2018 Mercedes-AMG G63 first drive: Military SUV with supercar swagger

Reinventing a classic is tricky. Just ask Madonna. But Mercedes has done the truly iconic G-Class proud with this all-new model, which goes to great lengths to retain the unique, butch coolness of the Gelandewagen, or G-Wagon to many of us misty-eyed nostalgics. It’s the same as ever, but better.

From launch in the UK, the G-Class is only offered as the monster 577bhp V8 bi-turbo Mercedes-AMG G63, while a diesel G350 will arrive in 2019.

First impressions 

You could never confuse a G-Class for anything else. It’s been around for 39 years and two model generations – this is the third - and it’s always retained its bluff, bolshy looks and driving style. It’s as instantly identifiable as the Land Rover Defender that’s about the only moderately similar proposition when it comes to cars with military-grade off-road capability.

So it’s only appropriate that the new model has kept much the same looks. You could actually mistake it for the old one, except for those distinctive LED running lights giving you the angry owl glare.

2018 Mercedes-AMG G63

It’s frankly remarkable - and a credit to how hard Mercedes has worked – that the new G-Class is so true to the original’s unmistakable design swagger despite the fact that only the sun visors, door handles and headlight washers have been carried over. 

The vertical grille, the raised bonnet-mounted indicators (which collapse into the bonnet for pedestian safety regs), the exterior door hinges, the side-exit exhausts, the grab handle facing the passenger on...