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The G-Wagen is one of the most luxurious premium SUVs available. With a hefty price-tag starting at $124,500, it also has a lot of unique features that few SUVs can claim. Sure, there are two powerful V8 engines to choose from, but according to Engineering Explained, it will also make you feel like a supervillain.

Engineering Explained goes on to review just how the G-Wagen can climb the 100% grade incline that Mercedes claims it can. This feat of German engineering was accomplished with a potent mix of a powerful engine, an impressive braking system, and well-designed tires.

A 100% grade

When automakers talk about the percentage grade of a hill, they use the mathematical term for a grade. In short, as Engineering Explained says, a 100% grade just means a slope that’s at a 45-degree angle. A car driving up this slope is still impressive because of how physics works. 

A car that’s driving on a perfectly flat road should be able to accelerate at about one g of force. A car that’s ascending uphill won’t be able to accelerate at all because gravity will push the car down. However, a car driving at a 45-degree angle — exactly in the middle of those extremes — will be stuck between those two forces. 

The only way a car can overcome that tug-of-war is to accelerate with a force of over one g, and that’s exactly what the G-Wagen can do. 

Mercedes-Benz G-Wagen’s power

The first step to this feat involves having an engine that’s powerful enough for the job. The G550 driven in the video comes with a 4.0-liter 416-hp V8, which provides 450 lb-ft of torque. This isn’t a dumb engine either, as the its placement is a big reason why the G-Wagen can climb a 100% grade slope.

If the engine was placed outside the G-Wagen’s center of gravity, then the SUV would tip over as you try to drive it up a 100% grade incline. That’s why Mercedes placed the engine near the front of the car. Its heavy mass anchors the car as it’s driving up the slope. 


The brakes on this G-Wagen have to be as powerful as the engine. Otherwise, the force of gravity would hold the car back. In the Engineering Explained video, he tests the brakes to see their power. Despite using the wrong tires, he was still impressed by the G-Wagen’s braking system. 

At 60 miles per hour, he could slow the car to a full stop in just 130 ft. At 30 miles per hour, he was able to do that in just 32.5 ft. If he’d used the correct set of standard high-grip tires, then he could’ve slowed the car to a stop much earlier. 


The reason why those high-grip tires are necessary is simple. A high-grip tire will hold onto a slope much more easily than the tires he drove during the test. That way, driving up the incline becomes easier as the force of gravity fights against the tires’ grip. Again, those high-grip tires come standard with the G-Wagen, so it was unlucky that Engineering Explained drove with alternative tires.

All these reasons make it possible for the G-Wagen to accomplish the impressive feat of conquering a 100% grade incline.