end luxury consumers rather than rugged off-roaders, and the G 63 caters to its clientele nicely. Two 12.3-inch displays make up the instrument cluster and the Comand infotainment system, though the upright windshield makes a head-up display unfeasible.
Carbon fiber trim and cladding is fitted to just about every surface, complemented by contrast stitching and Alcantara where the nanomaterial ends. Seats are sporty up front though a bench makes up the second row, while a flat-bottom steering wheel complete with red 12-o'clock taping further points to the G 63's aggressive potential. From the cockpit, the driver can change gears, adjust the suspension damping, select between eight drive modes, and lock the differentials at will.
Pricing & Buying
The Mercedes-AMG G 63 ups the ante for the G-Wagen significantly, starting at $147,500 with a destination and delivery fee on top. For context, the current G550 starts at $124,500 but is available now, while the G 63 should hit these shores early in the new year. Meanwhile, the S 63 sedan which shares the G 63's powerful engine only costs about $2,000 more—though its off-roading potential has yet to be tested. Of course, checking all the options boxes on any of these high-end luxury products is liable to test the wallet, as well.
The G-Wagen's style sets it in a class of its own, especially now that Land Rover has put the Defender on the shelf (or have they?) for a few years. But plenty of other high-spec SUVs have hit the streets in the last few years, though most are either much more affordable or priced another step up the ladder. Land Rover's Range Rover and Discovery start at around $90,000 and $55,000, respectively, while the Bentley Bentayga and Lamborghini Urus are up over $200,000.