New Mercedes EQG prototype review
Mercedes is set to reveal its production-spec electric G-Class in 2024 in EQG guise, but we get early access as engineers test it off-road
The Mercedes G-Class might be an unlikely candidate for electrification, but that hasn't stopped Mercedes. The EQG brings the off-road capability of the iconic model in to the EV era.
An icon, no question, but within the Mercedes line-up there are easier cars to apply the EQ battery electric badge to than the G-Class. A phenomenon within Merc, the G-Class is effectively its own brand with its own unique characteristics, and adding a battery electric version could not, and should not dilute that.
Emmerich Schiller, CEO of Mercedes-Benz’s G (really), outlines the specific requirements to qualify as a true G-Class. The EQG needs to pass the Schöckl test, a 2,000km route around the mountain that shadows the G-Class's home in Graz, Austria. That’s no mean feat, because batteries aren’t particularly suited to the extremes of off-road driving that the G-Class needs to endure.
The EQG doesn’t, then, simply pop a G style body on one of Mercedes' existing EQ platforms. Instead, Schiller and his G-obsessed team have engineered the battery pack to fit between the car's ladder chassis frame, it forming a structural element, being protected by casings using, among other things, Kevlar, and powering four individual motors.
That’s direct drive to each wheel via four individual low-range transfer ‘boxes if necessary. All that allied to the immediate torque and the speed and control that the individual motors allow, gives the EQG quite ludicrous off-road ability.
Around Merc's testing route in Carcassonne, France, where the current G-Class was launched, the EQG quietly and seemingly effortlessly tackles the vicious terrain with Schiller driving, it doing so with more ease than the photographer-carrying G500 driving the same route ahead.
Being so early to experience the EQG means that the engineers are being tight-lipped about the details, but we’d be amazed if that heavily protected battery underneath isn’t at least the 108kWh of the EQS SUV, and the four motors' output in the 600-670bhp area – perhaps more.
The result is remarkable and the level of control those motors allow is demonstrated brilliantly by the EQG’s party trick, the ‘G-Turn’ which sees the wheels either side spin in opposite direction to allow the EQG to rotate like a tracked vehicle. It’s as hilarious as it is demonstrative of the opportunity that electrification brings, the EQG not just equalling, but apparently bettering its combustion relations on and off-road.
|Transmission:||Single-speed automatic, four-wheel drive|
|0-62mph:||c. 6.0 seconds|