The G wagen’s most significant update an independent front suspension in place of a live axle was immediately apparent on the move, where the old truck’s bouncy stiff-legged motions are replaced by a greater composure that appeared to be far easier to manage. Front wheel articulation was much better controlled as the G traversed sharp rocks and deep ruts, while its honest-to-goodness variable-ratio, electrically assisted rack-and-pinion steering never forced the driver to saw at the wheel the way one had to do with the recirculating-ball setup in the old truck. A live rear axle still resides under the back end although the former trailing-arm setup has been replaced by a more precise arrangement employing a Panhard rod. Steel coil springs and adaptive dampers support each corner; performance-oriented AMG models will use a more street-friendly setup, including a rear anti-roll bar that the G550 lacks. Thanks in part to the big front control arms mounted high in the new G-class’s chassis, with a curving strut-tower brace tying their mounts together for extra strength, Mercedes says overall suspension travel has increased slightly to 7.3 inches up front and 8.8 inches in back. That’s not a lot for a dedicated off-roader and the 265/60R-18 Falken Wildtrack all-terrain tires on the preproduction prototypes were modestly sized. Yet our G exhibited impressive shock absorption and attitude control even when it was careening downhill at near reckless speeds. The G550’s largely carryover twin-turbo 4.0-liter V-8 allowed for climbing up the Schöckl’s slopes with a wonderful excess of power and noise. Mercedes won’t yet quote specific outputs, but it felt like the prototypes made at least the 416 horsepower of the current G550 we expect roughly 600 horses in the new G63 as an AMG-tuned 4.0-liter supplants the existing model’s 5.5-liter mill. The previous seven-speed automatic transmission makes way for a new quick-shifting nine-speed unit shared with other modern Benzes yet featuring a unique casing that incorporates the two-speed transfer case with a default 40/60 percent front/rear torque split. Here, too, the AMG should have its own specific tweaks. The switches for the G’s standard front, center, and rear locking differentials remain prominently placed in the center of the dashboard. Along with side-exit exhaust pipes that filled the woods with a burly V-8 roar, other essential G-wagen traits that make the jump to the new model include doors that close with a vaultlike kachunk and unlock with the satisfying clack of a bolt-action rifle.