It was a major deal when the legitimately brand-new Mercedes-Benz G-Class was unveiled in 2018. It only shares a half-dozen components with the previous G-Class, which had been fundamentally the same since 1979. It proved a controversial redesign, with purists decrying the softer styling, too-techy interior and more modern driving characteristics. But there’s no denying the new G-wagen is the best one ever, retaining the G’s charm and driving character while being a better vehicle — not to mention a massive sales success. Now, the G-Class is truly entering the future with the debut of the Concept EQG on Sunday, a near-production look at the fully electric G that will go on sale in a couple years.
Now, this concept isn’t coming as a surprise. At the reveal of the G-wagen in 2018 Arnold Schwarzenegger made a surprise onstage appearance, and he got Daimler’s then-Chairman Dieter Zetsche to promise the G would be a part of Mercedes’ full electrification plan. Then in 2019, current Daimler CEO Ola Kallenius confirmed that a G-Class EV was in the works. But the reveal of this Concept EQG means the production car is on the horizon, with a debut possible as soon as 2022.
Crucially, the Concept EQG still looks like a G-Class — the body is nearly identical, after all. It has the EQ-trademark black panel grille with an illuminated edge and LED squircles creating the illusion of a grille pattern. The real intakes in the lower front bumper also have a squircle pattern, and there are new underbody trim pieces visible. Round lights on the side mirrors echo the classic round headlights, and the roof rack has an integrated light bar.
The illumination doesn’t stop there. The EQG’s side strips light up, there’s another light bar at the back of the roof rack and the ring around the spare tire carrier is lit up, too. That said, it’s no longer actually a spare tire carrier: It’s a lockable storage compartment that’s meant for charging cables, and the squircle shape is inspired by wallboxes. I’m obsessed with the 22-inch aluminum wheels, the first time a monoblock-style design has been used on a G-wagen, and the two-tone paint finish is a first for the model too. Also, while it’s not visible in photos, the roof rack apparently has a large G in the center.
Mercedes is keeping most of the EQG’s technical details a secret, but there are some major items we do know about. The EQG sticks with the regular G-wagen’s ladder frame, with the battery pack integrated into the frame for a low center of gravity. It still has an independent front suspension and a solid rear axle, though the setups have been specially modified to accommodate the batteries and electric motors. As for those electric motors, there are four of them — one at each wheel. Mercedes says the motors are mounted “close to the wheels” and can be controlled individually, which is a boon both for on-road performance and off-road capability.
The EQG’s capability will be no joke — probably even better than the normal G’s — and Mercedes says its off-road characteristics will be unique. Locking differentials have always been a G-Class hallmark, but with four independently controlled electric motors that can provide instant torque and have precise torque-vectoring capability, diff lockers are unnecessary. It’ll also have a shiftable two-speed gearbox for off-road gear reduction, and Mercedes promises “enormous” pulling power. As with every other G-Class, the EQG will be proven on the Schöckl mountain test track in Graz, a 3.5-mile route that reaches nearly 5,000 feet and has gradients of up to 60 degrees. Mercedes says the EQG will be able to climb a 100% grade just like the gas-powered models.
Now bear with me as I speculate a bit. Mercedes hasn’t released interior photos yet, but my bet is that the EQG will have a large touchscreen running the brand’s latest MBUX system. Given the nature of the G-wagen’s dashboard design, I’m not sure how that will look — I doubt the screen will have the S-Class‘ pseudo-floating look. In terms of specs, I think a range of around 300 miles on the EPA cycle would make sense, but that depends on the size of the batteries. With its four electric motors I think we’re sure to see the EQG offer over 1,000 horsepower, though it could be available with multiple power levels. And maybe EQG could even get rear-wheel steering and adjustable air suspension, two features that have never been offered on the G-Class before. But that’s just me dreaming.
Mercedes-Benz COO Markus Schäfer says he wants to “inspire customers to switch to electric mobility with convincing products,” and that the G-wagen “fulfills this task perfectly.” Emmerich Schiller, managing director of the new G division and head of off-road product development, adds that electrifying the G-wagen is “simply the logical next step” in the SUV’s history. As a massive fan of the model, I can’t disagree. It may not have the characteristic V8 rumble of the current G-Class, but I think the benefits of an EV powertrain will inherently suit the G’s personality and far outweigh the criticisms levied at the EQG from G-wagen purists. Plus, it’ll still have that iconic rifle-bolt door lock sound, and that’s all that really matters.
Mercedes-Benz Concept EQG previews a production electric G-Class
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