Replacing an icon can go one of two ways: the MINI has proved how successful and lucrative it can be if you get it right… and then there’s the Volkswagen Beetle. Take note Land Rover.

But while the British 4×4 brand is dithering over its Defender replacement, Mercedes-Benz has ploughed ahead with what is a clever reinvention of its classic G-Wagen.

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Of course, the G-Wagen has worn a G-Class badge for some while now and this new model keeps the same boxy styling and expertly-engineered door hinges (that generate what sounds like a gunshot as you shut the door). But it is very much an all-new car – if offering more of the same.

It still sits on a ladder frame chassis, but with double wishbone independent front suspension and adaptive damping, a new steering system and nine-speed gearbox.

In the UK, you can only get it as a G 63 with a thorough fettling by Mercedes-AMG. That brings the most fabulous 4.0-litre V8 offering 577bhp and 627lb ft of torque, blowing through side exhausts that produce a beautifully orchestrated bellow – it’s very loud and huge fun.

It also brings a price of £143,305 pitting this beast of a car up against the finest 4x4s money can buy. It stacks up well, too, with an interior that’s the match of an S-Class on quality, with a dose of style (fantastically butch turbine air vents), tech (twin widescreens with the latest connectivity) and comfort (squishy yet supportive back seats that you can wear a top hat in) that you wouldn’t expect given the utilitarian looks.

The fancy widescreens reflect dreadfully in every front window at night, but there’s space aplenty for five and a couple of large dogs to have plenty of fun.

In spite of the tough-as-nails façade, the fancy new LED lights add a touch of Hollywood, while the AMG additions add a bit of Muscle Beach. This is a car that turns heads like few others, especially on full throttle.

The G 63’s manners are much improved, too. There’s less of the bucking bronco about the ride – it’s now reasonably supple, with body control that belies the Transit-tall bodystyle.

You’ll not want to throw it through corners like other Mercedes-AMG models, but its agility will surprise you with less arm twirling needed thanks to more responsive steering and a slick gearbox, whether you leave it in auto or use the cool (literally) metal paddles for a bit of DIY.

And boy is it quick; 0-62mph in just 4.5 seconds, accompanied by that mighty roar but roughly halving the claimed 21.4 average mpg – it’s naughty but nice.


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