Currently reading: Mercedes primes luxury EQG electric G-Class 4x4
Electric G-Wagen will harness EQS battery and motors for supreme off-road capability by 2024
Autocar-Felix-Page
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4 mins read
16 August 2021

Mercedes-Benz will preview the long-mooted electrification of its G-Class SUV with a concept at the Munich motor show that will spearhead the roll-out of a 4x4 sub-brand.

It has been nearly two years since CEO Ola Källenius confirmed that the Magna-built Land Rover Defender rival – launched in 1979 as the G-Wagen – would gain an allelectric variant, also predicting that “the last Mercedes built will be a G-Class”.

Mercedes Concept EQG revealed at Munich

A production version is due in 2024, by which point most of the mainstream models in the Mercedes line-up will be available with electric power.

The Munich show car is expected to reveal how the G-Class will be restyled and reconfigured for the electric age, with design and interior cues that closely preview the final production model – much like how 2019’s Vision EQS concept proved a prelude to the new EQS luxury limousine.

Given how subtly the G-Class has evolved since its arrival 42 years ago, it is unlikely that Mercedes will reinvent its characteristically rugged two-box design, but a host of new styling cues that bring it into line with other EQ-badged models are expected.

A new-shape, one-piece front grille will be the chief differentiator over the ICE-powered car, as is the case for the GLB-based EQB, but new wheel designs and light clusters and a revamped rear end will help to distinguish the EQG from the G-Class.

The EQG’s off-road potential was demonstrated in 2020 by the EQC 4x4² concept – an outlandish one-off reworking of Mercedes’ first bespoke EV, which served as a technical showcase for a family of new electric off-roaders that the firm will sell under its newly formed G sub-brand.

Raised suspension and chunky black lower-body trim were the obvious visual giveaways, but it was the ground clearance-enhancing portal axles (lifted from the jacked-up G500 4x4²) and increased track widths that transformed the luxury-focused EQC into a capable off-roader and most heavily previewed the capabilities of the EQG.

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Development engineer Jürgen Eberle acknowledged that there “remains great enthusiasm for traditional off-roaders” and said the EQC 4x4² showed that such cars can be “fully electric but with EQC 4x4² concept showed ability of BEV off-roaders the ability to go off road in a serious way”, suggesting such a formula is high on the list of priorities for the EQG.

The high torque and instant acceleration provided by an electric powertrain make them ideal for off-road applications, meaning the EQG should stay true to the go-anywhere ethos of the G-Class, which has historically served in various forms with a number of international military forces.

It is thought that Mercedes bosses intended the GLB and its EQB sibling to be marketed as premium, family-friendly off-roaders, in a similar vein to the Land Rover Discovery Sport, but its A-Class-derived, front-wheel-drive MFA2 architecture is more overtly biased towards on-road operations.

As a dedicated off-roader, the EQG is unlikely to use the low-slung EVA architecture that will underpin all new bespoke EVs from Mercedes, instead using an electrified set-up based on the ladder-frame underpinnings from the G-Class.

Adaptations to the chassis will make room for a lithium ion battery pack under the floor, with the G-Class’s extended wheelbase potentially allowing for the 107.8kWh pack fitted to the top-rung EQS, which should allow for a competitive WLTP range – although one not as long as the extremely aerodynamically efficient saloon’s.

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Mercedes has already trademarked the EQG 560 and EQG 580 names, which suggests that the off-road EV will be offered with the same 516bhp, 631lb ft twin-motor set-up as the top-rung version of the EQS, as well as a lesserpowered entry-level set-up.

Given the model’s focus on all-terrain ability, a rear-driven EQG 450 is unlikely, but rear-wheel steering, as fitted to its saloon sibling, would bolster the EQG’s off-road ability and in-town manoeuvrability.

All EQG variants are expected to maintain a premium focus, given that Mercedes will market G-badged models under the ‘Adventurous Luxury’ banner, meaning we won’t see the EQG offered in bare-bones, utilitarian specifications, as the G-Wagen was historically.

Today’s G-Class starts at just over £100,000 in the UK, and the EQG is likely to follow existing EQ-badged models by commanding a small premium over its ICE-powered equivalent.

However, given the fundamental architectural similarities between the EQG and the G-Class, the premium is unlikely to be as stark as the difference between the EQS and largely unrelated S-Class.

Expect technological and design influence from other electric Mercedes models feature the latest version of Mercedes’ MBUX infotainment platform through a large-format touchscreen, which will be twinned with an all-digital gauge cluster offering EV-specific displays.

The G-Class, while not as strong a seller as Mercedes’ core A-Class, B-Class, C-Class and E-Class, is a key profit driver for the German firm.

In 2016, the SUV sold more than 20,000 units for the first time. That pales in comparison to the 425,000 C-Classes sold, but the G-Class’s high list price makes it a consistently reliable revenue generator, and the introduction of the heavily modernised second-generation version in 2018 has served to ensure its longevity.

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xxxx 16 August 2021

Mercedes getting worried about the explosive sales of the defender across Europe, meaning it's time to move on. Ignore comments from the people who cannot tell the difference between the defender and discovery, the first letter causes them problems.

abkq 16 August 2021

I hope this time round, as an EV, Mercedes would show some initiative and not slavishly copies itself.

The present G class is not retro (it lacks any creative thinking, it lacks any interpretation). It's merely a slavish copy of the previous model. Null point.

Andrew1 16 August 2021
It will be many miles ahead of the similarly priced Disco clone, called, for some reason, Defender.