Mercedes G580 electric revealed: German carmaker takes plunge with battery-powered SUV

Propulsion for the all-terrain vehicle comes from four individually controlled motors

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In theory, this may seem a bit like combining filet mignon with vegan ice cream. In other words, a platter that you won’t find in any restaurant menu.

Mercedes-Benz has just unveiled its new G 580 with EQ Technology, with the rather lengthy moniker denoting the fact that the new G-Wagen (short for Gelandewagen – German for all-terrain vehicle) is propelled by a full-electric powertrain.

Purists might recoil in horror that their beloved, tradition-steeped, ladder-frame dune tamer now houses a battery pack and four electric motors instead of a burbling V8. However, we knew this was coming as Mercedes previewed the vehicle as the Concept EQG at the 2021 IAA Munich Motor Show, with company chief executive Ola Kallenius explaining at the time that the brand was embracing electrified powertrains across its range.

And yet, electric motors might seem out of place in a bona-fide all-terrainer that was conceived half a century ago to venture far beyond where civilisation ends.

Encouragingly, the G 580 with EQ Technology retains the core building blocks that make the G-Wagen such a titan in tough terrain. The vehicle is still underpinned by a rugged ladder-frame chassis that’s built to take a pounding, and the rear wheels are still connected by a beefy solid axle. There’s also low-range gearing to enable the boxy wagon to crawl over boulders and through sticky swamps.

Housed under the passenger cell is a 116kWh battery pack that provides a claimed touring range of 473km on a full charge (expect a lower figure in real-world conditions). The weighty battery is protected by a torsion-resistant casing to protect it from water and dirt intrusion, while underbody protection made of carbon and other materials is designed to shield it from knocks and bashes out in the wilds.

A novel solution for the G 580 is that its propulsion comes from four individually controlled electric motors, each of which is located near the wheels. These motors are integrated into the ladder-frame and deliver combined outputs of 588hp and 1,164Nm.

It needn’t be an almost silent drive, either, as the G 580 with EQ Technology features a G-Roar sound experience whereby a choice of synthetically generated soundtracks can fill in the aural void resulting from the absence of a rumbling V8.

On paper, the G 580 has impressive off-road credentials, as the robustly built SUV is equipped with virtual differential locks to help it find traction on surfaces where there’s little on offer. Novel features include G-Turn and G-Steering, which enable the vehicle to virtually turn on the spot on loose or unpaved surfaces.

The G 580 with EQ Technology is backed by decent off-road stats as it can clamber up 45-degree inclines and remain stable on sideways slopes of up to 35 degrees. With a fording (water crossing) depth of 850mm, the electric G actually outperforms its combustion-powered siblings by 150mm.

Externally, the battery-charged G-Wagen is distinguishable from its conventionally powered siblings via a few subtle design elements. These include a slightly raised bonnet, a spoiler lip on the roof and so-called air curtains in the rear wheel-arch flares. There’s also a bespoke box on the rear that houses the recharging cables in lieu of a spare wheel. Customers wishing to go further can also specify an optional black-panel radiator grille.

The G 580 with EQ Technology can be recharged via alternating current (you can install an 11kW wall box in your garage if you live in a villa with three-phase power supply) or via a DC fast-charging facility whereby a 32-minute zap can take the state of charge from 10 to 80 per cent.

The G-Wagen can also recharge (to a degree) on the go as the vehicle’s kinetic energy is converted into electrical energy when coasting and braking. The driver can select one of five recuperation levels, with the strongest of these enabling one-pedal driving as the vehicle decelerates almost as though the brake pedal is depressed the instant pressure is released on the throttle.

On paper, it seems Mercedes-Benz has ticked plenty of boxes with the electrified G, but a few question marks remain. For example, what do you do if you’re stranded out in the dunes or perched on a rocky precipice with the battery drained of all its charge?

We may get to find out first-hand in a few months as the G 580 with EQ Technology is due on sale in the UAE in the fourth quarter of this year.

Heiko Guenther, director of sales, customer services and business transformation at Mercedes, says: “We are delighted by the positive response to the new electrified G-Class. Evident from the enthusiasm to join a long waitlist, customers in the UAE are eager to drive the change and be at the forefront of this shift in automotive history."

Updated: April 26, 2024, 6:44 AM