Mercedes-Benz’s entry for this year’s Los Angeles Design Challenge at the LA Auto Show is this radical looking beast called the Ener-G-Force. While the design theme this year is titled “Highway Patrol Vehicle 2025,” the Merc entry offers a civilian take on things.

Seems the notion of designing tomorrow’s off-roader fascinated the designers at the Mercedes-Benz Advanced Design Studio in Carlsbad, California to such an extent that they evolved the vision of a police version into a civilian version and even came up with a full-scale model of the design.

Like the police version, the model of the civilian Ener-G-Force draws its inspiration from the iconic G-Class, though things have certainly been considerably reinterpreted. Meaty would be a good descriptor for the concept, which displays a high shoulder line and scaled-down glass areas.

Design elements include a roof carrier and additional lamps which are integrated into the roof and a slightly off-centre pull-out toolbox compartment at the rear, the cover of which borrows its look from the spare wheel carrier of the classic G-Class. The pull-out box offers easy access stored equipment without having to open the whole lift-gate.

The Ener-G-Force is hydrogen-powered, and runs on water – the vehicle stores recycled water in tanks on the roof, and transfers it to the “hydro-tech converter,” which converts natural and renewable resources into hydrogen for operating the fuel cells.

Drive is courtesy of four wheel-hub motors, whose output for each individual wheel – which are 20-inch jobs – is adapted precisely to the respective terrain by high-performance electronics. Operating range is an impressive 800 km.

Features include a “Terra-Scan” 360-degree topography scanner on the roof, which continuously scans surroundings and uses the results to adjust the spring/damping rates as well as other suspension parameters for the best traction possible on any surface.