The AMG G63 is still about performance but the company insists it has given it more off-road ability too. Picture: SUPPLIED
The AMG G63 is still about performance but the company insists it has given it more off-road ability too. Picture: SUPPLIED

The new Mercedes-Benz G-Class seemed to have everything it needed for a new generation of off-roading when it was launched at January’s Detroit motor show.

But the engineers at AMG looked at the G500 and saw it needed more. More power, more torque, more grip, more speed and more cost. And more side pipes. Big, chrome-tipped side pipes exiting right underneath the rear doors. Subtle the G63 AMG ain’t.

Less visually successful is the awkward massaging of the flat-looking GT coupe’s grille philosophy into the vertical-looking G-Class’s nose. The vertical slats of the GT’s grille, reflecting Benz’s Panamericana successes, serve to make the G63 AMG look even more vertical, while bending the grille out at the bottom just looks strange.

A new AMG has followed quickly behind the donor model from Mercedes-Benz. Except it’s not that simple this time, with AMG involved in the G-Class’s development from its earliest sketches. The G63 AMG looked to have been given the full treatment, with AMG boss Tobias Moers determined to protect his firm’s phenomenal percentage of the outgoing model’s mix.

There are a few AMG touches in the interior. Picture: SUPPLIED
There are a few AMG touches in the interior. Picture: SUPPLIED

It will arrive at March’s New York motor show with a 430kW and 850Nm version of the biturbo, 4.0l V8 petrol engine — a variant of the high-performance powerplant from the GT coupe.

It will mate this with a version of Benz’s nine-speed automatic transmission, tweaked by AMG for faster, crisper gearshifts with double de-clutching in Sport and Sport+ modes. Its multiplate clutch centre differential has been programmed to make the car behave as more of a rear-driver, with 60% of the torque directed to the rear axle.

Benz claims the G63 AMG will hit 100km/h in 4.5 seconds and stretches up to a 220km/h top speed. The AMG Driver’s Package lifts that to 240km/h, a point at which it’s pushing more air than an elephant in a Heinz factory.

It retains the core G-Class layout, with front, centre and rear lockable differential buttons in the centre of the dash, even if it no longer has three lockable diffs. But AMG insists it sort of does, because pushing the centre-differential button effectively locks the multi-plate centre diff anyway. The front and rear diffs continue to lock with dog clutches and it can all be done on the move in low or high range.

The company also claims the new model is even better off road than its predecessor, with a 2.93:1 reduction gear for low range (up from 2.1:1) and it can be switched into low range at up to 40km/h or back to high range again at up to 70km/h.

Its rear suspension can compress up to 82mm in demanding off-road conditions and droop up to 142mm, while the G63 totes 241mm of ground clearance. It also has sand, rock and trail off-road modes built into its push-button driving systems.