Here’s Why the Mercedes-Benz G-Wagen Can Climb a 100% Grade

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

Not only that, but Engineering Explained also goes on to explain just how the G-Wagen can climb the 100% grade incline that Mercedes claims it can climb. This feat of German engineering was accomplished with a potent mix of having a powerful engine, an impressive braking system, and some well-designed tires.

A 100% grade

When automakers are talking about the percentage grade of a hill, they’re using the mathematical term for a grade. In short, as Engineering Explained explained, a 100% grade just means a slope that’s at a 45-degree angle. A car driving up that is still very impressive because of the way physics works. 

As he explained, 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 driving on something that is straight-up won’t be able to accelerate at all because gravity’s just going to push the car down. However, a car that’s driving at a 45-degree angle, which is exactly in the middle of both of those extremes, will be stuck between those two forces. 

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


The first step to achieving this feat of engineering is by having an engine that’s powerful enough for the job. The G550 that Engineering Explained drove in the video comes with a 4.0-liter 416-hp V8 and it provides 450 lb-ft of torque. This isn’t a big dumb engine either, as where the engine was placed is a big reason why the G-Wagen can climb a 100% grade slope.

That’s because if the engine was placed outside of the center of gravity of the G-Wagen, then the SUV would tip over if you tried to drive it up a 100% grade incline. That’s why Mercedes placed the engine near the front of the car: so its large mass would anchor the car down as it’s driving up the slope. 


The brakes on this G-Wagen have to be as powerful as the engine too, as otherwise, the force of gravity would hold the car back. In the Engineering Explained video, he tests the brakes out to see just how powerful they were. Despite using the wrong tires for the test, he was still impressed by the G-Wagen’s braking system. 

At 60 mph, he was able to slow the car to a full stop in just 130 feet. At 30 mph, he was able to do that in just 32.5 feet. As he explained, if he had used the correct set of standard high-grip tires, then he would’ve been able to slow the car to a stop much earlier. 


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

It’s because of all these reasons that the G-Wagen can accomplish this impressive feat of accelerating past one g and conquering a 100% grade incline.