Mercedes-Benz has revealed the latest in its growing line of hardcore four-wheel-drive prototypes, the EQC 4×4² – a one-off conceived to explore the ultimate off-road capability of the German car maker’s first dedicated electric model.

The fully operational EQC 4×4² is based on the EQC 400 4Matic, complete with a twin-motor electric drive system developing 408bhp and 562lb ft of torque.

Together with its added off-road focus, it is claimed to preview the sort of engineering details that Mercedes is considering for upcoming models from its newly announced G sub-brand, which is modelled on the operations of AMG and Maybach. The G sub-brand will produce a new series of models – including a pure-electric version of the G-Class – aimed at buyers seeking extreme off-road performance.
The high-riding electric SUV prototype was created by a small team headed by Jürgen Eberle, a Mercedes-Benz development engineer who also played a key role in the earlier G500 4×4², which reached limited production after its unveiling in 2015, and the E-Class All Terrain 4×4².

Eberle said: “Despite the trend towards electric vehicles right now, there remains great enthusiasm for traditional off-roaders. Our aim was to combine these two with a car that provides the best of both worlds – fully electric but with the ability to go off road in a serious way.”

To provide the EQC 4×4² with the ability to take it well away from the bitumen, it receives heavily reworked suspension with multi-link portal axles that serve to site the wheels much lower than the axle hubs for vastly increased ground clearance. A similar process was undertaken with the G500 4×4² and E400 All Terrain 4×4². Further modifications include increased track widths and 20in wheels from the old R-Class shod with 285/50-profile Cooper Zeon tyres.

Together, they have necessitated the fitment of new plastic wheel-arch extensions to keep it compliant with Germany’s vehicle registration process. They not only to increase the overall width of the standard EQC by a full 200mm but also provide it with a toughened appearance fully befitting its off-road brief.

Eberle said the ground clearance has increased by 153mm over the standard EQC, at 293mm, which gives Mercedes-Benz’s latest four-wheel-drive prototype 58mm more clearance than the standard G-Class.

The approach angle is up by 11.2deg, at 31.8deg, and the departure angle increases 13.0deg to 33.0deg. The crucial breakover angle has also been improved by 12.6deg, at 24.2deg, and the fording depth is up by 150mm to 400mm.

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