By: Dave Abrahams

Paris Motor Show - Mercedes-Benz calls this electric crossover concept “Generation EQ", which it says is a pun on 'electrical intelligence', but it's not joking about its intention for alternative power. This sporty SUV coupé, it says, gives a preview of a whole new generation of battery-electric vehicles.

More important, all of them, including this concept, are based on an all-new modular platform specially developed for electric power and scaleable down to a two-seat roadster or up to a seven seater beetle-crusher.

With permanent all-wheel drive thanks to an electric motor on each axle, a system output that can be increased to 300kW and 700Nm, depending on which batteries you order, and a range of up to 500km, the concept has definitely been designed for the fast lane; it'll sprint from 0 to 100km/h in less than five seconds.

Built using a mix of steel, aluminium and carbon fibre, its styling, in gloss black and silver, has been pared down and simplified with very tight body panel joins, no exterior door handles, concealed windscreen wipers, and cameras instead of exterior mirrors, to give it what Mercedes-Benz calls an electro-look, while a long, low greenhouse, well-marked shoulders and 21 inch alloys give it a distinctly sporty persona.

Since it doesn't have a radiator, the EQ doesn't have a grille; instead there's a black glass panel across the front - incorporating the headlights - with the three-pointed star illuminated in white and the 'grille' outlined in blue.

Glass cockpit

The flight deck doesn't look like any Mercedes-Benz you've seen before, laid out around a 530 x 110mm widescreen colour touchscreen that displays speed, range, driving data or navigation and map details, in any format you want from a very clean 'just the basics' look to a complex, very detailed layout - or anything in between, depending on what you need to know right now, in electric blue, white and rose gold - or you can choose to have the colours change as the driving modes change for intuitive colour-coded readouts.

Two of the three steering-wheel spokes have touch controls set into organic light emitting diode displays; you swipe across the icons they illuminate to scroll through the menus and click on your choice to select it.

The floating centre-stack, bordered in rose gold, has no mechanical switchgear either; you swipe across their icons operate the aircon and infotainment systems - in fact the only knobs and switches in the whole car are those for the electric seat adjustment!

The cameras that do duty as rear-view mirrors project their images on small displays screens built into the doors, so you still look in the same place when you need to check behind you.

Each of the four individual seats has its own speakers in the head restraint; their side bolsters are trimmed in perforated white leather, with a rose gold underlay, while the dark brown centre sections are stitched to look like printed circuit boards.

The 'EQ' brand

Mercedes intends to market more than just electric cars under the EQ label; its catalogue will also include wallboxes, charging services and home energy storage units - which can soak up sunlight while you're at work during the day and recharge your car at night, independent of mains supply.

Faster charging will be possible when the EU combined charging system is introduced. At the moment, fast charging capacities from 50kW to 150kW (in some places) are possible; but a charging capacity of up to 300kW is planned - which would deliver enough amps in five minutes to drive the Generation EQ concept 100km.

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