by James Tate, Contributor

Mercedes-Benz has unleashed the 2013 G63 AMG on an unsuspecting world, and we've carved it into 10 bite-size pieces. The latest incarnation of what is probably the world's single most rugged off-road vehicle is some 34 years in the making and still built by hand. Let's quickly catch up with Mercedes' timeless time machine.

1. There's a new engine

Engineers gutted the engine bay and plopped in a new twin-turbocharged 5.5-liter V8, which is good for 544 horsepower and 560 pound-feet of torque. That's more muscle than you'll find from sports cars like the Ferrari California or Nissan's infamous GT-R. Of course, those are lighter vehicles. The G63 AMG tips the scales at well over 5,600 pounds.

2. It's very fast

That's a lot of weight, but with a new seven-speed automatic transmission capable of shifting quicker than most dual-clutch units, the G63 AMG gets to 60 mph in just 5.4 seconds. The lawyers slapped on an electronic limiter to keep the big box from travelling over 130 mph, which means the drivetrain is capable of propelling the vehicle well beyond those speeds.

3. And it will stop quickly

Mercedes-Benz graced the G63 with a pair of hefty six-piston calipers and 13.8-inch discs on the front axle. That's some serious hardware for a squared-off SUV, and very necessary for trimming off velocity at autobahn speeds. The brakes are 11 percent larger than the ones found on the G550.

4. It's "green"

Sort of. The combination of a new engine stop/start system and that seven-speed automatic transmission has helped nudge fuel economy slightly upward. Buyers can expect to enjoy somewhere around 17 mpg combined. Don't worry. That figure's still blunt enough to give most hybrid owners an anxiety attack.

5. It has a serious tow rating

Despite the urban appeal, the G63 AMG is built to do work. It can brag about a 7,716-pound tow rating, which is more than a base Ford F-150. Of course, the big G is still built just like the all-American pickup. Both feature body-on-frame designs, but only the G still pounds the pavement with solid axles front and rear.

6. There's more tech than before

Yes, the G63 AMG looks like it should have a starring role in a war zone somewhere, but designers gave the SUV a leather-lined cabin. With a new TFT color instrument display and a new infotainment screen, the G63 cabin no longer looks as if it were stuck in the year 1999, and a host of safety and stability aids are on hand to keep you out of trouble. Oh, and yes — all of this feels completely out of place in this old-school monster.

7. And more standard features

There are stacks of new standard features on the G63 AMG, including driving aides like the Mercedes-Benz PARKTRONIC sensor system with back-up camera. Drivers who tow may appreciate the new trailer stability assist, complete with hill-hold function.

8. It's still as capable as ever

Mercedes-Benz originally designed the G-Wagen to serve Germany's military forces, which means it had to be tough enough to handle the battlefield. Despite the bonkers engine and coddling interior, that hasn't changed. The G63 AMG still features a ludicrous 36-degree approach angle.

9. It still looks exactly the same

Designers are worried about tampering with the G-Class recipe (thankfully), which is why the G63 AMG looks exactly like its predecessor. Sure, there are some new LED headlights and a modestly altered grille, but by and large, this is the rugged beast you wanted in the late seventies.

10. They make even nuttier versions

There is nothing even remotely sane about the G63 AMG, but our friends in Europe can purchase two other variants that are even more mental. There's the two-door convertible iteration with a power folding top, and then there's the ludicrous G65. That one comes with a twin-turbocharged V12 packing 612 horsepower.

So what's the price of all this lunacy? Six figures, to be blunt. Still interested? You can build and price your own 2013 Mercedes-Benz G63 AMG right here.


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