Performance Cars

2019 Mercedes-AMG G63 brings 577 hp to Geneva

With a biturbo V8 and three locking differentials, the AMG G63 will kick butt both on and off road.

Mercedes-Benz

Well, that didn't take long. One month after pulling the wraps off its brand-new G-Class, Mercedes spills the beans about the G's first AMG variant. And my goodness, it's marvelous.

Meet the Mercedes-AMG G63, a boxy, blingy, boisterous beast. It uses the same 4.0-liter biturbo-charged V8 as the standard G550, but output is increased to 577 horsepower and 627 pound-feet of torque -- healthy gains of 161 hp and 177 pound-feet over the base G-Class, or 14 hp and 66 pound-feet more than the outgoing G63.

Combined with a nine-speed dual-clutch transmission and 4Matic all-wheel drive, Mercedes says the AMG G63 will sprint to 60 miles per hour in just 4.4 seconds. That's nearly a full second quicker than the previous G63. Top speed? 137 mph, or 149 mph with the optional Driver's Package. Not bad for something with the aerodynamics of a phone booth.

As for the 4Matic AWD system, Mercedes says it now defaults to a rear-biased 40:60 torque split, rather than the neutral 50:50 of the outgoing G63. When the going gets tough, the AMG G63 ought to be tremendously capable off-road -- when fitted with the proper tires, anyway. It has the same trio of locking differentials as the standard G550, with a low-range reduction gear with a 2.93:1 ratio, increased from 2.1:1 in its predecessor.

The G63 is a tremendous off-road machine. That's important if your favorite shopping mall is on top of a mountain.

Mercedes-Benz

Mercedes redesigned the G-Class' suspension for 2019, and this should pay dividends in on-road handling. There's now a fully independent front suspension and coil springs at all four corners, with adaptive, adjustable dampers standard on the G63. What's more, the new G uses electromechanical, speed-sensitive steering, which is a huge upgrade over the old-school recirculating ball setup of the outgoing model. This will definitely result in vastly improved road manners -- not to mention better communication to the driver.

As for how it looks, well, I'll let you form your own opinions. Suffice it to say, the G63 certainly has more visual aggression than the standard G-Class, with big air intakes, huge wheels (22-inch rollers are available) and Mercedes' Panamerica grille with vertical slats, reminiscent of the AMG GT. The matte silver brush guard and optional front bars are a bit of overkill, but then again, so is the whole damn car. Go big or go home.

The G63's interior is a huge upgrade over the previous model, with higher quality materials and far better technology. A pair of 12.3-inch displays serve as the instrument cluster and infotainment display, both of which are controlled by the thumb slider pads on the AMG-specific steering wheel. There's a central knob for the COMAND infotainment interface on the center console, as well. And hey, real cup holders! That's a big deal in the G-Class.

Huge display screens, leather-wrapped everything and, for the first time, honest-to-goodness cup holders. The new G is as civilized as it is capable.

Mercedes-Benz

Speaking of big deals, the rear compartment gets a huge upgrade in terms of passenger space. Rear legroom grows by almost 6 inches compared to the old G63, with small gains in shoulder- and elbow-room also aiding in back-seat rider comfort. Cargo space takes a tiny hit, but there's still a hugely usable space behind the rear seats.

Like the standard G550, the G63's enhancements don't dramatically change the overall character of the G-Class. It's still a force to be reckoned with off-road, but let's be honest, you've got a better chance of seeing a G-Class -- especially an AMG -- in Beverly Hills than off the beaten path. That in mind, the improved luxury and technology, not to mention on-road manners, will make the G's target customers delighted.

Look for the AMG G63 to officially debut on March 6 during the Geneva Motor Show. Pricing will be announced near the G's on-sale date in late 2018.