Mercedes electrifies the backcountry with EQC 4x4² off-roader
Mercedes continues squaring up its lineup. The new EQC 4x4² concept is the first all-electric model of the 4x4² series, promising rowdy, unrestrained off-roading powered by battery. Like the 4x4² models that came before it, the new EQC rides on clearance-upping portal axles. It also gets some new model-specific upgrades, including something Mercedes calls "lampspeakers."
Little by little, electric drive technology is finding its way off-road, whether it's through hybridized off-road icons or all-electric newcomers. Mercedes is using the EQC 4x4² to demonstrate how its own electric tech can move far beyond city limits and way off pavement.
Mercedes' cross-departmental development team started off with an EQC 400 4Matic. The first step was easy enough: following the recipe of previous 4x4² builds in adding portal axles. The multi-link portals more than double the EQC's ride height to 11.5 in (293 mm), raising it 2.3 in (58 mm) above the standard G-Class. This move also bumps fording depth to 15.7 in (400 mm), up from 9.8 in (250 mm), and improves approach/departure/breakover angles to 31.8/33/24.2 degrees, from 20.6/20/11.6.
To complement the raised body, Mercedes swaps in Cooper Zeon LTZ 285/50 R20 tires contained by furious black fender flares. The base EQC brings the natural all-wheel drive of electric motors at each axle, and Mercedes tunes the off-road drive mode programming to give the concept the best traction in slippery off-road driving scenarios. No mention of power upgrades, so we'll assume the e-drive still puts out 402 hp and 561 lb-ft.
Mercedes believes its upgraded e-SUV capable of deftly climbing mountains, scurrying across sandy expanses and taking midday swims through the river. It imagines further unshackling adventurers by dropping a roof-top tent on the rails and an inflatable dinghy in the trunk for multi-day expeditions of land and sea.
Helping the 4x4² make its presence known is a custom-designed sound system. An intensified version of the standard EQC's Acoustic Vehicle Alert System uses speakers integrated into the headlamps to make other vehicles and wilderness users aware of the vehicle's approach in the absence of the usual gas or diesel grumble. This feature should help when creeping around tight switchbacks or emerging out of densely wooded forest.
The EQC 4x4² is only the third in the official 4x4² family, following the limited edition G500 4x4² and experimental E400 4x4² utility wagon, but it joins a greater family of high-riding extreme Benzes that also includes the magnificently extravagant Maybach G650 Landaulet safari limousine and Hollywood-grade G63 AMG 6x6 pickup. If you ask us, the next logical step from here would be an EQV 4x4² all-terrain electric adventure van.
Mercedes calls the EQC 4x4² a study, so we don't imagine it will be following the the Maybach G650, G500 4x4² and G63 6x6 into limited production, but this line of vehicles is nothing if not unpredictable.