High-end off-roader gets an EV variant with a motor for each wheel and a big battery

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If it looks like a G-Class, drives like a G-Class and sounds like a G-Class (more on that later), then it probably is a G-Class. The first electric G-Class – or, to use its clumsy proper name, the Mercedes-Benz G580 with EQ Technology – sits alongside the regular Mercedes G-Class as well as the Mercedes-AMG G63 and Merc really wants you to just see this as a G-Class first and a powertrain variant second.

And you know what? The Stuttgart firm has nailed it. It has even objectively improved the formula in some areas. The EV version is certainly a lot torquier than the G63, quieter than the regular G-Class and better off road than either.

But we’re really not looking at the most objective, straightforward or sensible car in the world here.

Its buyers are pretty tough to pigeonhole. There aren’t many people looking for an electric car that's also an off-roader designed to look like something from the 1940s.

But when you open it up to the broad electric SUV class, the BMW iX is similar money, yet wildly different in outlook, while the Mercedes EQS SUV is an interesting interpretation of luxury that shares the same showroom.

Enthusiasts after off-roading ability with a boxy body (but not necessarily an EV powertrain) are well catered for by the Land Rover Defender and Ineos Grenadier.



mercedes g580 review 2024 02 side panning

In its appearance, it’s certainly a G-Class. Intriguingly, the blanked-off front grille you see in these images isn’t coming to the UK – initially, anyway. It will retain the standard G-Class one.

Other differences, on the outside, between regular G and leccy G are hard to spot. But Mercedes has seen fit to make some changes. 

It gets a slightly raised bonnet and a bit of plastic strip on the A-pillar, the spare tyre on the rear actually houses the charging cables and there are 'air curtains' in the rear wheel-arch flares. All are aimed at optimising aerodynamics and reducing cockpit noise.

The doors have an enlarged vent in the pillar of the car to equalise air pressure. It’s supposed to make the doors easier to close. But they are reassuringly still quite hard to shut, and still make that click/clunk thud.

Underneath, the G580 is the usual ladder frame. The battery (the same cells as in the Mercedes EQS but fitted into a differently shaped pack) is stored in between the chassis rails. It’s not very wide, so the modules are stacked on top of each other, with cooling on either side.

In order to fit this in, Mercedes had to remove three crossbraces, so the battery is now an integral part of the frame. The batteries are low down and underbody protection is paramount for off-road action (or more likely crawling up kerbs to park illegally), so a new carbon-composite plate has been fitted. Thankfully, if it gets damaged, it’s not hard to replace as it’s held on simply with bolts.


mercedes g580 review 2024 10 driving

Once again, still very much a G. It’s a climb into the car and you’re greeted by an upright seating position with a view out over the plebs on the road in their little hatchbacks.

There’s little room up front considering the vehicle's size, seating in the rear is cramped and the rear-view mirror is filled almost entirely with the charging cable box that masquerades as a spare-wheel holder.

It gets Merc’s MBUX infotainment system, comprising twin 12.3in screens: one driver display behind the steering wheel and one infotainment screen. This all works as seamlessly as you’d expect from something this expensive, although Mercedes’ voice assistant is a bit too keen to chime in at times, often stating ‘Sorry, I didn’t get that’ even when the activation button hasn't been pressed.

There are physical buttons for heating controls beneath the big infotainment screen and they work in a conventional and easy way. The wing mirrors are adjusted via a button on the top of the door edges, where you’ll also find window switches and toggles for adjusting the seat.

This set-up is very intuitive and easy to use and you don’t need to take your eyes off the road for most things. You now also get adaptive cruise on a steering wheel button, which again is easy-peasy. Some of the controls on the steering wheel - such as changing the song - are very fiddly, though, because they are small.

The boot, at 555 litres, is down on combustion-engined G-Class models. And it’s still tall and short. So like with the batteries in the ladder frame, you’ll need to stack. There’s no 'frunk' either as the artist formerly known as engine bay is filled with lots of electric stuff, including the tech for the G-Roar (which we'll come on to in a moment).


mercedes g580 review 2024 18 charging port

There’s only one powertrain on offer and no immediate plans for an AMG version. Power is rated at 579bhp and torque at 859lb ft. This makes it only marginally less potent than the G63.

Two motors are centrally housed in the front, with the other two at the rear. Each 145bhp unit powers one wheel, but they are not actually located inside them.

I’ve been amused by numerous online comments guffawing at the G580’s 0-62mph time of ‘merely’ 4.7sec, which really shows a gross misunderstanding of what the G-Class is about. Rest assured, if you’re genuinely concerned that this EV might be slow, I can attest that it has Tarmac-destroying accelerative potential from most speeds.

Braking, meanwhile, is smooth and the pedal’s feel is consistent. The strength of regeneration is handled by steering wheel paddles.

But we should really discuss G-Roar - Mercedes’ artificial engine noise. It is not like BMW’s futuristic soundscape. It broadly sounds a bit like a toned-down AMG. If you had someone in the car who didn’t know it was electric and they weren’t a petrolhead, they might just think that it was petrol. Which I guess is a compliment to Mercedes’ engineers.


mercedes g580 review 2024 20 off road

A lot of people have become obsessed with how the weight of EVs affects their ride but, to be frank, the G-Class has always felt like a bit of a truck, and now finally it weighs the same as one.

It feels heavy in terms of ride composure and steering and the time it takes between you giving instructions via the steering wheel and the wheels beneath you doing anything. But it doesn’t feel like three tonnes kind of heavy.

The low-speed ride is where it’s most felt. It judders over prolonged uneven surfaces and crashes about over large speed bumps.

Increasing your speed helps things out a great deal, but it’s no Range Rover at pace. There’s still a pronounced shaking of your backside in the leather seat.

A lot of wind noise too. The electric powertrain is very quiet and refined, but that only exaggerates the disturbance getting through to the cockpit.

A decent set of S-bends gives you a bit of a workout. There’s power steering and the wheel itself isn’t too heavy (although it can be quite heavy in Sport mode), but the sheer amount of lock needed can become quite tiring if you’re pushing it.

Off road

Most Mercedes engineers I’ve spoken to reckon the electric G is better off road than the 'regular' car. Objectively, it is.

It gets independent front suspension and a solid rear axle like the combustion G. But wading depth is 850mm, some 150mm more than ICE-powered models. Mercedes says unofficially these numbers are on the conservative side too. Torque is greater as well, and the four different electric motors can help out off road. 

Then there’s the show-off bits. The window dressing, the icing on the cake, the electric equivalent of that G63’s V8 noise.

First up is G-Steering. It can significantly reduce the turning circle by braking an inside wheel and sending more power to an outside one. It’s supposed to get you round a tight bend but you can also use it for skids, which is wicked. I suspect people will use it for skids.

There’s also the show-stopping feature, called G-Turn. This is where all four motors are used to turn the car (nearly) on the spot. It performs two complete circles before stopping. It’s good fun and is quick, unlike when the YangWang U8 does it. Bit of a gimmick though. It can’t (well, shouldn’t) be used on Tarmac and I suspect most people will forget about it.

Importantly, beyond all of this tech, it really is capable off road. I did the same off-road circuit in a G63 and G580 and you can just feel how effortless the EV is. You don’t need a run-up: the torque (helped by a low-range mode) just handles it.

It only gets virtual diff locks but I really doubt an owner will notice.


mercedes g580 review 2024 01 front cornering

It weighs three tonnes. If you are thinking about that in the context of a zero-local-emissions vehicle, you are thinking too hard.

This is still an ostentatious show of wealth and if you are truly worried about charging costs, you should stop reading this review.

The WLTP range from its enormous 116kWh battery is 294 miles, and it will officially do 2.0-2.2 miles per kWh. We have yet to perform much in the way of range testing, so we will update you once we get the chance. But I reckon a bit less than 2mpkWh sounds about right. Objectively, that’s rubbish, but then when has a G-Class ever been about efficiency? 

Even compared with big electric SUVs, such as the Kia EV9, it’s relatively poor. But we suspect most EV G-Class owners won’t care.

According to Merc, what’s more important is its abilities off road. Which makes sense from a PR perspective, but very little in the real world.

Regardless of what I think, it can tackle the famous Schökl pass 14 times before running out of battery. Whereas the G63 will only be able to do it around six times before needing some super-unleaded.


mercedes g580 review 2024 27 front static

Objectively, the G580 is not a rational choice. It’s expensive (and early cars come in only one spec), it’s a bit clattery on the road, there’s a lot of wind noise and, as far as EVs go, it’s among the least efficient and therefore one of the least green. It's not that practical either.

You may be able to imagine where this conclusion is going. All of these flaws very much make it a proper G product, and a very natural progression in the G lineage.

G has grown from utilitarian, to luxury, to somewhere now where it sits between retro, austentacious and very silly, depending on how you spec it. This electric model fits right in.

Murray Scullion

Murray Scullion
Title: Digital editor

Murray has been a journalist for more than a decade. During that time he’s written for magazines, newspapers and websites, but he now finds himself as Autocar’s digital editor.

He leads the output of the website and contributes to all other digital aspects, including the social media channels, podcasts and videos. During his time he has reviewed cars ranging from £50 - £500,000, including Austin Allegros and Ferrari 812 Superfasts. He has also interviewed F1 megastars, knows his PCPs from his HPs and has written, researched and experimented with behavioural surplus and driverless technology.

Murray graduated from the University of Derby with a BA in Journalism in 2014 and has previously written for Classic Car Weekly, Modern Classics Magazine, buyacar.co.uk, parkers.co.uk and CAR Magazine, as well as carmagazine.co.uk.