The 2019 Mercedes-AMG G63 still looks like the crate it was shipped in, which, to me, is one of the more charming things about it. Sure, they’ve rounded the corners, did some nips and tucks and contouring and such here and there, but the new G63 still looks like what anything that can go off road should look like: Honest. And even though the latest G-Class can go off road, and even though 99 percent of them never will, the most interesting thing about it is the big whompin’ stompin’ hootin’ hollerin’ V8 engine.
With two turbos.
Sure, the 2019 Mercedes-AMG G63 has lots of nifty tech and convenience features, that’s true, but this engine is really worth looking at.
It’s a handcrafted AMG-built 4.0-liter V8 biturbo mill that replaces the outgoing 5.5-liter V8 biturbo engine in the previous G63. I know. If it’s a G63, shouldn’t the plant be, oh, 6.3-liters big? Dunno. Ask the Germans. There’s bound to be some logic there. There always is. Anyway, the new double-blown engine puts out 577 horsepower and dispenses 627 lb-ft. of torque to the sand, gravel, mud, logging roads, or the parking lot at your Bikram Yoga class down at the strip mall.
To make all that go and grunt even more fun, Merc has seen fit to deliver most of it across a rev range between 2,500 and 3,500 rpm. Bottom line: zero to 60 mph in just 4.4 seconds! Yes, that’s astonishingly quick for a box that weighs about what a Panzer IV weighed. That’s also 0.9 seconds faster than the previous model. So there. Top speed is an impressive (although limited) 137 mph, or 149 mph if you opt for the AMG Driver‘s package.
The strange thing is the physical layout of the plant and all its ancillaries. The two turbochargers, for instance, are not positioned on the outside of the cylinders but inside the cylinder “V.” Mercedes-Benz says the advantages are a compact engine design, spontaneous response of the turbochargers, and low exhaust emissions thanks to optimal airflow to the “near-engine catalysts.” My take on the disadvantages come down to two words: Heat soak. But I got to figure a bunch of German engineers know more about die Thermodynamik than I do. I hope.
And speaking of German engineers, they’ve also tweaked the pistons, optimized intercooling, and rolled out extensive software upgrades. Spray-guided direct gasoline injection with piezo injectors? Check. An all-aluminum crankcase? Yes, but how it handles the stresses on the bottom end is beyond me. There’s also a four-valve per cylinder design with camshaft adjustment, air-to-water intercooling, alternator management (not sure what they mean by that), an ECO start/stop function, and a gliding mode. And no, I’m not sure what they mean by gliding mode either.
That new engine is mated to an AMG nine-speed transmission, running model-specific software for shorter shift times, a multiple downshift function, and a double-declutching function in “Sport” and “Sport Plus” modes. Further down the pipeline is a standard-specification AMG Performance 4MATIC all-wheel drive system. The front/rear split of 40 to 60 percent favors a more rear-biased torque distribution.
There’s an off-road reduction gear for difficult terrain that can be engaged via the low range switch at speeds of up to 25 mph. The new multiplate clutch behaves like an automatically controlled locking differential that can switch to 100 percent locking. The locks at the front and rear axle diffs do so with a dog clutch and a 100 percent locking effect, and all the locks can be engaged individually while on the move. Pretty trick.
The suspension system has been completely redesigned by Mercedes-AMG and features coil springs all-round and, for the first time, the front axle has an independent, double wishbone suspension. Out back, there is the tried but true rigid axle with a five-link suspension. The new G63 has electromechanical speed-sensitive steering for the first time, with a variable ratio, in a choice of two modes: Comfort or Sport. Further goodies include a driver’s choice of five AMG on-road modes: Slippery, Comfort, Sport, Sport+, and Individual.
If you go off-road, you can choose from three modes: Sand, Trail, and Rock.
And on the inside, you will find a modern interior. The dashboard has been completely redesigned with analogue tubes and dial instruments standard. You have the option of the fully digital Widescreen Cockpit with virtual instruments, and a central display above the center console with three selectable views: Classic, Sporty, and Progressive.
Pricing & In Person
No word on price or availability, but I bet it’s in showrooms by this fall and will cost an astonishing amount. The 2019 Mercedes-AMG G63 debuts officially at the Geneva International Motor Show beginning on March 8th.
Tony Borroz has spent his entire life racing antique and sports cars. He is the author of Bricks & Bones: The Endearing Legacy and Nitty-Gritty Phenomenon of The Indy 500, available in paperback or Kindle format.