When it comes to luxury SUVs, the Mercedes-Benz G-Class is basically in another…class, especially when it comes to its off-roading capabilities. One of the many incredible things it can do is climb an 100% grade. Pretty wild, right?
Now, as it turns out, its ability to haul ass up such a steep incline isn’t just a matter of starting the car up and flooring it. Quite a bit of technical engineering is involved. Which is why it’s fitting that Jason Fenske, host of Engineering Explained, came out with a video attempting to break down the whole process.
As Jalopnik points out, the whole climbing process is a seriously impressive engineering feat.
The first thing to note is that a 100 percent grade doesn’t actually mean you’re driving straight into the air at a 90-degree angle. Instead, it’s a perfect 45-degrees–or, the angle where the forward push of your acceleration and the drag of gravity back on your car equal out. If your car isn’t balanced properly, you’re either going to flip over or just fail to make it up any farther.
On the basic end of things, lots of technical components need to come together to make things happen: an engine and transmission powerful enough to handle driving that intense, a 4WD system to ensure an equal distribution of torque, tires that can actually withstand the forces at play and the way the weight is distributed throughout the car.
Fenske shows that it’s a pretty finicky combination. If you don’t have the right tires, for example (and he doesn’t in the video), you throw off the calculations just enough that you might struggle to make the uphill crawl.
To further break down what’s going on here, Jalopnik even consulted an engineer, who threw out a whole bunch of numbers and equations. Boring!
All you need to know is that the G-Class is an absolute BEAST when it comes to off-roading.