First Drive: Mercedes-Benz G 580 EV—A Rough Ride on the Road to Innovation

' all-electric G 580 promises off-road prowess but presents a challenging drive on urban terrains, sparking debates on its adaptation of luxury to sustainability.

  • The Mercedes-Benz G 580, the brand's first all-electric G-Class model, excels off-road but struggles with on-road performance.
  • Despite a powerful 579 hp electric engine, the G 580's handling is hampered by its heavy, nearly 7,000-pound frame, leading to a jouncy ride even at low speeds.
  • Features unique off-roading capabilities with individual electric motors on each wheel, enhancing its performance on rugged terrains.
  • Lacks the advanced suspension technology found in its gas-powered counterpart, the G 63 AMG, raising questions about its on-road suitability.

Unruly dynamics in an urban setting

Anticipation was high for the Mercedes-Benz G 580, an electric version of the beloved G-Class. Known for its distinct, boxy design and robust performance, the G-Class has been a symbol of luxury off-road capability. However, the transition to electric has introduced new challenges, primarily the SUV's behavior on paved roads.

The G 580's substantial weight and high center of gravity contribute to a sense of instability at moderate speeds. Unlike the smoother, more controlled ride of the G 63 AMG with its electro-hydraulic suspension, the G 580 often feels difficult to maneuver, with noticeable pitch and roll even on smooth surfaces.

Comparative performance with the G 63 AMG

Driving the electric G 580 back-to-back with the G 63 AMG highlights significant differences. The G 63, equipped with a specialized suspension system, offers a markedly smoother ride that seems almost disconnected from the rugged capabilities the G-Class is known for. In contrast, the G 580, while maintaining the brand's off-road prowess, lacks this refinement, which becomes especially apparent on city roads and highways.

Michael Schiebe, CEO of Mercedes' AMG performance sub-brand, suggests that certain high-end features are reserved for more expensive models, which has led to the G 580 missing out on the advanced suspension technology that could enhance its on-road performance.

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Off-road capabilities remain a strong point

Where the G 580 shines is in its off-road capabilities. Each wheel is powered by its own electric motor, allowing for precise power distribution, crucial for navigating challenging terrains. This setup not only matches but in some cases, exceeds the traditional mechanical setups of the gas-powered versions.

The vehicle's ability to wade through deeper water—up to 33.5 inches compared to the 27.5 inches of its internal combustion engine (ICE) counterparts—is a testament to the advantages of its electric architecture. The inclusion of real-time suspension articulation graphics and strategic camera placements further aids in navigating difficult terrains, making the G 580 a formidable off-road vehicle.

Innovative features with mixed practicality

The G 580 also introduces some unique features aimed at enhancing its maneuverability in tight spaces. The ‘G Turn' functionality, for instance, allows the SUV to rotate on its axis, showcasing an impressive party trick that, while entertaining, may find limited real-world application. Similarly, the ‘G Steering' feature helps in tight cornering by manipulating the wheel speeds for sharper turns.

These innovations, although notable, underscore the vehicle's focus on off-road and novelty features, possibly at the expense of everyday driving comfort and stability.

Ultimately, the all-electric Mercedes-Benz G 580 represents a bold step into the future of luxury off-roading. It maintains the brand's commitment to unparalleled off-road technology while embracing electric power. However, its on-road performance might leave enthusiasts and longtime G-Class fans wanting, highlighting the delicate balance between advancing technology and maintaining the essence of what has made the G-Class a beloved icon over the years.

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Written by Emmy

Hi there, I'm Emmy, your go-to electric vehicle enthusiast and writer for With a deep-seated passion for sustainable technology and a greener planet, I've spent years exploring the ins and outs of electric vehicles (EVs). From the latest models and groundbreaking technologies to insights on EV policies and environmental impacts, I'm here to share everything you need to know about the electric revolution. Join me as we navigate the electrifying world of EVs, uncovering the future of transportation that's not just about getting from A to B, but doing so in a way that's kinder to our planet.

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