New Mercedes concept reveals budget SUV plans
The G-Code may just be a design study at the moment but its unveiling in China on Monday is the clearest sign yet that the company is set to offer a premium yet affordable crossover.
Based on the same platform as the entry-level A-Class compact hatchback, the G-Code's exterior looks are the result of a collaboration between Mercedes design teams in Germany and in China.
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It is a compact four-seater, one meant to represent the 'lifestyles and digital cultures of contemporary Chinese society' and one that could be described as a 2+2 in that the rear seats are for occasional rather than daily use. However it does have four doors and a hatchback and, in concept car guise at least, is powered by a hydrogen-electric engine.
Mercedes already offers a compact yet premium SUV -- the GLA -- but the G-Code is smaller still at 4100mm from nose to tail (the GLA measures 4417mm). But what it lacks in length it makes up for in other departments.
The G-Code is almost 10cm wider and is infinitesimally taller and, this being a Mercedes concept, a real-life model based loosely on this car's design and proportions is around the corner.
The production model is expected to launch in China in 2016 and in Europe and the US in 2017 and is likely to be powered by a more traditional internal combustion or hybrid engine and to be positioned as a direct rival to Audi's upcoming Q1 compact SUV. Hopefully some of the stronger design elements, such as the car's backlit front grille and lack of B-pillars that make for a wraparound windshield will make it onto the production version.
The new concept was created to mark the opening of the first Mercedes-Benz Research and Development studio in China. Located in Beijing, the studio is tasked primarily with developing vehicles and features for the Chinese market. It boasts a team of 500 engineers and designers, and the facility cost €13.5 million to create.
'With our new R&D Center in China, we are progressing our strategy of the internationalization of our R&D, showing our full commitment and dedication to China, a key market for us,' said Prof. Dr. Thomas Weber, Member of the Board of Management of Daimler AG, responsible for Group Research and Mercedes-Benz Cars Development. 'Establishing a close-knit and complementary network of R&D Centers across the globe will enable us to incorporate local taste, needs and trends into our products much faster, supporting our vision to become the world's largest premium car manufacturer by the end of the decade.'