Less than a month after Arnold Schwarzenegger helped pull the wraps off the next-generation Mercedes G-Wagen, the German automaker is back with an even more bulked-up version of the off-road beast.
With a helping hand from the AMG side of the family the new G63 will boast the sort of power that one might more typically expect from a Mercedes sports car, a full 577 horsepower and 627 pound-feet of torque.
“The new AMG G63 brings driving performance to the segment of unadulterated off-road vehicles in unexpected form,” said Tobias Moers, CEO of Mercedes-AMG GmbH.” The vehicle has evertheless reached a completely new dimension in terms of technology with the handcrafted AMG 4.0-liter V8 biturbo engine as well as in combination with the off-road characteristics, the agility and the vehicle dynamics achieved.”
As with the “base” G-Wagen, don’t be surprised if you can’t immediately tell the new 2019 Mercedes-AMG G63 from the model it replaces. Mercedes designers and engineers struggled to decide not only what they needed to change but what they couldn’t. And visually, there initially appears to be little different.
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Yet there’s a lot more going on than might initially meet the eye. During a media preview ahead of the North American International Auto Show last month, Daimler AG CEO Dieter Zetsche pointed out that there were only three carryover parts on the 2019 ute, starting with its door handles. And even though the 2019 G-Wagen’s retro turn signals seem identical to the old models, they actually are designed to collapse into the ute’s fenders in the event of a collision with a pedestrian to prevent injuries.
You’ll be able to spot the 2019 AMG edition thanks to its unique radiator grille, flared wheel arches, side exhaust pipes and wheels of up to 22 inches in diameter.
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With the G63, the old 5.5-liter twin-turbo V-8 has been replaced by a new 4.0-liter biturbo V-8, punching power out to all four wheels through a 9-speed automatic. In normal conditions, the drivetrain is biased to deliver 60% of engine power to the rear wheels – the old model splitting it 50:50 front-to-back — though there are three differential locks that can rapidly move torque wherever needed to maximize grip, on or off-road.
The two twin scroll turbos are mounted within the “V” of the engine block which, among other things, helps minimize turbo lag. On dry pavement it will launch from 0 to 60 in just 4.4 seconds, cutting 0.9 seconds off the old model’s time. Top speed is 137 mph – though that jumps to 149 with the optional AMG Driver’s package.
While performance is the name of the game with any AMG product, Mercedes engineers also have aimed at meeting ever stricter emissions and fuel economy standards. One trick comes with the introduction of cylinder deactivation which, under light loads, lets the engine operate in four-cylinder mode.
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The 4Matic system in the G63 features a newly upgraded off-road reduction gear “for operation on difficult terrain,” the automaker added, especially when “moving on extreme uphill gradients. Unlike many off-roaders, however, you don’t have to stop to switch between low and high range. That can happen at speeds up to 44 mph.
The G63 also features a new AMG-developed adaptive adjustable damping system, as well as the first-ever use of an independent double wishbone front suspension for the big G-Wagen. The rear suspension is a five-link rigid axle package.
The 2019 remake also features AMG’s speed-sensitive steering and, for the first time with any G-Class, there’s the new AMG Dynamic Select system. It allows a motorist to switch a variety of vehicle settings, including shifts, throttle responsiveness and suspension with a touch of a finger. There are five on-road and three separate off-road driving modes.
As with the more mainstream version of the G-Wagen, the 2019 Mercedes-AMG G63 has been stretched 4 inches nose to tail, while it is now 4.8 inches wider and 1.6 inches taller. That translates into a much roomier interior package, backseat occupants getting an extra 5.9 inches in legroom.
We’ll get a first look at the sheet metal on March 6 at the Geneva Motor Show. Pricing won’t be announced until just before the first of the G63 models reach U.S. showrooms late this year.