2023 Mercedes-AMG G63 4×4 Squared First Look: Portal to the Past

When Mercedes-Benz redesigned the G-Class SUV for 2019 after an incredibly long production run dating back to the late 1970s, a few things were lost. The 40-year-young G’s iconic paramilitary bodywork was, gasp!, softened with some curves; the interior was no longer cramped and hurting (as much) for elbow room; and, of course, the 4×4’s live front axle was finally replaced by a more modern and precise-handling independent front suspension.

Why could the G-wagen not go on with the same basic setup as the Jeep Wrangler, which is still sold with two solid axles? Well, by the time the original G bowed out in 2017, it was offering wildly powerful twin-turbo V-8s and even a V-12—entrusting the mall set with so much horsepower while perched high above two stick axles… let’s just say an inch of sanity crept into the G’s portfolio. For everyone who wished that hadn’t happened, we present this: The 2023 Mercedes-AMG G63 4×4 Squared.

Reviving the zany 4×4 Squared in the G-Class’s new chassis, this up-fitted G63 once again features a ludicrous ride height and widened stance. Those upgrades were largely thanks to a set of exotic portal axles, which use gearsets at each end to offset the wheel hub from the axle’s centerline and open up vast airspace between the wheels. Shifting the axle and its differential pumpkin northward while yanking the wheel hubs downward enabled the last 4×4 Squared (then a G500, not a formal AMG model) to straddle tall boulders or slog through deep two-tracks or look badass just driving down the road.

The portal axles are back for 2023 even though the front axle is independent, and will help make the G63 4×4 Squared the most hardcore, off-road-capable G-wagen you can buy. It will not be quite as hardcore, however, as the old one. Its off-road performance specs trail those of the G500 4×4 Squared slightly, but nevertheless, they’re huge improvements over the regular G’s: An absurd 13.8 inches of ground clearance, a 35.8-inch wading depth, and the ability to scamper up 45-degree inclines. Those are 4.3 inches and 8.2 inches better than the G550 and G63’s 9.5 inches of clearance and 27.6-inch water fording depth, though falls short of the old G500’s 17.24 inches of clearance and 39.4-inch fording depth.

Under the hood sits the same twin-turbo 4.0-liter V-8 found in the regular G63 model, though here it’s apparently boosted from 577 hp to 585 hp. (No word on torque, but in the G63 non-squared, that figure is a healthy 627 lb-ft.) The rest of the four-wheel-drive system and transmission are carried over from the G63, though here power is ultimately routed to massive 22-inch wheels wrapped in even larger all-terrain tires.

As with the old 4×4 Squared, this one’s fenders are extended yet still don’t fully fit over the beefy tires, and an aftermarket-looking LED light bar glows from above the windshield. Those fender flares, by the way, are carbon fiber, a material also used for the “spoiler” above the front seat area that houses those LED lamps as well as the G’s signature rub strips that circumnavigate its boxy body. AMG also fits an expansive carbon fiber spare tire cover with “4×4²” formed into it; the piece is so large because it struggles to “cover” a full-size, 22-inch spare wheel and tire. Inside, the specialness continues, with a faux suede-wrapped steering wheel, AMG accents throughout, and expanded LED accent lighting.

We have absolutely no idea how much this thing will cost—we’re waiting on further, final details from Mercedes—but the old one started at $225,995. Given how G-wagen retail prices have become utterly detached from reality (a temporary halt in twin-turbo V-8 production sent dealer markups skyrocketing on what inventory did slip through to the States the past year), don’t hold your breath for an MSRP you could describe as “affordable.”

Also factor in the eerie hints in the video above, narrated by Toni Mäntele, Head of Product Management for the G-Class, that this 4×4 Squared represents “the last of its kind” and promises to be a limited model. The last one was, of course, also a limited model, but this one likely marks the end of the road for profligately hydrocarbon-burning Gs, which besides the 4×4 Squared have taken the form of six-wheeled half-trucks, long-wheelbase Landaulet cabrios, and, more. Mercedes is working on an electric G-wagen, and that, not this awesomely tall, needlessly heavy, overpowered beast, is the future the brand is working toward. So, yes, definitely buy one if you can afford it.

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