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New Mercedes G 580 with EQ Technology ride review: on the road in the electric G-Class

Mercedes has electrified its iconic G-Class, and we’ve been for a ride in the quad-motor, off-road-ready EV prior to its official unveiling

Verdict

Our experience with the electric Mercedes G-Class has underlined that its on-road performance is as good as its off-road credentials. Weighty but accomplished, a battery-powered G-Class might be anathematic to some, but there’s no doubting it’s authentic, and impressive, too.    

It’s been a long time coming, but Mercedes is readying its electrified G-Class for reveal in the coming weeks. Having ridden around a tough off-road course in it previously, we’re now in it for a second time – on the ice lakes and snowy roads of Sweden. Mercedes remains tight-lipped about many details, but even so, this near-production-ready prototype ride is very revealing.

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Sweden is a favourite place for winter tests; its ice lakes perfect for testing stability and traction control systems, and, usefully with the battery-powered G-Class, its durability in extreme temperatures. Mercedes has finally revealed official WLTP consumption figures for it (2-2.3mi/kWh), which should give a range of around 235-270 miles from its anticipated 118kWh battery. That would be in perfect conditions, but during our 180-mile drive route in sub-zero temperatures, the battery-powered G-Class performed flawlessly.  

Along with its consumption figures, Mercedes has confirmed that the new plug-in G-Class will be called the G 580 with EQ Technology, rather than EQG as first assumed. While the name’s a bit of a mouthful, it does reveal where the new electric G-Class sits within the model line-up. It’ll be positioned above the G 500 and G 450 d models, heading the regular production models, but sitting below the forthcoming AMG 63 model. 

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Output is said to be in the region of 430kW, which equates to around 577bhp – split equally between the four motors. Torque is said to be in excess of 1100Nm.

It feels as brisk as those numbers would suggest, too. Mercedes has yet to reveal official performance figures, but the G 580 with EQ Technology should reach 62mph in between five and six seconds, with a top speed of 111mph. 

Assisting at those high speeds is some significantly improved aerodynamics; the G-Class’s brick-like proportions being the enemy of fuel economy. With the changes made to it, including a re-profiled bonnet and A-pillars, a ‘spoiler’ along the top edge of the windscreen, underbody trim and management of the air around the rear wheels created by apertures in the wheel arches, the G 580 drops almost a whole point off the 0.54Cd drag figure of the regular G-Class. Some of these revisions, notably the reshaped a-pillars, reach the combustion-powered G-Class models, creating a tangible improvement in refinement. Wind noise is significantly reduced – unless, of course, you select G-Roar; a sound generator that gives the otherwise silent G-Class a level of aural drama.  

Mercedes is adamant its off-road icon remains exactly that, giving it additional off-road driving modes, as well a tank turning (called G-Turn) function whereby it can spin on its axles.

It rides commendably well on the mixed surfaces we encountered, and feels agile, too; the four motors helping here via torque vectoring. We’ll find out just how impressive it is to actually drive very soon, but our second passenger ride in the battery-powered G-Class reveals that whatever’s powering it, it remains a true G-Class – and in many aspects, a far better G-Class than before.     

Model:Mercedes-Benz G 580 with EQ Technology
Price:TBC
Powertrain:118kWh battery, 4x e-motors
Power/torque:577bhp/1100Nm (est)
Transmission:Single-speed automatic, four-wheel drive
0-62mph:5.0-6.0 seconds (est)
Top speed:111mph (est)
Range:270 miles (est)
Charging:TBC
On saleTBC
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