Mercedes-Benz is throwing a big sendoff for the 25-year-old G-Class--the rugged, function-first, military-inspired sport/utility--by giving it the most powerful V-8 ever offered in any factory-sold SUV.

At 469 horses and 516 pound-feet of torque, the handbuilt AMG 5.5-liter supercharged V-8 offers 30 percent more power than last year's naturally aspirated G55 (which at the time was also the strongest SUV sold in the U.S.). The new AMG G55 version uses a different fuel- injection system, an intercooler, and a screw-type supercharger to create the extra go. And even though this AMG engine is shared with E-, S-, SL-, and CL-Class sedans and coupes, this G55 could be the most muscular-sounding V-8 you'll ever hear.

According to preliminary M-B test data, the 2005 G55 can haul its 5600-plus pounds to 100 kph (62 mph) from a standing start in 5.6 seconds, setting it squarely next to the Porsche Cayenne Turbo in acceleration. As with all AMG variants, bigger and stronger binders deliver enhanced braking performance, resulting in excellent, almost disturbingly calm stopping power.

Underneath, the G-Class still uses (very) old-school front and rear solid axles and a super-rigid ladder frame. Unlike last year's G55, though, which included a stiffer, more performance-oriented suspension, the 2005 will have a softer ride and feel, more akin to the standard-issue G500.