Mercedes has celebrated the opening of its new product engineering centre in China by unveiling this: Mercedes G-Code concept car.
Dubbed a Sports Utility Coupe (SUC), the car is a collaboration between a Stuttgart-based team and the new design studio in Beijing. And the design team’s explanation of what it is and how it will work is more than a little bit mad…
Solar panel body
The G-Code’s powertrain is very clever; it features a hybrid system that combines a hydrogen-fuelled turbocharged internal combustion engine powering the front wheels, and an electric motor driving the rears.
Electricity is charged in several ways. The car’s special paint is not only photovoltaic – essentially one huge solar panel – but the friction of air passing over it generates static electricity which charges the battery. Further charge is added through the conversion of kinetic energy, generated through the movement of the suspension, into electricity.
Size and styling
The G-Code is very compact – at 4.1m long it is almost 20cm shorter than an A-Class – but the square shape and chunky 21-inch alloy wheels give the rugged off-road inspired design cues which, according to Mercedes, are in demand among young Asian buyers.
The LED headlights which flank the grille have G-shaped daytime running lights to give the front a recognisable face, while on the sides, retractable rear facing cameras on the a-pillars replace traditional door/wing mirrors. At the rear, an LED strip runs the width of the car, housing the brake lights, tail lights and indicators.
The front grille is the main talking point though. Covered in tiny LED lights, and inspired by the warp drive on Star Trek (no, really), it glows different hues depending on how you’re driving. For example, when parked the grill pulses slowly in a soft a blue light, while on the move the colours will vary from blue through to red, based on which driving mode you choose.
Sadly, unlike the Trekkie-inspired grill, the doors don’t automatically open with a whoosh which sounds remarkably like someone removing paper from an envelope.
The front doors open normally, but the ones at the back are rear-hinged much like they are in the Vauxhall Meriva. The lack of B-pillars makes for easy ingress into the four-seat cabin.
What’s it like inside?
Curiously, all the major controls stow away in “rest” positions to make it easier to get in and out of the car. Once the car is started though, the square-shaped steering wheel unfolds from the dash “like a butterfly” and the pedals extend out to reach you.
The colour scheme inside is a contrast between dark and light. The seats and door panels are trimmed in white, and everything else is black. Like the exterior, though, things are livened up with lighting which changes depending on the driving mode.
Even starting the G-Code is unusual. Instead of a key you use your smartphone to fire it up. Mercedes hasn’t divulged any further information on the process, but we assume in order to get going you send a text saying “I wan2 go 4 a drive now”. Possibly.
Excess oxygen? No problem!
Mercedes says the cabin aims to create an ultra-comfortable environment for passengers, with the focus on “wellness”. Seats will adjust and apparently monitor their occupant’s wellness on the move, while excess oxygen from the hydrogen combustion process is recirculated into the cabin to make everyone feel relaxed and “full of wellness”.
In the boot, there are two electric scooters which the car can charge on the move. We believe these are for when passengers become overwhelmed by the feeling of wellness inside.
This sounds mad. What does it all mean?
The G-Code is officially a concept, but several styling cues – like the front and rear lights – will more than likely carry over to future production models. It may even point the way towards a new entry level SUV in Mercedes’ line up.