Is the 2019 G Class upgrade worth it?
It’s been more than four decades since the Mercedes Geländewagen or the G-Wagen came out, and while competitors have updated their lines, the G-Wagen has remained largely the same except for a few minor tweaks here and there. And why not as the G-Wagen has done done very well.
While the original 1979 G-Wagen remains a classic, Mercedes has finally decided to do a more comprehensive update yet. Their engineers took a big risk but they were able to pull it off.
One of the things you’ll notice is that the live rear axle, body on frame and square off construction have been maintained. But apart from keeping those, Mercedes made several modifications.
The live axle up front is gone as well as the hydraulic steering. Instead the 2019 G-Wagen has an electronic power steering system and a front control arm suspension mechanism. These modifications are bound to enhance the handing and riding experience.
The interior has been upgraded as well and is comparable to the S-Class in terms of comfort and luxury. While the body on frame has been retained, it’s longer so there is more room for passengers. More leg room is always welcome and the increase in the 2019 G-Wagen is almost half a foot, which is really nice.
Other features that have been retained from the classic G-Wagen are its mounting bracket, sun visors, the headlight washer nozzles and the spare tire cover. The lock mechanisms, hinges and door handles have also been kept.
Under the Hood
A quick look under the hood shows that the G 63 and the G 550 both get a 4 L twin turbo V8 engine, and this is combined with a 4WD and a 9 speed automatic. The four wheel drive is also equipped with rear, front and locking center differentials.
With the G 550 you get 450 lb ft of torque and 416 hp. The G 63 has disposed of the twin turbo 5.5 L V8 and now has a 4L that goes up to 627 lb ft of torque and 577 hp, so you’ve got some serious power here.
The G 63 has an adaptive suspension system built in but it is optional on the G 550. This suspension system is designed for on and off road performance, and the differential system has been enhanced so it’s easier to use. The suspension system also comes with pre-lock lights that notifies you the chosen differential is locked.
Its G-Mode is designed for off-road driving, and it turns on when low range is chosen or you’ve locked the center differential. This also modifies the 4 wheel drive front/rear to 50/50 from the default 40/60.
If there is suspension damping it gets adjusted as well as the steering and the throttle. The G Mode on the G 63 is even more versatile as it comes with rock, sand and trail settings. These features more than make up for its approach angle which looks rather shallow. It also works great for either 22 or 20 inch wheels.
In contrast the G 550 has 20 and 18 inch wheels for options. Both the G 63 and the G 550 is can be fitted with all-terrain tires.
The G 63 and the G 550 both offer exceptional performance. If you have driven the original G Wagen, you’ll immediately notice the difference in handling. The view from the cabin is as good as it’s ever been, but you can feel the difference.
The G 550 offers greater balance, and the 9 speed improves the engine’s performance. The original had decent acceleration but the G 550 is much better when it comes to acceleration. The transmission shifts smoothly and gear selection is no problem. Shift to sport mode and you’ll notice the gears are kept longer, allowing the V8 and your downshift to move in harmony.
The G 63 feels a lot more like the classic G when you floor it. Given the specs it’s no surprise this one feels powerful and fast. The 627 torque, the V8 and its hp allows the G 63 to produce plenty of power with little effort. The G 63 has superior cornering speeds than the G 550. However the G 550 is more forgiving.
Both models also handle well in off-road driving. Whether it is crossing water several times, traversing mud, gravel or crawling over rocks, the G 63 and the G 550 both acquitted themselves nicely.
Mercedes wisely kept the good stuff about the G-Wagen but added a lot of new features that enhances this icon. Apart from the exterior changes, Mercedes added other features which make this a worthy upgrade of a bonafide classic. They say if it isn’t broke don’t fix it, but in this case, Mercedes was able to do it with aplomb.
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