The Mercedes-Benz G-Class is a rolling paradox. Among the most capable off-roaders on the planet, you're far more likely to spot one parked outside a Chanel storefront than crawling up a dry creekbed. Its style has hardly changed since 1979, yet fans of the machine pay huge premiums to be first in line for each subsequent generation. It was a machine designed for German military use, yet sunny California is its biggest global market.

For a vehicle that makes so little sense, there's something very right about driving a G, and after spending a day behind the wheel of all three flavors of the new generation, I'm happy to report that the new electric version is the rightest of the bunch. Mercedes somehow managed to maintain that heritage and prestige while porting it over to a new, radical EV powertrain that's even more capable.

(Full disclosure: Mercedes flew me business class to France for the G-Class launch. They put me up in a nice hotel and fed me while I was there.)

Gallery: 2024 Mercedes G 580 With EQ Technology First Drive

Let's start with the basics of the electric G: the name. For the record (and to please the SEO gods), Benz's electric off-roader is formally called the Mercedes-Benz G 580 with EQ Technology. Mercedes is changing its EV naming scheme with the new G, dropping the full “EQ” names used on products like the EQE and EQS

Why? Because out of all of Mercedes' modern EVs, the EQ flavor of the G is closest to its internal combustion sibling. It rolls on the same basic chassis design, a pair of frame rails running fore to aft upon which that classically styled body sits. The body is barely different than the inline-six- and V8-powered models, too, with just a few subtle tweaks made in the name of aerodynamics (and reduced wind noise).

The flat grille up front is the most significant styling delta from those other versions, but buyers can opt to get the more traditional four-bar design if they prefer. That leaves only the EQ badges on the fenders, the (optional) squircle-shaped storage bin where the spare tire usually goes and the lack of exhaust pipes to differentiate the electric version.

2024 Merceds G 580 With EQ Technology First Drive -- Electric G-Class

Big changes, hidden

So the outside is barely changed, but hoist that body back off its frame, and you'll see something radically different underneath. Slung between those frame rails is a 116-kilowatt-hour battery pack split into 12 modules, using the same basic cell design as those found in the EQS but arranged in a different orientation.

The cells here are positioned in two layers, with cooling running above, beneath and between to create a sort of active thermal sandwich. No, these aren't the fancy Titan Silicon cells Mercedes has been talking up. Those won't come until next year on a future flavor of the G. 

2024 Merceds G 580 With EQ Technology First Drive -- Electric G-Class

The underpinnings of the electric G-Wagen.

As you might expect, that battery pack has seen some extensive ruggedization upgrades compared to Mercedes-Benz's on-road offerings. It's fully waterproofed, of course, and has received extra protective cladding. A Mercedes engineer told me that the carbon composite plate that covers the pack is so strong the entire weight of the electric G-Class (which is roughly 6,800 pounds, for the record) can rest on a point just 0.7 inches in diameter without damaging the pack.

Fitting that pack in there required excising the three lateral supports that typically connect the two frame rails on the G-Class, but that battery pack actually results in a chassis that, per Mercedes' development engineers, is significantly stiffer than before. 

2024 Merceds G 580 With EQ Technology First Drive -- Electric G-Class

Quad Motors

Stiffness is well and good, but the real magic is in what makes the G move. The G 580 doesn't make do with just two electric motors like your average high-performance EV. This has four motors in a configuration unlike anything else on the road.

Yes, you can get quad-motor setups in other machines like the Rivian R1T, and Mercedes' own SLS AMG Electric Drive from a few years back. So what makes this different? Not only are there four motors here, but four transmissions, too. The electric G has a real high- and low-range, just like the gasoline-powered versions.

That means the G-Class can stay well within the peak torque of those electric motors regardless of whether you're cruising down the Autobahn or crawling up a ridiculous incline. It's 859 pound-feet of torque, to be exact, and 579 horsepower, enough to bring this thing up to 62 mph from a standstill in 4.7 seconds. 

Mercedes-Benz EQG

Drive Type Quad-motor AWD
Output 579 hp
Maximum torque 859 lb-ft
Transmission 2-speed automatic, one transmission per wheel
Battery 116 kWh Lithium-ion
Charge Time DCFC: 10-80% in 32 minutes
Weight 6,800 lbs
Speed 0-62 MPH 4.7 seconds
Maximum speed 112 mph (limited)
Base Price TBA
EV Range 294 miles on WLTP Cycle. EPA figure TBA


In addition to brutal acceleration, having four motors means the G 580 can do some amazing tricks, including dragging its inside rear wheel to enable sharper turning, and even spinning 180 degrees within its own axis (like Rivian's canceled "Tank Turn" feature). In the Mercedes marketing materials, these always seemed like gimmicks.

It only took a few minutes on the trails to convince me that they're not only useful, but will prove to be game-changers for serious off-roaders.

2024 Merceds G 580 With EQ Technology First Drive -- Electric G-Class

New dimensions in off-roading

I started my day off-roading in the Mercedes-Benz G 500, the inline-six version of the new G-Class. Whether creeping up sheer rock faces or traversing muddy fields, it was amazingly sure-footed, never lacking in grip or power.

It was, however, a bit awkward in the tight stuff. That really shouldn't be a surprise given the dimensions of this vehicle. It’s 15.2 feet long. Navigating the ever-tightening terrain meant constantly having to engage and disengage the front and rear locking differentials.

With the electric G 580 with EQ Technology, things were so much easier. There are no differentials to lock because there aren't any differentials. Each motor has its own power, so you never have to worry about one wheel hanging in the air and spinning wildly without its cross-axle partner getting any power. On one section of climb designed to elevate opposing wheels, the G just powered up without hesitation. 

2024 Merceds G 580 With EQ Technology First Drive -- Electric G-Class

But the most enlightening parts were when the trail turned back on itself. A quick tap on a dedicated button on the center console enabled G-Steering mode. This locks the inside rear wheel, which pulls the nose around far more quickly and slides the rear out if you provide acceleration. It feels a little like drifting at five mph, which is fun enough but, more importantly, enables the big G to swing around hairpin bends impossibly quickly.

The hallmark, though, is the G-Turn. Here, you simply pick your direction of rotation, hold down the appropriate paddle behind the steering wheel, and floor it. The massive SUV then executes a perfect pirouette, up to two full rotations worth, plenty enough to get you out of trouble while also securing those crucial extra points from the German judge. You're unlikely to ever need more than 180 degrees in the real world, and for situations where an aggressive trail unexpectedly ends, it could be a lifesaver.

And, yes, they're great fun, too.

Those tricks are available only on the electric G, which—thanks to a slight increase in ride height over the gasoline-powered versions—offers even greater approach and departure angles of 32 and 30.7 degrees, respectively. Only the breakover angle of 20.3 is reduced from the other models, down from 26. 

2024 Merceds G 580 With EQ Technology First Drive -- Electric G-Class

On-road monster

So the all-electric G 580 with EQ Technology is measurably better off-road. It’s impossibly capable when the terrain seems impassable. But remember, this machine is prized more for its on-road presence than off-road prowess. How does it fare in that regard?

Well, it's a bit complicated. From the looks department, again, there's little to differentiate this electric G from the rest. But, where the high-performance AMG G 63 version makes big sound to go along with its big power, the G 580, of course, can be completely silent.

To address that, Mercedes-Benz has added what it unfortunately calls G-Roar. This is a set of audio experiences designed to add some noise to the combustion-free driving experience. In Comfort mode, G-Roar is a subtle thing, just a light thrum in the background when you accelerate hard. 

2024 Merceds G 580 With EQ Technology First Drive -- Electric G-Class

Switch over to Sport mode, however, and the G-Roar is impossible to ignore. It’s a bellowing sound clearly inspired by big-displacement AMGs, but with a futuristic spin. It’s not quite loud, but certainly noticeable.

The G 580 also has a slight idle sound, even playing a bit of an engine-like fanfare when you hit the ignition, which you can hear from inside or outside the thing. I find this a bit distasteful, but thankfully, it's easy enough to disable it.

Crucially, whenever you enable one of the myriad off-road driving modes, G-Roar is automatically disabled. This allows silent running on the trails, which is a blissful thing. Off-roading in silence is more akin to hiking than motorsports, a serene experience that changes everything. I highly recommend it.

So, it does not lack presence. But the G 580 does have one area where it can't match either the G 500 or AMG G 63: suspension and overall handling. The electric 580 offers very supple and comfortable ride quality in either mode of its adaptive suspension, but if anything, it seems the Mercedes engineers went a little too far.

It feels under-damped. It's too soft, too floaty. No G is great at on-road handling, but this electric one has a vague feeling about it that's absent in the other versions. 

Another potential disappointment for some will be the range. Mercedes hasn't yet provided an EPA estimate for the machine, but based on the European WLTP rating of 293 miles, you can probably estimate something on the order of 250 miles for the US EPA rating.

That's not a lot for a modern EV that costs this much, but it's plenty for this car's typical clientele. When it comes to off-road range, Mercedes estimates that the G 580 will out-last even the most iron-bottomed of drivers. It drove up and down the Schöckl mountain 14 times on a single charge, a feat that took well over 24 hours. 

2024 Merceds G 580 With EQ Technology First Drive -- Electric G-Class

Final Details

For me, the electric Gleandewagen's limited on-road range is far from a dealbreaker. This is a machine meant for cruising on the road and crushing it off-road, and the G 580 excels in both areas. It's incredibly comfortable and serene on the road, and it's outrageously capable when that road ends. It's an epic, enviable all-rounder, and finally one that you can drive without the hit to your conscience of its gas-powered predecessors.

It will still, though, impart a substantial hit to your wallet. Mercedes-Benz still hasn't provided U.S. pricing for the G 580 with EQ Technology, but in Europe, the fully-loaded Edition One models, which come in one of a few limited colors and also include the AMG Line styling package and 20-inch AMG wheels, start at roughly the same price as an entry-level Mercedes-AMG G 63.

That might mean an MSRP for the First Edition models of somewhere around $180,000 and an eventual base price north of $150,000. Yes, that's a lot, but again, this isn't really a machine for those who worry about such things. Regardless, the G 580 with EQ Technology is an insanely comprehensive package and the best G-Class yet.

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