New Mercedes EQG: first ride in electric G-Class

The electric EQG uses one motor for each wheel and is expected to retain the G-Class’ off-road credentials

Mercedes EQG prototype

The Mercedes G-Class is not the first car you’d think might be in-line for the EV treatment, but in 2024 a fully electric version of the legendary 4x4 will go into production. It’ll be called the Mercedes EQG, and we’ve spent some time in a prototype to get a taste of what’s to come.

First of all, despite the prototype’s extensive camouflage, it’s obvious the G-Class’ iconic square-jawed styling has been largely untouched. So while it might not have the most aerodynamic shape, the EQG’s heritage will be easily recognisable – something potential customers will likely love.

Emmerich Schiller, the head of Mercedes’ off-road vehicle product division, told us exactly what the EQG needs to be capable of to qualify as a true G-Class. Specifically, it’ll have to pass the Schöckl test, a 2,000km route around the 1,445-metre high mountain that towers over the G-Class' home in Graz, Austria.

It makes sense therefore that Schiller and his team would use the existing model’s proven ladder frame chassis, opposed to plonking a G-Class body on top of the same EV-dedicated platform which underpins the EQE and EQS SUVs. In the EQG, the battery is part of the structure, and protected by casings made from Kevlar and other tough materials.

That battery, which we expect to exceed 100kWh, is then used to power four individual motors – one on each wheel, like the Rivian R1T pickup truck and Rivian R1S SUV. The instant torque, acceleration and control that the electric motors allow for, paired with four low-range transfer boxes, provides the EQG with the kind of ludicrous off-road ability you’d expect from any G-Class.

The EQG’s party trick is called the ‘G-Turn’, which involves the wheels either side spinning in opposite directions so the EQG can rotate like a tank. It's a remarkable yet ridiculous feature at the same time, but does effectively demonstrate what electrification has added to the famous G-Class formula.

We experienced the EQG around Mercedes' testing route in Carcassonne, France, where the current G-Class was launched. With Schiller at the helm, the electric 4x4 silently and quite effortlessly tackled the rough terrain, and did so seemingly with greater ease than the petrol-powered G-Class just ahead of us.

The EQG’s official unveiling is still a long way off, so understandably the engineers are tight-lipped about the technical details right now. But as mentioned, we expect the heavily protected battery in the EQG is around the same size as the EQS SUV’s 107.8kWh unit, while the four motors are likely to produce between 600bhp to 670bhp – perhaps more.

Given the Mercedes EQG is due enter production in 2024, it’s likely to break cover sometime next year. A starting price hasn’t been disclosed, but given the current generation G-Class’ over £130,000 figure, we expect the electric EQG could start close to £200,000.

Mercedes Concept EQG

We got our first look at the zero-emissions ‘G-Wagon’ in late 2021, when Mercedes unveiled the Concept EQG you see above. We expect the styling of the road-going version to be very similar given that it was described as a “near-production study” at the time.

As well as the angular, boxy shape, some other design elements on the Concept EQG were carried over largely unchanged from the regular G-Class, such as the indicators mounted on the front wings. There were a handful of unique touches, though: instead of the traditionally tailgate-mounted spare wheel, there’s a lockable storage box – ideal for keeping charging cables in.

One obvious difference between the electric and combustion-engined G-Class is the black panel in place of the traditional grille, as seen on the Concept EQG, which is a design element shared with all of Mercedes’ zero-emissions cars.

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