Mercedes-Benz G-Code Concept Shows China the Future
The new Mercedes-Benz G-Code concept, introduced alongside the German automaker's new Beijing-based Product Engineering Centre, is an example of the kind of imaginative design that used to be more common among futuristic concept cars. Developed in China to address the particular concerns of Asian urban life, the G-Code combines Mercedes' current styling ethos with a suite of wild technologies and features.
At first look, the Mercedes-Benz G-Code concept looks to be a squashed-down two-door version of the upcoming Mercedes-Benz MLC crossover. The "sensual purity" design language is certainly at work here, with its familiar mix of flowing lines, short overhangs, raked roofline, high beltline, and unified LED taillight design. 21-inch wheels with carbon-fiber spokes stand out dramatically. But the G-Code concept crams all of these styling cues into a compact package that's even smaller than the GLA-Class crossover. At 161.4 inches long, 74.8 inches wide, and 59.0 inches tall it is more than a foot short than the GLA, but comparable in width and height.
Power comes from a plug-in hybrid system that uses an electric motor and a compact turbocharged combustion engine that runs on hydrogen. The hydrogen engine powers only the front wheels, while the electric motor drives the rear axle and distributes power to each wheel using a dual multi-disc clutch.
The four-seat Mercedes-Benz G-Code concept declares itself a vision of the future even while parked. As a nod to spaceship hyperdrive from Star Trek's Enterprise, the G-Code's grille utilizes a continuous display that signals the crossover's drive state. At rest it pulsates softly with blue light, while in all-electric, Hybrid Eco, and Hybrid Sport mode it changes pattern and color from blue, to purple, to red, respectively.
Inside the cabin, however, things start to get even more futuristic. When a passenger gets in the car and turns it on using his or her smartphone, sensors determine the ideal seating and driving position, signaling the instrument panel, pedals, steering wheel, and head-up display to extend from their rest positions and move perfectly into place. Perhaps the craziest feature is the so-called wellness monitoring system in the G-Code's seats. "3D body scanners" measure "physical parameters" to determine how to properly massage, cool, or heat occupants for relaxed traveling that is supposed to prevent fatigue.
In addition to the Mercedes-Benz G-Code's crazy luxury amenities, it also features innovations that adapt it to urban use in China. Ionized air filters keep allergens and pollutants out of the cabin, 3D cameras and radar help keep occupants and pedestrians from collisions, and two on-board stand-up city scooters are stored and automatically recharged below in the luggage compartment.
Mercedes-Benz is clear that many of the technologies and features of the G-Code concept are purely speculative, but it's great to see automakers expanding their horizons and taking some risks with imagination and vision. As far as design goes, it's very possible that a similar-looking compact Mercedes-Benz crossover could be on the way soon, as one of the automaker's upcoming "on-road" crossovers. The styling could also preview the upcoming GLC Coupe, which is a sportier, sleeker version of the successor to the current GLK-Class crossover.