Johannesburg - Mercedes is taking a ‘go big or go home’ approach with the launch of the all-new G-Class in South Africa - there’s only one model variant on offer initially and it’s the grizzly G63 AMG.

Having undergone its biggest redesign ever, the G-Class has emerged with a tantalising mix of old-school blocky styling, traditional rugged off-road ability and new-age electronics and luxuries.

The G63, of course, adds brutal performance to the mix, the previous 5.5-litre twin-turbo V8 making way for Mercedes-AMG’s latest and more powerful 4-litre twin-turbo V8, tuned to 430kW and 850Nm in this guise. This incredible hulk will sprint from 0-100km/h in a claimed 4.5 seconds, while the top speed is limited to 220km/h (or 240km/h if the AMG Driver’s package is fitted).

The V8 has cylinder deactivation but you’re still looking at combined consumption of 13 litres per 100km, and that’s according to manufacturer claims - expect it to drink a lot more than that in real world conditions.

Power goes to all four wheels through a nine-speed Speedshift TCT 9G autobox, with a double-declutching function in “Sport” and “Sport+” modes, and an AMG specific 4Matic all-wheel-drive system with a rear-biased (60 percent) torque distribution.

But when the terrain gets really tough - though it’s hard to imagine you’d do such a thing to a vehicle fitted with 21- or 22-inch rims wearing low-profile rubber - drivers can push the Low Range button to activate a reduction gear designed for crawling. The G63 also has an advanced multi-plate clutch that behaves like an automatically controlled locking diff.

In addition, the vehicle offers three off-road modes: “Sand”, “Trail” and “Rock”.

The shock absorbers are also automatically adjustable for maximum on-road comfort, and here again the driver can flick between three modes, in this case: "Comfort", "Sport" and "Sport+" at the touch of a button.

While the G-Class takes an evolutionary approach to exterior design (why mess with a legend?) the cabin is where you’ll notice the big changes and here Mercedes has endowed it with the latest digital systems, including its widescreen cockpit design as seen in the latest E-Class.

The two 31.2cm adjacent screens can be adjusted via three display styles (Classic, Sporty and Progressive), the infotainment screen housing Merc’s Comand Online system featuring CarPlay and Android Auto, 3D satnav, WiFi and an optional range of remote online services, including a Concierge Service.

The G63 is also available with the Active Multicontour Seat package, featuring climate control and various massage functions.

The new G’s cabin is larger too, with Mercedes claiming a 150mm increase in rear legroom as well as significant improvements in shoulder and elbow room front and back.

The G63 is available now for R2 591 000 and as per tradition there is an ‘Edition 1’ launch model on offer, featuring various distinctive style and colour mods, for R2 891 000.

A G350 variant is set to follow in the second quarter of 2019.

IOL Motoring