Mercedes-Benz Reveals Finer Details of its All-Electric G-Class SUV

Mercedes-Benz all-electric G-Class SUV

The mighty, and iconic, G-Wagen has gone electric, aiming to prove that zero emissions and prodigious power can be easy bedfellows.

After years of teasing, and even some show demonstrations, Mercedes-Benz has finally unveiled the production version of its all-electric G-Class SUV. In a break from current Mercedes nomenclature, in which battery electric vehicles (BEVs) are designated by the EQ prefix, the model letter, some numbers, a drivetrain description, and maybe a body type (e.g. EQS 580 4MATIC SUV, EQS 450 4MATIC Sedan), the electric G is simply called the G 580.

This is because the G-Class is a rectilinear icon, one that has been on sale globally for over 45 years with minimal stylistic changes, and one that cannot be confused with any other vehicle in the marque’s forever-metastasizing lineup. “There is only one G,” Mercedes-Benz’s chief technical officer Markus Schäfer tells Robb Report. “And now, there’s a G with an internal-combustion engine, and there’s an electric G. Same car. More-or-less same platform. Small modifications.”  

Citation Longitude
Citation Longitude
The all-electric Mercedes-Benz G 580. © Mercedes-Benz

Some of these minor mods can be readily detected. There is a solid blacked-out grille up front, with a light beam surrounding the three-pointed star. There is also a slightly higher hood up front, an air-curtain cutout at the rear wheel arch, new trim around the windshield, and a spoiler lip on the roof strip. These are all allegedly intended as aerodynamic aids, which seems counterintuitive in a vehicle with the drag coefficient of a convention center. And instead of the hard case at the back serving to carry the spare tire, it’s now a color-keyed box that houses the charger cables for the onboard battery.

The interior reflects the same refresh given to that of the gas-powered G-Wagen, which includes updated electronics and new driver aids. © Mercedes-Benz

Inside, things are pretty much the same as gas-powered Gs, which have just been treated to an interior refresh. “We’ve upgraded the electronics in the car, the telematics, and brought in new driver assistance in the car,” Schäfer explains. This includes higher-resolution screens in the instrument panel and center console, wireless cell-phone chargers, heated-and-cooled cupholders, active lane assist, emergency stop assist, and new displays that show what is in front of you and under the car. Also, the electric G is claimed to produce a patented G-ROAR soundtrack when underway. And while we haven’t been privy to hearing it yet, we’re expecting something like a Moog synthesizer clearing its gravely throat. 

The G 580 retains the in-cabin cargo-carrying capacity of its gas-guzzling sibling. © Mercedes-Benz

There is one key interior difference between internal-combustion and battery-powered Gs. The row of three hard buttons that typically controls the off-road-capable locking front, center, and rear differentials on the ICE-powered G have been updated. These buttons now control the G’s show-pony features, ones that allow it to crab walk, skid around tight corners, or crawl at a steady speed on off-road terrain.

But owners won’t miss the locking diffs, as the G 580 supposedly mimics their caprine prowess with complex electronics. A motor at each wheel is equipped with a shiftable two-speed gearbox that allows it to simulate a low range, and any one wheel can receive all the vehicle’s power, if needed for traction. The electric G can also disconnect its two front motors to preserve range if power, torque, or traction is not needed up there. In sport mode, though, all four motors are always connected, giving the model variant a claimed sprint from zero to 60 mph in less than 5 seconds, courtesy of the vehicle’s 579 hp and 859 ft lbs of torque.

The battery-powered G 580 is claimed to reach 60 mph from a standstill in less than 5 seconds. © Mercedes-Benz

This thrust is fed by a 116 kWh battery, which is stacked in the floor beneath the cabin. In the rare event that an owner takes their G 580 off-roading, this pack is guarded by an undercarriage encasement, a measure installed to prevent the battery from getting punctured and bursting into intractable flames. The housing was developed to also allow it to be submerged, providing the G 580 with the same wading depth as its ICE counterpart. However, one already-known difference in capabilities is the breakover angle—the ground clearance at the very center of the vehicle—which is less in the electric version.

The G 580 will likely have a starting price in the neighborhood of €140,000. © Mercedes-Benz

Mercedes estimates that the battery pack will contribute to a range of “over 230 miles” when it’s tested by the EPA, certainly not stellar as that’s even less than the range of the Rolls-Royce Spectre. This is roughly the same distance as the round-trip drive from TriBeCa to East Hampton in New York, a unit of measure known colloquially as “a weekend.” And, while the G 580 retains the in-cabin cargo-carrying capacity of its gas-guzzling sibling, it sadly does not gain one of the key benefits of an electric car: a front trunk. That area is full of equipment—a missed opportunity in a model that’s purposed to be a utilitarian adventure rig.

With a starting price that will likely be around $150,000 (€140,000), the G 580 seems to be for those who want to signal a semblance of environmental virtue without giving up the allure of aggressive military drag. Whether there has been any compromise in practicality and performance will be revealed when we get some time behind the wheel.

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