It has been a long time since we laid eyes on a truly mind-bending concept car – but Mercedes' latest 'design study' is about as bonkers as futuristic design gets without dropping the silk sheets on a road-going version of the Starship Enterprise.
Unveiled to celebrate the opening of the German marque's new Product Engineering Centre in Beijing, the Mercedes-Benz G-Code concept aims to highlight the possibilities on offer when Mercedes' Sindelfingen studio meets conceptual Chinese thinking.
Labelled an 'innovative and versatile Sports Utility Coupe' - or SUC for short, stop sniggering at the back - the 2+2 seater soft-roader features the taught, muscular lines of a coupe and the roly-poly ride height of a jacked-up off-roader.
Front grille pulsates but doesn't go into warp drive
Rear light cluster houses everything in one unit
Seats monitor occupant's vital signs
A unique radiator grille at the front end takes its inspiration from the aforementioned popular sci-fi series, with a holographic warp drive-style pod that illuminates in different hues depending on the vehicle's state.
Park the G-Code up outside your favourite comic book store and the front end pulsates a deep blue, in all-electric driving mode stars strobe outwards and in maximum attack hybrid sport mode, the grille lights up a menacing red.
That hybrid drivetrain is pretty neat, too, combining the power of an internal combustion engine, which runs on hydrogen, and a powerful electric motor that powers the rear axles. A 'digital' prop shaft allows the driver to select the powertrain best suited to driving conditions.
Butterfly steering wheel as standard
Because this is a design study, Mercedes engineers were allowed to go completely mental with the planet-saving environmental stuff. Take the high-tech "multi-voltaic silver" paint finish for example. It is designed to act as a giant solar panel that creates energy to aid the methane and hydrogen synthesis process, thus eking out more miles from your hydrogen tank.
Even the suspension system is in on the act, with the flow of hydraulic fluid in the springs and dampers driving a generator that creates electricity to top up the batteries.
The G-Code is equally experimental inside, too. A centre console with integrated smart device docking station connects the car to the digital world, while its shell-like seats are kitted out with full 3D body scanners that constantly monitor passenger's vitals. Even the steering wheel is wacky - it folds out like a butterfly when the G-Code is started and sports a built-in head up display that can be programmed to show a multitude of vehicle information.
Mercedes' vision of warp drive might still be light years away but it's a good hint at what a small compact crossover from the German marque might look like... on the outside at least.