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by Tim Beissmann

The Mercedes-Benz G-Class has been upgraded with minor exterior tweaks, a modernised interior and a new engine for the range-topping AMG performance model.

The updated model will go on sale in Europe later this year, although Mercedes-Benz Australia’s Jerry Stamoulis says local customers will have to wait until around April/May 2013 to get behind the wheel of the hand-built off-roader.

From the outside the G350 (pictured above) and G63 AMG benefit from LED daytime running lights and new side mirrors. The AMG model scores a redesigned double-louvre grille and revised bumper with larger air intakes, while 20-inch alloy wheels and red brake callipers are available for the first time.

Inside, the instrument cluster and centre console have been completely redesigned, giving the cabin a premium feel on par with the luxury German manufacturer’s passenger cars.

The instrument panel now features a colour TFT display between two round binnacles. A large screen is positioned at the top of the centre console, incorporating Mercedes’ Comand system, internet connectivity, satellite navigation with off-road functions, voice control, Bluetooth connectivity and a DVD changer.

The climate and audio controls now have a more upmarket appearance, with classy piano black and satin details.

The rugged edges haven’t been completely sanded back, however, with the G-Class retaining its passenger-side grab handle and switches for the three differential locks. The ESC system has been completely revised for the new model to include trailer stability assist and a hold function.

New optional features include active cruise control, blind spot assist, Parktronic with reversing camera and a range of individualisation options for the interior.

The G63 AMG replaces the G55 AMG at the top of the new G-Class line-up. Its 5.5-litre twin-turbo V8 engine produces 405kW of power (at 5500rpm) and 760Nm of torque (from 2000-5000rpm), which represents a 32kW/60Nm increase over the previous model’s supercharged 5.4-litre V8.

Fuel consumption is rated at 13.8 litres per 100km, down significantly from the G55 AMG’s 15.9L/100km figure.

The entry-level G350 diesel is unchanged, carrying over its 155kW/540Nm 3.0-litre engine and 11.2L/100km economy rating.

Mercedes-Benz currently sells approximately 10 G-Classes a month in Australia.

Australian specification and pricing details for the updated model will be confirmed closer to its local launch in the second quarter of next year.