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Royalty among 4x4s: The new 430kW Mercedes-AMG G 63 could be the best G-Class yet

2018-11-13 08:30
Mercedes-AMG G63

Image: Motorpress

With the new Mercedes-AMG G 63, the G-Class has undergone the greatest change in its history while remaining true to its well-proven virtues. It underpins its unique position among performance off-road vehicles with the powerful drive system.

The basis for the hallmark AMG Driving Performance both on and off metalled roads is provided by the 430kW 4.0-litre V8 bi-turbo engine, the rear-biased all-wheel drive (40:60) with three differential locks, the extremely fast-shifting 9-speed automatic transmission, the double wishbone independent front suspension and the adaptive adjustable damping. 

GALLERY: 2018 Mercedes-AMG G63

The reinterpretation of the unmistakable design creates strong highlights with the AMG-specific radiator grille, flared wheel arches, striking side pipes on the exhaust system and the 20" wheels — which come as standard.

"The new Mercedes-AMG G 63 inherits the positively powerful DNA of its ancestors. Among the genes are its characteristic design and unparalleled off-roading capabilities.

READ: A 4x4 icon reinvented – monstrous Mercedes-Benz AMG G 63 headed for SA

"We only modified that which would strengthen its predecessor and make its uniqueness even more pronounced. In short, the new G 63 is still a 'G' — only better — which is what our customers want," says Johannes Fritz, Co-CEO of Mercedes-Benz South Africa and Executive Director of Mercedes-Benz Cars.

Proven to be powerful

The 4.0-litre V8 bi-turbo engine now also replaces the previous 5.5-litre V8 in the G 63. It generates 430kW in this model and delivers a maximum torque of 850Nm.

This is available across a wide rev range between 2 500 and 3 500rpm and provides a sense of effortless superiority —going from zero to 100km/h in 4.5 seconds. This dynamic performance is maintained up to the limited maximum speed of 220km/h (or 240km/h with the AMG Driver’s package).

Cylinder deactivation

For more efficiency, Mercedes-AMG has equipped the V8 engine in the G 63 with the AMG Cylinder Management cylinder deactivation system. In the partial-load range, cylinders two, three, five and eight are deactivated, which significantly lowers the fuel consumption. The combined fuel consumption is 13.1 l/100km, and the combined CO2 emissions is 299g/km.

Mercedes-AMG G63

                                                                   Image: Motorpress

When the driver has selected the "Comfort" transmission driving mode, the cylinder deactivation system is available in the wide engine speed range from 1 000 to 3 250rpm.

The AMG main menu on the instrument cluster informs the driver whether the cylinder deactivation system is in use and whether the engine is presently operating in the partial or full-load range. The transition from four to eight-cylinder operation is fast and imperceptible so that the passengers do not experience any loss of comfort whatsoever.

Shorter shift times

This has a model-specific software application to achieve very short shift times. The multiple downshift function allows more spontaneous bursts of speed, while the double-declutching function in "Sport" and "Sport+" transmission modes makes for an even more emotional driving experience. Defined engine manipulation makes for even faster gear changes.

The wide ratio spread allows a choice of sporty, comfortable and efficient driving experience. In all transmission modes, it moves off in first gear to ensure a dynamic sprint from standstill whenever required. The Direct Select lever has been repositioned as a steering column stalk.

"Manual" mode can be selected using a separate switch. The gear changes are based on the selected transmission mode, and the driver can now change gear using the paddles on the steering wheel. Moreover, the transmission stays in the selected gear and does not automatically shift up when the engine speed reaches the limit.

Enhanced agility and traction

The standard-specification AMG Performance 4Matic all-wheel drive features rear-biased torque distribution with a front/rear split of 40 to 60%. This configuration ensures greater agility on the road and improved traction during acceleration. In the preceding model, the distribution was still a neutral 50:50.

The off-road reduction gear can be engaged via the Low range switch at speeds of up to 40km/h. The gear ratio of the transfer case is then changed from 1.00 in High range to 2.93. It is possible to switch from Low range to High range at speeds of up to 70km/h.

The new, intelligent multiplate clutch behaves like an automatically controlled locking differential. It ensures that the G 63 remains manoeuvrable for longer when off-road. The advantage is that the driver has more scope before having to engage the differential locks manually.

Mercedes-AMG G63

                                                                  Image: Motorpress

When the driver operates the switch for the centre differential lock, the multi-plate clutch switches to a 100% locking effect. The locks at the front and rear axle differentials are differential locks with a dog clutch and a 100% locking effect. All the locks can be engaged individually while on the move, both in Low range and in High range; firstly centre, then rear axle and finally front axle differential.

The differential locks now respond to the switches even more rapidly, as they are electromechanically actuated and fully networked. An LED and the central driver's display indicate which lock is currently active.

With adaptive adjustable damping

It is more dynamic and comfortable than its predecessor on the road and performs even better when it is off-road. The agile driving impression is substantially due to the suspension system, which has been completely redesigned by Mercedes-AMG and features coil springs all-round. For the first time, the front axle has an independent, double wishbone suspension; a rigid axle with a five-link suspension is used at the rear.

The AMG ride control suspension with adaptive adjustable damping is standard equipment. This fully automatic, electronically controlled system adjusts the damping at each wheel to the current requirements.

Mercedes-AMG G63

                                                                        Image: Motorpress

This improves driving safety and ride comfort. The damping is adjusted individually for each wheel and depends on the driving style, the road surface and the selected suspension setting. The ideal operating point can be selected at all times on the basis of extensive information relating to acceleration or vehicle speed, for example.

The driver has a choice between three different sets of damping characteristics, namely "Comfort", "Sport" and "Sport+" using a switch on the centre console, to influence the driving experience from very comfortable to taut and sporty.

Direct and with clear feedback

The electromechanical speed-sensitive steering installed in the G 63 for the first time has a variable ratio to ensure precise and authentic feedback. The steering servo assistance is reduced at high speeds and continuously increases at low speeds.

This means that relatively little steering force is required at low speeds and that the best possible control over the vehicle is maintained at high speeds. Steering power assistance is available in a choice of two modes – "Comfort" or "Sport".

The relevant characteristics are automatically activated depending on the selected Dynamic Select driving mode or can be personalised in "Individual" mode. In "Sport" the driver receives more direct feedback about the driving status.

Characteristics at the touch of a finger

For the first time in the history of the Mercedes-AMG G-Class, the driving characteristics can be individualised at the touch of a finger with five on-road and three off-road driving modes.

With the five Dynamic Select on-road modes "Slippery", "Comfort", "Sport", "Sport+" and "Individual", the characteristics range from efficient and comfortable to very sporty. Key parameters such as the response of the engine, transmission, suspension and steering are modified in the process.

Independently of the Dynamic Select drive programs, the driver has the option of pressing the "M" button to switch directly to manual mode, in which gearshifts are executed exclusively using the shift paddles on the steering wheel. If required, the stages of the adaptive adjustable suspension can be selected as well.

Three off-road modes "Sand", "Trail" and "Rock", are available when driving off the beaten track. These are accessed using the switch in the centre console for activation of the central differential lock, and can then be selected with the Dynamic Select rocker switch.

Mercedes-AMG G63

                                                                  Image: Motorpress

"Sand" modifies the parameters for sporty dynamics and the best possible grip and steerability on sandy stretches or desert sand dunes. "Trail" allows maximum performance on soft, muddy or slippery surfaces. "Rock" is the mode for extremely demanding, rocky terrain with severe axle articulation and frequent lifting of one or more wheels.

All the driving modes, both on road and off road, are visualised in the instrument cluster and in the central media display. Deselection of all the locks returns the setting to the on-road driving modes.

Made for the toughest jobs

The basis for the enormous off-road capabilities of the G 63 is provided by a torsionally rigid ladder-type frame of high-strength steel and a mounted body of composite construction.

This design is considerably more robust and suitable for off-road operations than a unibody construction. As the lowest point of this construction, the frame ensures a low centre of gravity and protects the major assemblies, fuel tank and exhaust system during ground contact (e.g. when driving over obstacles).

Another development aim was to reduce the weight of the body. Using a digital prototype, the developers simulated the operating life of individual components and assemblies to determine where lighter materials could be used without compromising durability, operating life and quality.

The result is a new material mix: the bodyshell consists of various grades of steel. The wings, bonnet and doors are made of aluminium. To be able to retain the door hinges and handles typical of the G-Class, the developers modified these to suit the new aluminium design. The A and B-pillars are made of high-strength steel in view of their load-bearing function.

Comfort has also benefited as vibrations and noise in the interior have been considerably reduced.

The off-road capability was the main focus during further development of the doors. The side and rear doors have a protective foil cladding on the inside so that no water can enter when crossing watercourses. The surfaces of the frame, vehicle floor and body are specially treated to withstand even the most severe elements, be it water, snow, salt or sand.

Sporty and distinctive

The unmistakable design features give the new AMG G 63 its unique appearance: the boxy silhouette, the proud bonnet, external door hinges, round headlamps, mounted direction indicators, robust door handles, muscular protective strips with inserts in high-gloss black with a silver AMG emblem, the exposed spare wheel on the rear door with a stainless steel cover and three-dimensional Mercedes star.

The front section of the G 63 is characterised by the AMG-specific radiator grille and the AMG bumper with large side air inlets and trim in matt iridium silver. The headlamps, indicators and tail lights are in LED High-Performance technology as standard. This lighting consumes less energy and has a particularly long service life.

Customers have a choice of eleven new exterior paint finishes (e.g. brilliant blue or designo mystic white bright). In total, 24 paint colours are now available, of which nine are metallic and 13 are designo.

Multibeam LED headlamps including Adaptive Highbeam Assist plus, come standard. These each use 84 individually controlled high-performance LED modules to illuminate the road surface automatically with an extremely bright and precisely directed beam of light, without dazzling other road users.

That is because this individual control allows the light distribution of the left and right headlamps to be adapted separately, quickly and dynamically to suit the changing situation on the road. This improves safety for all road users.

With the enhanced fog light function, the Multibeam LED technology also allows the headlamp on the driver's side to illuminate that side more actively, while masking any rise in the light beam. As a result, the outer half of the road surface is more brightly illuminated and back-glare from the light reflected from the fog is reduced.

Active safety at a high level

As standard equipment, Active Lane Keeping Assist with two intensity settings uses one-sided braking action to prevent the vehicle from unintentionally leaving its lane – for example when inadvertently crossing uninterrupted lane markings.

The system uses a camera to recognise when the driver is crossing a lane marking. Steering wheel vibrations alert the driver to the situation. If the driver fails to react, the G-Class is braked on one side to return it to its lane.

Mercedes-AMG G 63

                                                                  Image: Motorpress

Image recognition and information from the digital roadmap in the navigation system allow the permitted maximum speed and any restrictions on overtaking for the current route section to be computed and shown in the instrument cluster.

Additional restrictions such as speed limits in wet conditions (warning when the windscreen wipers are switched on) or speed limits only for trucks are also taken into account. Traffic Sign Assist is also able to recognise no-entry signs and warn the driver to check the direction of travel.

Protecting the occupants

The passive safety of the new G-Class is based on a new body design with a particularly rigid passenger cell, the ladder-type frame and specifically deformable crumple zones. In a frontal crash, the ladder-type frame uses a special support to direct longitudinal forces into the floor structure.

The extra-rigid passenger cell gives the occupants sufficient protective space. It also reduces the deceleration forces acting on the occupants in an accident. Regarding new standard safety equipment, the new G-Class comes with two additional airbags in the A-pillars and a knee bag.

Further distinctive features

Other characteristics of the G 63 include the flared front and rear wheel arches, which create space for the larger, wider wheels. Running boards as standard, distinctive trim elements on the front and rear bumpers and metallic paintwork as standard round off the exclusive exterior.

Other distinguishing features include the "V8 BITURBO" lettering on the front wings and the Mercedes-AMG G 63 model badge on the rear door. Red brake callipers, perforated brake discs and up to 22" wheel upgrades available for the first time, round off the exterior design.

The G 63 looks particularly striking with the optional AMG Night package. In this case, the headlamps, tail lights, indicator lenses, rear window and rear side windows are dark-tinted.

The obsidian black paint finish on the exterior mirror housings, the spare wheel ring and the trim in the front and rear bumpers, together with the black-painted underride guard, emphasises the confident appearance which is rounded off by matte-black 21 or 22" wheels.

Sporty look with model-specific details

It has been given a completely newly designed, modern interior that echoes specific exterior features. The shape of the round headlamps is reflected in the side air vents and that of the indicators in the tweeters on the dashboard. Hallmarks of the G 63 also include the grab handle in front of the front passenger and the chrome-highlighted switches for the three differential locks.

The new fully digital 12.3" Widescreen Cockpit comes as standard for the first time in the new G-Class allowing the driver to have three different display styles. These styles are "Classic", "Sporty" and "Progressive".

The rear seats can be folded down in a ratio of 40, 60 or 100%. The seats in the G-Class are equipped as standard with numerous convenience functions and are ergonomically designed, thus providing enhanced seating comfort and lateral support. Features include the Memory function for the driver's seat, seat heating front and rear, as well as luxury head restraints in the front.

This ride comfort can optionally be boosted still further with the Active Multicontour Seat package. In addition to the special multi-contour seats, this encompasses such features as various massage functions, climate-controlled seats, and fast seat heating.

This variant also offers electrically adjustable lumbar support for the driver and front passenger. The side sections of the seat cushions and backrests of the active multi-contour seats include integrated air chambers that fill or empty continuously depending on the driving dynamics, thus providing better support for the seating positions of driver and front passenger and, for example, offering more lateral support during cornering.

Luxurious as it is authentic

While the exterior maintains the iconic, classic look, the interior of the G-Class has undergone a fundamental modern redesign which reinterprets the genes of the classic vehicle to reflect modern luxury.

With its off-road character and top-class luxury appointments, the G-Class has always combined two extremes into a harmonious symbiosis. Unmistakable at first glance and from the first touch, only high-quality materials are used. Every detail is finished by hand with the utmost care.

Its details include the generous use of high-quality metal or carbon fibre trim and its leather seats. The doors are very solid, clear evidence of that hallmark "G" functionality.

A well-conceived stowage space concept with numerous stowage compartments (e.g. in the armrest or in the rear doors) ensures that everything has its place. There is now an illuminated compartment under the armrest for items such as a penknife or sunglasses. 

The interior comfort of the G-Class has been refined to include ambient lighting similar to that in the S-Class. As standard, the ambience lighting offers a choice of eight colour tone mixes.

New AMG Performance steering wheel as standard

Extremely sporty design, a grippy shape with a heavily contoured rim and intuitive operation are the key attributes of the new AMG Performance steering wheel in Nappa leather, which is standard equipment. It has a flattened lower section and is perforated in the grip area. The steering wheel shift paddles are galvanised.

Using the integrated touch control buttons located on the steering wheel, the functions of the multimedia system (left) and instrument cluster (right) can be intuitively controlled by horizontal and vertical swiping movements of a finger.

Mercedes-AMG G 63

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As in the S-Class, the settings for Active Distance Assist Distronic and cruise control are made in the left control panels. The control panels on the left are used to activate the voice control and telephone, and to regulate the sound volume, music selection and other functions of the multimedia system.

Connectivity and digitisation using the latest technology is provided by the infotainment system COMAND Online with NTG 5.5, which is standard. This begins with effortless integration of a smartphone into the onboard infotainment system. Phone calls can then be conveniently made via the Bluetooth hands-free system.

Apple's smartphone-based infotainment system CarPlay and Google's Android Auto can also be used with COMAND Online. If a corresponding smartphone is connected by USB, the customer can, if desired, switch to the CarPlay or Android AutoTM interface.

A direct connection

Under the name "Mercedes me connect", Mercedes-Benz offers an extensive package of free standard services and Remote Online services via an onboard communication module.

The range of services is being expanded continuously. The free basic services include Mercedes-Benz emergency call (eCall), Accident Recovery, Breakdown Management and Remote vehicle diagnostics.

The optional Remote Online services allow drivers to connect to their vehicle from anywhere and at any time e.g. by smartphone, to access vehicle information and to remotely activate a variety of functions.

The range of functions includes remote door locking/unlocking and programming of the auxiliary heating. This works both with the Mercedes me app (available for iOS and Android) and via the Mercedes me portal.

A further comfort highlight is the Concierge Service, which is now also available for the G-Class in conjunction with Mercedes me connect. Subscribed customers can take advantage of a number of individual services: from making a restaurant reservation to obtaining tips about tourist routes, information on cultural and sporting events and bookings through to sending navigation destinations directly to the vehicle.

Exclusive "Edition 1" special model

It is also available as an exclusive "Edition 1" model. The combination of equipment details turns the special model into the flagship of the range.

The available paint finishes are magnetite black, obsidian black, iridium silver, Mojave silver, selenite grey, Designo graphite metallic, Designo platinum black, Designo mystic white bright, Designo platinum Magno and Designo night black Magno.

Mercedes-AMG G63

                                                                   Image: Motorpress

As a discreet contrast, the sports stripes along the vehicle sides are in matte graphite grey. The exterior mirror housings have a decorative red stripe while the AMG Night package with features in high-gloss black, reinforce the muscular impression. The matte black 22" forged wheels in a cross-spoke design have red-painted rim flanges.

The red highlights continue in the interior: They can be found on numerous interior features, for example as red contrasting top stitching on the dashboard support, centre console, door panels and rear seats. The front sport seats in black/red pepper Nappa leather also show this striking colour.

The sport seats feature a dynamic diamond pattern with red contrasting top stitching as standard. The carbon-fibre trim has highlights in red pepper, and the Performance steering wheel in Dinamica microfibre with a flattened lower section is embellished with red contrasting top stitching and a red 12 o'clock marking.

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