8 things you need to know about the 2019 Mercedes-Benz G550 and AMG G63

The 2019 Mercedes-Benz G-Wagen doesn’t look much different than the boxy SUVs from each of the 40 years preceding it. Typically, if a vehicle is indistinguishable from its predecessors, that’s a bad thing.

The Mercedes-Benz G-Class is anything but typical.

I went to San Diego, California to spend some time with both the 2019 Mercedes-Benz G550 and AMG G63 to see what’s different, and in this case, if change is good.

Here are 8 things you need to know about the 2019 Mercedes-Benz G550 and AMG G63.

2019 Mercedes-AMG G63

2019 Mercedes-AMG G63

This is some black magic

The G550 drives like the old G-Class, but better. The extra 4.8 inches of width and 2.1 inches of length combined with a stiffer structure, weight loss of 375 pounds, and independent front suspension that replaced the old solid axle give the bruiser a new confident, stable feel the old G lacked.

But it’s the AMG G63 model that is unbelievable, a rare feat. With softer springs up front combined with stiffer damper tune both front and rear, an anti-roll bar in the rear and a stiffer anti-roll bar up front, the AMG G63 doesn’t just handle, it carves corners. It’s an unreal, and surreal, experience carving corners in a Mercedes G-Class. Corners can be taken far faster than physics, and science, should allow.

2019 Mercedes-Benz G550
2019 Mercedes-Benz G550
2019 Mercedes-Benz G550
2019 Mercedes-AMG G63

Still conquers rocks

Don’t think that because the new G-Class is far more capable on-road that it’s lost anything off road. All Gs now sport 9.5-inches of ground clearance (up 0.2 inches), and the AMG G63 has three off-road programs (trail, sand, and rock) while the G550 has one (G-Mode). The three locking differentials are still on board, though the metal rocker switches have been updated to plastic buttons, which is a shame.

For 2019, the G550 comes standard with 18-inch wheels (19- and 20-inchers are available), but factory-approved 18-inch Falken Wildpeak all-terrain tires won’t be available until the 2020 model year for off-road adventures.

The G63 launches for 2019 with 21-inch wheels (22-inchers are available), and AMG is still hard at work on an approved 18-inch all-terrain setup that it will rubber stamp.

If the new G can’t get to Grandma’s house, there’s been a serious miscalculation.

ALSO SEE: Off-roader built a Mercedes-Benz G-Class pickup because Mercedes won't for the US

2019 Mercedes-Benz G550

2019 Mercedes-Benz G550

The bull comes standard

All 2019 G-Classes come standard with bull bars. Yes, seriously.

The G550’s goes around the upper grille and headlights while the AMG G63s only goes around the lower grilles.

Mercedes-Benz told Motor Authority the bull bars are standard and that’s how they were certified and tested for sale in the U.S., but that could change in the future.

Off-roaders will be dismayed to learn the design of the G550’s bull bar interferes with the surround-view camera system, so only the AMG G63 model has that very handy feature.

 

2019 Mercedes-AMG G63 muscles in with 577 horsepower

2019 Mercedes-AMG G63 muscles in with 577 horsepower

Finally, cup holders

The G-Class finally has cupholders.

The previous G-Class was never designed for Americans and their Big Gulps. The G-Class didn’t officially come to the U.S. until 2002, and its solution for America's need for cup holders was less than ideal: an attachment to the center console on the passenger side that dangled a Starbucks cup nervously.

The new G-Class has two cupholders front and center ahead of the gear selector like most modern cars just waiting for that morning Frappuccino from Starbucks.

2019 Mercedes-AMG G63 muscles in with 577 horsepower

2019 Mercedes-AMG G63 muscles in with 577 horsepower

Leather, wood, metal, oh my

The G-Class is as tough as ever, but the interior is now as plush as it can be—for a G-Class. Quilted leather adorns the seats and door panels, real wood is on the grab handle for those “Oh crap” moments, and there’s bits of real metal about the cabin.

There’s also some cheap plastic that’s been made to look like brushed aluminum. Lots of it. Particularly around the air vents on the dashboard. It’s a sour point in an otherwise exquisite interior.

2019 Mercedes-AMG G63

2019 Mercedes-AMG G63

Still a vault

Only three things carried over from the old G-Class to the new G-Class: door locks, spare wheel cover, and headlamp washers. The latter two no one will really care, but the first one, people care.

Mercedes-Benz said that’s the first question current G-Class owners asked: Does it still have the same locks?

Unlock the G and there’s an absurdly loud click as the locks rotate open. Grab the door handle, click the button and the door releases. It’s one of the most satisfying feelings in the automotive universe. Slam the door shut and it sounds like a vault closing. Lock the doors and it sounds like a vault locking.

2019 Mercedes-AMG G63

2019 Mercedes-AMG G63

Side pipes, because side pipes

Both the G550 and AMG 63 are powered by a 4.0-liter twin-turbo V-8 that sends power to all four wheels at all times via a 9-speed automatic transmission. In the G550, this setup is good for 416 horsepower and 450 pound-feet of torque, and the AMG 63 spins out 577 hp and 627 lb-ft.

While the exhaust tips are mounted aft of the B-pillar on both sides of the G-Class, only the G63 gets visible exhaust tips. Side pipes. The reason? Ground clearance. On the G550 the exhaust tips are mounted up high out of harm's way.

The AMG G63’s 0-60-mph dash happens in 4.5 seconds. It’s the definition of a flying brick.

2019 Mercedes-AMG G63

2019 Mercedes-AMG G63

Capability costs

There’s no easy way to put this: The G-Class isn’t cheap.

The 2019 G550 starts from $125,495 while the AMG G63 will start from $148,495 when it goes on sale in the U.S. early in 2019.

Add a few options to the G550 and one might as well buy the G63, which, one should anyways because it drives worlds better and does things it shouldn't be able to do.

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