by Mark Stevenson
With the recent debut of the , the birth of a new AMG variant was all but assured. Now, almost a month later, Mercedes has something to offer those who think the new G550 simply isn’t enough: . The G63 and G65 AMG models have been the choice of Hollywood’s entertainment elite for years, providing occupants a commanding view of Los Angeles’ congested highways and city streets as their drivers outmaneuvered Tinseltown’s notorious paparazzi.
The G63 AMG—and the G-Class range as a whole—has also provided something else, in this case for Daimler: massive piles of cash in exchange for considerably little effort. As the G-Class and its high-performance variants aged, sales went nowhere but up. Still, Mercedes-Benz couldn’t reliably cash in on the aging off-roader forever, as Land Rover and other luxury SUV manufacturers have edged in on the G-Class’ turf. Therefore, it was time for Mercedes to start from scratch for the first time in nearly three decades—which is as much a testament to its own longevity as it is to our willingness to buy expensive personal totems of social status and financial wealth.
The new G63 rids itself of the 5.5-liter biturbo V8 its had since the model replaced the G55 Kompressor in 2012. Replacing the old engine beats a brand-new 4.0-liter biturbo V8 to the tune of 577 horsepower and 627 lb-ft of torque—over 60 lb-ft more than the outgoing G63. Peak torque is available between 2,500 and 3,500 rpm in 4.0 liter, allowing the broadsided SUV to sprint to 60 mph in 4.4 seconds, an improvement of nearly a second. While the G63 is limited to 137 mph, those with the need for speed and the cash to make it happen can bump that limiter up to 149 mph by opting for the AMG Driver’s package.
Even with its liter-and-a-half deficit, the new 4.0-liter biturbo V8 is able to make considerably more twist due to Mercedes-AMG’s ingenious turbo arrangement, which places the snails between the cylinder banks. By making the system more compact overall, the new engine is as efficient and clean as one can be that produces over 600 lb-ft of torque. Further aiding the engine in keeping fuel consumption to a relative minimum is the inclusion of a new cylinder deactivation system, while both an ECO start/stop function and gliding mode have been carried over from the prior-generation G63.
The new 4.0 liter sends its power through a new nine-speed dual-clutch automatic transmission, dubbed AMG Speedshift TCT 9G, with multiple shift modes depending on the driving environment. In “Sport” and “Sport Plus”, the transmission engages a double-declutching function for “an even more emotional driving experience,” said Mercedes in its release. The transmission can also skip gears when downshifting for rapid acceleration when needed. Furthermore, the G63’s nine-speed can be switched to manual mode and controlled through steering wheel mounted-paddle shifters. In that mode, the transmission will hold its gear and not automatically upshift when it hits redline.
After the transmission, power is transmitted to all four wheels via the G63’s AMG Performance 4Matic all-wheel drive system, which now splits power 40/60 front/rear versus the 50/50 split of the prior-generation G63. Keeping everything planted is a completely redesigned suspension that uses coil springs at all four corners, an independent double-wishbone suspension at the front, a five-link suspension and rigid axle at the rear, and adaptive adjustable damping as standard. Drivers can control damping levels—“Comfort,” “Sport,” and “Sport+”—through a switch on the centre console.
Three other modes—“Sand,” “Trail,” and “Rock”—give the G63’s tires some extra bite when off-road, and its 9.5 inches of clearance between the ground and rear axle make traversing rocks and stumps as drama-free as possible. However, it’s what’s inside the G63 that really counts. This is an SUV for those who want more of everything, and Mercedes has given it to them. Ergonomically designed seats come with the memory functions one would expect from a six-figure SUV. An optional “Multicontour Seat” package adds massage functions, cooling, electrically adjustable lumbar support, and air chambers that can adjust to make the bolsters stiffer for more lateral support.
The dash is home to analog gauges as standard, but many will option their way up to the high-tech Widescreen Cockpit with two 12.3-inch displays mounted side-by-side to create one of the most opulent instrument display arrangements money can buy. Those screens sit behind a single shared piece of glass for seamless integration with each other. Outside, an all-new body uses high-strength steel and aluminum to increase torsional rigidity by 55 percent and also keep weight to a minimum, though Mercedes hasn’t yet cited a curb weight for the model. At launch, Mercedes-AMG will offer up a special edition of the new G63.
Edition 1 will arrive with a Night Black Magno paint, contrasting grey stripes along its side, and a decorative red stripe around its exterior mirror housings. Additionally, an available AMG Night package brings with it high-gloss black touches and matte-black 21- or 22-inch forged wheels. Pricing will be announced closer to ’s U.S. launch toward the end of 2018.