The Drive’s Mercedes G63 Review: ‘180-turn from Predecessors’

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Mercedes G-Class

Updating a vehicle as iconic as the Mercedes G-Class is nothing short of a daunting task, but somehow, Mercedes pulled it off.

It isn’t often (if ever) that a singular automotive model endures decades with only minor updates. And it isn’t like the heralded Mercedes G-Class lineup hasn’t received its fair share of updates over the last 40 years. But despite adding such “luxuries” as air conditioning and navigation over that time, we’ve never seen a blank sheet redesign of the legendary luxury off-roader. Until now.

The long-time coming Mercedes G-Class made its public debut at this year’s Detroit Auto Show. And now, we’re just beginning to see testers get their hands on them. The Drive’s Eric Adams was lucky enough to hop behind the wheel of both the G550 and AMG C63 in southern France recently. And needless to say, they came away rather impressed. Starting with, of all things, the door that “sounds awfully like the action of a Glock semiautomatic chambering a new round” when you shut it.

2019 Mercedes G-Class

The exterior of the new G-Class might not look much different than the outgoing model, but that’s by design. As Adams correctly points out, this is the only Mercedes that “isn’t obligated to yield to the company’s strict design playbook.” So the real question is, how does it drive? Mercedes retained the original’s basic ladder-style structure, but updated everything else. Those improvements make the old school off-roader a “180-degree turn from its predecessor” and much smoother on-road.

Wind noise is also significantly less than before. Which, of course, allows you to focus on the beautiful new S-Class like dash layout. It’s all leather and modern tech inside. But a passenger-mounted grab bar “remains to remind users that they can, indeed, have some fun with this thing.”

Mercedes G-Class

Hopping into the AMG C63, Adams found two big noticeable differences. “The engine is more refined and robust than the G550’s, and the transmission faster-acting, too.” And even though Mercedes dialed back off-road functionality in the AMG on purpose, it’s reportedly every bit as capable off the beaten path.

It’s still early, but this G-Class review is rather glowing. Mercedes obviously faced a daunting task updating their beloved icon. But taking their time to do so clearly paid off. Change isn’t always a good thing. But in this case, Mercedes simply left everything we loved about the G-Class intact and only updated what was obsolete.

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Brett Foote has been covering the auto industry for over five years and is a longtime contributor to Internet Brands’ popular Auto Group websites, including Chevrolet Forum, Rennlist, and Ford Truck Enthusiasts, among others.

Foote been an automotive enthusiast since the day he came into this world and rode home from the hospital in a first-gen Mustang, and he's been wrenching on them nearly as long.

In addition to his expertise writing about cars, trucks, motorcycles and every other type of automobile, Foote had spent several years running parts for local dealerships.

You can follow along with his builds and various automotive shenanigans on Instagram: @bfoote.

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