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New Mercedes-AMG G 63 2018 review

The Mercedes-AMG G 63 is a reborn G-Wagen with extra mod-cons and the same iconic style

Overall Auto Express Rating

4.0 out of 5

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Mercedes has reinvented the G-Class with both a sense of style and a sense of humour. It’ll surprise you with its quality and tech, and the fact that you no longer have to compromise on comfort or how you drive it. It’s genuinely fun, not least thanks to its grin-inducing V8. Sky-high purchase and running costs will make this a rarefied, but glorious sight, though.

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Replacing an icon can go one of two ways: the MINI has proved how successful and lucrative it can be if you get it right… and then there’s the Volkswagen Beetle. Take note Land Rover.

But while the British 4x4 brand is dithering over its Defender replacement, Mercedes-Benz has ploughed ahead with what is a clever reinvention of its classic G-Wagen.

• Best 4x4s and SUVs on sale

Of course, the G-Wagen has worn a G-Class badge for some while now and this new model keeps the same boxy styling and expertly-engineered door hinges (that generate what sounds like a gunshot as you shut the door). But it is very much an all-new car – if offering more of the same.

It still sits on a ladder frame chassis, but with double wishbone independent front suspension and adaptive damping, a new steering system and nine-speed gearbox.

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In the UK, you can only get it as a G 63 with a thorough fettling by Mercedes-AMG. That brings the most fabulous 4.0-litre V8 offering 577bhp and 627lb ft of torque, blowing through side exhausts that produce a beautifully orchestrated bellow – it’s very loud and huge fun.

It also brings a price of £143,305 pitting this beast of a car up against the finest 4x4s money can buy. It stacks up well, too, with an interior that’s the match of an S-Class on quality, with a dose of style (fantastically butch turbine air vents), tech (twin widescreens with the latest connectivity) and comfort (squishy yet supportive back seats that you can wear a top hat in) that you wouldn’t expect given the utilitarian looks.

The fancy widescreens reflect dreadfully in every front window at night, but there’s space aplenty for five and a couple of large dogs to have plenty of fun.

In spite of the tough-as-nails façade, the fancy new LED lights add a touch of Hollywood, while the AMG additions add a bit of Muscle Beach. This is a car that turns heads like few others, especially on full throttle.

The G 63’s manners are much improved, too. There’s less of the bucking bronco about the ride – it’s now reasonably supple, with body control that belies the Transit-tall bodystyle.

You’ll not want to throw it through corners like other Mercedes-AMG models, but its agility will surprise you with less arm twirling needed thanks to more responsive steering and a slick gearbox, whether you leave it in auto or use the cool (literally) metal paddles for a bit of DIY.

And boy is it quick; 0-62mph in just 4.5 seconds, accompanied by that mighty roar but roughly halving the claimed 21.4 average mpg – it’s naughty but nice.

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