► Mercedes' hardest G-wagen yet
► Takes G63 6x6 and lops one axle off
► Excess all areas: 416bhp, 22in wheels
Mercedes has one more surprise up its sleeve for the 2015 Geneva motor show: this unusually named G500 4x4² concept car.
That rather convoluted name needs decoding. As you can see, it's a G-wagen (or G-class, in formal Daimler speak). And the squared bit of the name refers to the seriously hardcore hardware underneath.
For this is no normal G-wagen. It takes the running gear of the G63 AMG 6x6 and lops off one axle to create a butch, go-anywhere 4x4 par excellence.
Talk us through the changes on the G500 4x4²
The bodywork is stock G-class, albeit on stilts; it's what's underneath that's different. And then some.
There's the G's usual ladder-on-frame chassis, but the 6x6 donates its four-wheel drive system and portal axles with dual spring and variable dampers at each corner. Daimler says this guarantees even better articulation over rough ground (although this claim may be slightly at odds with the huge 22in alloy wheels!).
There's double the ground clearance of a regular G500 long-wheelbase, the G500 4x4² sitting a lofty 450mm above the tarmac. Or mud.
And get this: the portal axles have a much wider track - the wheels are pushed apart by an extra 299mm (12 inches!) compared with a regular G-wagen. Merc claims this makes it corner like a sports car and on packed snow it behaves 'like a high-powered rally car.' Quite.
Some pretty heady claims, then. But you've got to admire Daimler's chutzpah with this car. They've even equipped it with beadlock wheels allowing tyre pressures to be lowered to as little as 0.5 bar for superior traction on sand dunes, without the risk of the rubber coming off the rim.
What's the firepower?
Ah yes, the V8 engine. This one's the familiar Merc 4.0-litre, twin-turbocharged to produce a stout 416bhp. Yep, that's right: this is the same lump you'll find in a Merc-AMG GT sports car.
It should sound good too; ther are twin side-exit pipes just ahead of the rear wheels. It's not just for show, either. Removing the exhausts from the rear improves the departure angle during mud-plugging.
Mercedes call this 'a near-series production car,' hinting that it could be offered in full production spec quite soon.
'Whether and when the decision on series production of the Mercedes-Benz G 500 4x4² will be made depends on the reaction which the near-series show car receives,' the company says. We'll take that as confirmation this model will join the ranks of regular G-wagens pretty soon...