The Electric G-Class Makes Its Geländewagen Ancestors Proud

white g580 ev g class electric on muddy trail in france
G-Class EV Makes Its Geländewagen Ancestors ProudAaron Brown

Mercedes-Benz could’ve botched the electric G. The vehicle could’ve been slow, incapable off-road, ugly, or many other unfortunate things, had the automaker taken the easy way out. I’m pleased to report that the G580 is none of those things. In fact, it’s the most exciting and fulfilling electric car from Mercedes yet.

It’s easy to explain the electric G. Simply put, it’s just a G-wagen with an electric powertrain. This is just another propulsion option. The rest of the truck remains true to common form. That’s a good thing. The electric G isn’t pretending to be a spaceship, it’s not a hideous self-driving pod, and it keeps gimmicks to a minimum. Thank goodness.

g580 ev g class electric
Aaron Brown

Though the formula remains the same—a bulletproof, go-anywhere off-roader with top-class luxury in a boxy package—the way Mercedes got there is very different. A ton of engineering went into making sure the electric G was more than just a poseur car. Mercedes developed electric power units that pack their own mini dual-range gearsets, created a massive impact-resistant battery casing that can take on around 33.5 inches of floodwaters, fine-tuned a unique driving noise that wouldn’t scare away enthusiasts, and more. The electric G is an engineering marvel, and that shows from behind the wheel. It’s the full package, the real deal.

On Road

The biggest takeaways about the on-road driving experience are that the electric G is very quick, it’s very soft, and you immediately forget just how heavy the rig is.

g580 ev g class electric
Aaron Brown

As is the norm for most EVs we get in the States, the electric torque is immense. The G580’s quad-motor setup brings 859 lb-ft, 579 hp, and an estimated 0–60 time of 4.6 seconds. It’s blisteringly quick. It pulls far harder than the now-defunct V-8 G550 and feels nearly as potent as the updated G63. For reference, Mercedes quotes 4.2 seconds for that turbocharged V-8 to pull the AMG to 60.


Unfortunately, with the EV—unlike the G63 and its incredible new AMG Active Ride Control suspension setup—you can’t carry all of that speed through corners. Well, not easily, at least. Though Mercedes engineers did an impressive job of avoiding a top-heavy feel and keeping the truck’s center of gravity low, it has a ton of body roll. At about 6600 pounds, this is a heavy truck, about 850 pounds heavier than the last gas-powered G550 Car and Driver put on its scales, and Mercedes set up its suspension much softer. (For reference, this EV G is a good bit lighter than the 6986-pound Rivian R1S and a huge bit lighter than the 8660-pound GMC Hummer EV SUV.) Even with its standard adaptive dampers, the G580 has far more roll than the updated G550. For most drivers, this is no big deal. In fact, it’s probably for the best, to help the truck soak up the bumps and potholes many owners will find when traversing the likes of Madison Avenue or the Grove’s parking lot. But if you’re looking for a canyon carver, the electric G is not really that car. That shouldn’t be a surprise.

When asked about the difference in suspension tuning, a Mercedes-Benz spokesperson told Road & Track that “the absolute maximum roll angle is nearly equal to a G550, but the dynamics differ, as the vehicle mass and the setup are different. We always aim to find the sweet spot between off-road capability, comfort, and dynamics without losing the ‘G feel.’”

g580 ev g class electric
Aaron Brown

The brakes do a decent job of bringing all the mass to a halt. The G580 won’t stop on a dime, but they do well. The regen system, which is adjustable and operates the same way as in the other EQ models, is a welcome added feature for the EV, compared with its gas counterparts. One-pedal driving is easy to get acquainted with; just don’t expect it to help pack on the range miles. Mercedes says the electric G is capable of up to 294 miles of range on the European WLTP scale. In conversations with Road & Track, G-wagen engineers made clear that they prioritized off-road performance and other iconic G-class traits over range efficiency.


The G580 is no joke off-road. In fact, it might be more trail-friendly than any of its predecessors. For that, you can thank its four motors, their extreme torque, the overengineering the “G unit” took on for the build, and even the seemingly silly party tricks squeezed into the truck. Yes, they actually help. Well, some do.

g580 ev g class electric

Let’s get the specs out of the way: Mercedes claims the G580 can climb 100 percent grades and crawl over 9.8 inches of terrain, with a 32-degree approach angle, a 30.7-degree departure angle, and a 20.3 break-over angle. All but the latter best the outgoing G550. And as we mentioned earlier, its water-fording capabilities are highly impressive. We got the truck up to the top of its hood in thick mud. It couldn’t care less.

Then there are the gadgets and gizmos. The G580’s most notable but least noticeable party trick is its “intelligent off-road crawl function.” It brings pedal-free multispeed crawls to the trail. It also makes the truck feel unstoppable on nearly any grade or surface, in forward or reverse.

g580 ev g class electric
A look at the motor’s dual-range gearing.Aaron Brown

When the G is locked in low-range gearing—by the way, these are actual, not simulated, gears that can be run up to 53 mph and have a reduction ratio of 2:1—the driver can choose one of three preset speeds for tackling obstacles ahead. This system allows the G580 to press on uphill or flat surfaces at speeds of up to 5 mph or in a controlled descent downhill with ease. It’ll even do it backward. You can override the system at any time, but when pushing up sketchy trails, it’s nice to focus on steering and wheel placement rather than manually modulating the throttle. Low-range gearing and hill-descent control are nothing new in the off-road world, but this implementation feels like an evolution and makes off-roading slightly less nerve-racking.

The EV’s “G-Steering” function also became a favorite of mine. It drastically improves the G-wagen off-roading experience. When the setting is engaged, the truck modulates the individual speeds of the rear wheels to help squeeze around tight corners off-road. It works extremely well. Turns out, it also makes for a fun drift mode in the mud, though it’ll only play up to 15 mph. I should also mention that while getting acquainted (messing around) with this feature, I managed to throw the truck’s front end deep into heavy mud. That’s my fault, though, not the truck’s. Oops!

mercedes benz g 580 ev stuck in mud
I got a little too excited. Sorry.Aaron Brown

Of course, if you’ve seen any promotional material for the electric G-class, you’re probably also wondering about the “G-Turn” feature. I’m not sold on this one. It works just as it should, and it’s definitely the most fun party trick of the bunch, but unless you’re on some extremely flat and open trails, you probably won’t be using it. But, sure, it’s cool.

I wouldn’t hesitate to off-road the G580. That is, as long as there are some fast EV chargers nearby.

Who’s It For?

This thing will sell extremely well. It will pack the driveways and parking garages of the Hollywood Hills, South Beach, the Upper East Side, Knightsbridge, Dubai, and any urban environment where the wealthy lie. It has the unbeatable, deserved status of the G-wagen, the intrigue and better-than-you image of the newest Teslas, almost enough gimmicky features to one-up the neighbor’s Cybertruck, and the comfort, capability, and quality of any modern Mercedes-Benz. There’s nothing to hate.

g580 ev g class electric
Aaron Brown

If you have any doubt, Mercedes-AMG and G-class boss Michael Schiebe told R&T that Bradley Cooper and Kendall Jenner are already in line for the G580. And, no. They’re not getting them for free.

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