The firm showed its intentions by unveiling the G-Code, an advanced, hydrogen-electric 2+2 hatchback concept.
The G-Code is said to provide tacit clues to a more conventionally engineered high-riding urban-based SUV model already under development at Mercedes. The new SUV is as part of a future-proofing strategy aimed at attracting younger buyers to the traditional luxury car brand.
The innovative new concept was revealed in a ceremony held to celebrate the opening of Mercedes’ new R&D facility in Beijing, China.
The G-Code has been styled in a collaboration between a team at Mercedes’ advanced design centre in China and its main studio in Germany. Inspiration for the compact four-seater comes from what the company’s head of design, Gorden Wagener, describes as “the modern lifestyle of the younger Asian society”.
The contemporary-looking SUV concept has a muscular five-door hatchback body with short overhangs at each end. It adopts elements of Mercedes’ current design language, including a bold twin-blade grille, angular headlamps with G-shaped LED graphics, prominent chamfered arches housing 21-inch wheels, heavily structured surfacing and a one-piece tailgate,
Among the G-Code’s more flamboyant design touches is a canopy-style glasshouse, with the windscreen wrapping around over the A-pillars to give the roof a floating appearance similar to the treatment used by Mini on its more recent models.
The new concept also takes advantage of the lack of a traditional B-pillar by employing coach-style doors at the rear to give unhindered access to the cabin.
For added visual effect, the grille is backlit in one of three colours – blue, purple or red – depending on the chosen driving mode. The designers have also replaced traditional exterior rear-view mirrors with two cameras mounted on retractable arms within the upper section of the A-pillars. A full-length strip of LEDs is also used at the rear, providing illumination for the indicators, tail-lamps and brake lights.
At 4100mm long, 1900mm wide and 1500mm tall, the G-Code is 317mm shorter, 96mm wider and 6mm taller than Mercedes’ existing entry-level SUV, the GLA. This suggests that the company is looking to extend its line-up into a lower class, where the production version of the G-code would possibly compete against such cars as the upcoming Audi Q1.
Compared to the Audi Crosslane Coupé concept, which previewed the Q1, the G-Code is 110mm shorter, 20mm wider and 10mm higher.
Mercedes has yet to fully detail the powerplant showcased in the G-Code. It has only said that it relies on the combination of a “state-of-the-art turbocharged combustion engine that runs on hydrogen” and an “electric motor that drives the rear axle”.
The new hydrogen-electric driveline is a development of that set to appear in the B-class Fuel Cell slated for launch in 2017. It has been conceived to offer three driving modes: all-electric Hybrid eDrive, hydrogen-electric Hybrid Eco, and hydrogen-electric Hybrid Sport.
Depending on the chosen mode, the G-Code can operate in front-wheel drive powered solely by the combustion engine, in rear-wheel drive propelled by the electric motor or in four-wheel drive with both the combustion engine and electric motor.
Drive is channelled through a dual-clutch gearbox and an electronic propshaft that serves to combine the two power sources.
As well as featuring the latest in kinetic energy regeneration and plug-in technology, the G-Code uses two advanced energy-sourcing technologies currently being investigated by Mercedes as a way to provide power for hydrogen synthesis on the move.