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Mysterious Mercedes-Benz SUV mule spied

Could this be a baby G-Class?

Our spy photographers have captured a mysterious mule wearing the body of an old W204-series Mercedes-Benz C-Class.

It could be a mule for an upcoming off-roader from the three-pointed star brand, instead of being a mere backyard hack-job by someone who wanted a German Volvo S60 Cross Country.

Compared with a regular C-Class, it’s obviously riding considerably higher. You’ll also note there’s a roll cage and a roof-mounted light bar.

Peer a little closer, and the gap between the wheels and the sills seems wonky. That suggests this vehicle rides on a slightly shorter wheelbase than the 2760mm span of the W204 C-Class.

According to our photographers, this vehicle also features an internal combustion engine of some sort as they could hear it.

We don’t expect Mercedes-Benz to introduce a high-riding sedan, and this mule is clearly a case of engineers using whatever body was available and best suited for testing.

We do know Mercedes-Benz made G its fourth sub-brand in 2020, after Mercedes-AMG, Mercedes-Maybach and Mercedes-EQ.

Such a decision suggests there could be more G-branded product coming. After all, why make G a sub-brand when it’s only going to have one product?

While we know an electric G-Class is coming, previewed by last year’s EQG concept, it’s possible Mercedes could follow the Ford Bronco model in offering an iconic, namesake vehicle and then introducing a smaller model (or models) with styling inspired by the hero car.

Alternatively, the G sub-brand could see Mercedes roll out modified versions of its existing SUV range that feature styling enhancements and/or greater off-road ability.

Each of Mercedes’ sub-brands follows quite a different strategy.

Maybach, for example, offers plusher versions of existing Mercedes-Benz models. AMG sells higher-performance versions of Mercedes vehicles, with the exception of the SL, GT and GT 4-Door which are standalone models.

EQ, which doesn’t feature a double-barrel name like Mercedes-AMG or Mercedes-Maybach, features electric versions of Mercedes products.

While the EQA, for example, hews quite closely to its internal combustion-powered GLA counterpart, the likes of the EQE and EQS feature bespoke platforms and entirely different styling to similarly sized combustion-powered Benzes.

EQ also doesn’t have a monopoly on electric Mercedes-Benz models, with Maybach and AMG-branded EVs incoming.

It’s no secret the G-Class has been a hit for Mercedes-Benz, especially in Hollywood.

The 1979-vintage Geländewagen had been developed as a rugged off-roader and quickly found favour with militaries and law enforcement agencies.

In the 2000s, Mercedes introduced increasingly on-road focussed Gs like the G55 AMG which, with their trademark, boxy styling and powerful V8 engines, attracted attention from wealthy buyers.

Mercedes finally introduced a new G-Class in 2018, a ground-up redesign but which faithfully follows its predecessor stylistically.

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