Just weeks after unveiling the all-new 2019 Mercedes-Benz G-class at the Detroit auto show, Mercedes-Benz’s in-house performance sub-brand, AMG, is showing off the work it’s done to the big and brash Geländewagen. The first AMG model, once again dubbed the Mercedes-AMG G63, is a high-performance box that trades its predecessor’s twin-turbocharged 5.5-liter V-8 engine for the latest twin-turbo 4.0-liter V-8. The new engine produces 577 horsepower and 627 lb-ft of torque, gains of 14 horses and 66 lb-ft over the previous G63, and a healthy 161 hp and 171 lb-ft over the standard 2019 G550’s version of the twin-turbo 4.0-liter V-8. A nine-speed automatic transmission with steering-wheel-mounted paddle shifters replaces the prior seven-speed gearbox.
According to Mercedes, the new powerplant provides the G63 with enough firepower to blast from zero to 60 mph in 4.4 seconds—the last G63 we tested needed 4.8 seconds to hit the same mark. Top speed is said to be 137 mph, although opting for the available AMG Driver’s package ups that mark to 149 mph. Either figure bests the old model’s 130-mph top speed.
An On- or Off-road Machine
There’s no chance the new G63 will take to your favorite two-lane as well as Mercedes-AMG’s GT sports car, but the burly brick is certain to be a considerable improvement over today’s truck. Credit the G’s new platform that brings an independent front suspension and a revised live rear axle that connects to the frame by way of a Panhard rod and four trailing links. The G63 also gets AMG-specific adaptive dampers with Comfort, Sport, and Sport+ settings.
Like the standard G550, the G63 has a default 40/60 front-to-rear torque split. And at its core, the G-class remains an off-road tool, with the G63 retaining its less-powerful stablemate’s front, center, and rear lockable differentials and low-range transfer case with 2.93:1 gear reduction.
Black as Night
Aside from its powertrain, the G63 separates itself from the standard G550 by way of its AMG-specific Panamericana grille design, more aggressive front bumper, traditional side-exiting exhaust pipes, and flared wheel arches. Wider wheels cover giant brakes that are squeezed by red brake calipers. An optional AMG Night package brings darker headlamp, taillight, and indicator lenses, along with black-painted exterior items including the side mirrors, parts of the spare-tire cover, the trim within the front and rear bumpers, and the wheels. Inside, all G63s include a flat-bottom steering wheel with a thicker rim.
Those who want to cement their status as early adopters should seek out the special G63 Edition 1, which only is available for the G63’s first model year. Painted in a special Designo matte black, the Edition 1’s distinct details include matte-grey stripes, black 22-inch wheels with red outer trim, and red stripes on the exterior mirror housings. Inside, there’s red stitching on the steering wheel, seats, dashboard, center console, and door panels; red-and-black leather on the seats; carbon-fiber trim with red highlights; and a red hash mark at 12 o’clock on the steering wheel.
If the new Mercedes-Benz G550 is the automotive equivalent of a powerlifter, then the new Mercedes-AMG G63 must be the automotive equivalent of a powerlifter on steroids. If that’s still not strong enough to you, AMG will no doubt go one step farther and once again offer a V-12–powered G65 eventually. We can’t wait to drive that one, or the G63 for that matter, which goes on sale later this year.