The G63 has doors that close with a ‘whump’ so solid-sounding that it can only have been engineered at considerable expense. Its door lock mechanisms are so loud that you could hear them ‘clack’ from a quarter-mile away. It retains a ladder frame chassis, a rigid rear axle and enough ground clearance to trump a Toyota Land Cruiser, even after the biggest model generation revision in the G-Wagen’s 40-year history. It’s a proper SUV and then some — apparently having been engineered to outlast the zombie apocalypse.
It’d need to be an apocalypse in which the petrol pumps had been left on, mind you. At least as far as UK buyers are concerned, there is only one engine on offer in this new G-Class and it’s AMG’s twin-turbocharged 4.0-litre V8, giving this G63 some 577bhp and a whacking 627lb ft of torque.
What's it like?
This is a bigger car in every dimension than the last G-Class, and it has a new mixed-metal body that's both lighter and stiffer than before, under which there is a separate ladder frame chassis. But the old G-Class’s rigid front axle has been replaced by a double wishbone front suspension system, and its recirculating ball hydraulic power steering swapped for an electromechanical rack-and-pinion set-up.
The car has standard steel coil suspension, but that hasn’t prevented ground clearance rising to 241mm and wading depth increasing to 700mm. Meanwhile, the car now offers a nine-speed torque converter transmission with low-range reduction gearing for extreme off-roading, as well as three lockable driveline differentials. It may be lightened, then; but it’s about as far from being a lightweight as it’s possible for a luxury SUV to be.
The G63’s exterior design being such an homage to the G-Class’s time-honoured look, you don’t expect to find the cabin so transformed after you’ve clambered up and then in. Indeed, it’s this interior — with its twin widescreen instrumentation and infotainment screens, its turbine-like air vents and its upmarket mix of materials — that so emphatically answers any lingering doubt that this isn’t yet another facelift of the last-generation G-Class (and there were plenty of 'em).
It simply couldn’t be. This one is notably more spacious, more luxurious, more advanced and more expensive-feeling than its forebear was. So much so that you’d say that the car now feels as modern and upmarket on the inside as it looks eye-catchingly retro on the outside. That can’t be a bad combination for people who want a car that looks like a design classic but isn’t like one to live with.
Or to drive, we might add. The last G-Class was the sort of car to attract you with its outlandish visual character, but then give you reason to repent soon enough with its shuffling, uncouth low-speed ride, its heavy low-geared steering and its unwieldy handling. In this tester’s experience, you wanted to enjoy driving the old ‘G’ quite a lot more than you actually could.