The Electric Mercedes G-Wagen Is the Best G-Wagen

Laurance Yap
June 14, 2024
An iconic luxury off-roader is going electric. Beloved of militaries and celebrities, the Mercedes-Benz G-Wagen is now available with four electric motors, a 116-kWh battery, and even more off-road ability than its gasoline counterparts.
blue Mercedes-Benz electric G-Wagen driving

Mercedes-Benz G580 with EQ Technology

The Mercedes-Benz G-class (more colloquially called the G-Wagen) is an off-road icon. Beloved by militaries, outdoor enthusiasts, and celebrities alike, its distinctive shape, bank-vault build quality, and extreme off-road capability have made it truly unique in the world of SUVs. Its luxury and rock-crawling talents have traditionally been gasoline or diesel-powered, with most of the G-Wagens sold in the U.S. being powered by gas-guzzling V8 engines. That’s all about to change, as the latest G-Wagen is now available as a fully electric SUV – and what’s more, the electric G-Wagen is the best G-Wagen you can buy.

electric Mercedes G-Wagen headlights

Electric Mercedes G-Wagen

Officially called the Mercedes-Benz G580 with EQ Technology (what a mouthful!), the electric G-Wagen retains the distinctive angular shape that made it famous, but the EV version is distinguished by a number of unique details. Up front, the radiator grille, used to cool the gasoline engines that are still available, are replaced by a black panel outlined with animated LED lighting.

The hood is raised for better aerodynamics, and there are slots in the side of the vehicle that create “air curtains” around the wheels to improve range – which is also enhanced by roof pillars have special smooth cladding and a new rear spoiler. And instead of a spare tire hanging on the rear door, there’s a sleek carrier box that holds the charging cable.

Walk up to the new electric G-class, and the animated lights play a “welcome” animation; open one of the front doors, and the Mercedes logo is projected onto the ground. Inside, the design theme is familiar to anyone that’s experienced a G-Wagen before: the shapes are simple and minimal, but with superb materials throughout, including open-pore natural walnut wood, nappa leather, and real metal accents.

Design elements for the electric G580 include square-edged air vents and a dual-screen display running the latest generation of Mercedes’ MBUX infotainment software. One special feature: a “transparent hood” function that uses cameras to display a view on the screen of what the driver can’t see past the edge of the G580’s physical hood.

sand colored Electric G-Wagen

Electric G-Wagen: Four Electric Motors for Off-Roading

That transparent hood function should prove to be particularly useful off-road, where the G-Wagen has always excelled. Gasoline models have traditionally relied on low-range transfer cases and locking differentials for their extreme ability in extreme situations, but the electric G580 uses new technology that makes it even more capable, as well as easier to drive. There are four electric motors – one for each wheel – tucked into the G-Wagen’s rugged ladder frame, which allow the power to each wheel to be controlled individually to maximize traction and stability. Because the electric motors offer incredible torque, low range gearing is a simple electronic program, making the most difficult off-road terrain easier to navigate.

Moreover, the four motors, which provide a total output of 579 hp and 858 lb-ft of torque, also enable a number of functions only available in the electric G-class. These include “G-steering” which speeds up the motors on the outside wheels to enable a significantly smaller turning circle off-road; an intelligent off-road crawl function with three selectable speeds; and a “G-turn” function that allows the vehicle to almost pirouette on the spot on loose or unpaved surfaces.

Mercedes-Benz Electric G580: Range and Charging

Like the gasoline G-Wagens, the electric G580 remains stable on sideways slopes of up to 35 degrees, and its ability to cross water is even better – indeed, its maximum wading depth is more than six inches greater, because the electric motors don’t have air intakes that could suck in water. Robust under-body protection provides the electric drivetrain the same level of security as gasoline G-class models.

On the road, the four electric motors create a calmer, more luxurious ambiance than gasoline-powered G63 and G580 models, their smooth and silent running making it even easier to enjoy the high-end Burmester sound system and the luxurious seating. It is also fast – 0-62 mph takes less than five seconds. The standard 116-kWh battery packs 216 cells in 12 modules throughout the chassis, giving an estimated range of 293 miles*, according to the European WLTP testing cycle; expect that number to be around 270 miles* on the U.S. EPA’s more rigorous testing regime.

From a charging perspective, the new electric G-Wagen can charge at home on a Level 2 charger at up to 11 kW – faster than most EVs – and on a Level 3 public charger, it can reach 200 kW, which is fast, but not class-leading. Still, that charging speed, coupled with the large battery, still means you should be able to go from 10 to 80 percent charge in about half an hour on a compatible charger.

Pre-conditioning works with the navigation system to ensure the battery is ready to receive a charge quickly on the go, and you can program the electric G580 to pre-heat or pre-cool the cabin while it’s still plugged in. Selectable levels of regenerative braking also let you tailor the driving feel, with an “auto” mode using the vehicle’s sensors to adjust regenerative braking according to traffic conditions.

frontier interior of MercedesBenz Electric G580

Driver Assists in the Mercedes G-Wagen

Naturally, the electric G-Wagen comes with the full suite of Mercedes-Benz advanced driver assists, including:

  • Adaptive cruise control, which maintains a safe following distance from the vehicle in front
  • Active steering assist, which can gently nudge the steering to help keep the vehicle centered in the driving lane on a long drive
  • Active brake assist, which can warn the driver about an impending collision and automatically apply the brakes to avoid a crash or to minimize the impact
  • Emergency stop assist, which can bring the vehicle to a standstill if the vehicle recognizes the driver is not actively driving the vehicle
  • Attention assist, which can recognize driver fatigue or inattention and suggest taking a break
  • Blind spot assist
  • Parking package with 360-degree camera, overhead view, and the ability for the vehicle to park itself in certain circumstances

The Mercedes-Benz G580 with EQ Technology has just launched in Europe with a starting MSRP of just under 200,000 Euros. A U.S. MSRP has yet to be announced, but expect little change from a quarter-million dollars once it launches in our market later this year.

*All mileage is EPA-estimated