Mercedes-Benz X-Class – First-Ever Ute Previewed In New Concepts

Mercedes-Benz X-Class – First-Ever Ute Previewed In New Concepts

Here it is – the much-anticipated, first-ever ute from Mercedes-Benz that previews a new ‘pick-up’ range called the X-Class.

The utes you see before you are just concepts, simply called the Concept X-Class and with Nissan NP300 Navara platforms underneath.

One concept is designed to demonstrate the X-Class’s potential off-road prowess, while the other is aimed more at showing how the pickup can work as an alternative to an SUV.

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And it’s this market in particular on which Benz plans to capitalise. With prices rumoured to kick off at around $50,000, it will put the X-Class in the mix against upper-end Ford Ranger and Toyota HiLux models.

The production version will also be based on the Navara, and built alongside it, but don’t mistake this for a rebadged Nissan – the German carmaker is keen to emphasise that this new ute in the eyes of Mercedes is a “premium pickup”.

First the good news: if you like the idea of a Mercedes-Benz X-Class in your driveway or at the worksite, Mercedes is bringing it to Australia. The bad news? It won’t arrive until 2018.

Mercedes-Benz-Concept-X-Class-0016Benz considers Australia to be one of the X-Class’s key markets, with Europe, South Africa and Latin America being others.

“With the Mercedes-Benz pickup, we will close one of the last gaps in our portfolio,” Mercedes boss Dr Dieter Zetsche said.

“Our target: we want to offer customers vehicles matching their specific needs. The X-Class will set new standards in a growing segment.”

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The key word there is “growing”. Benz expects the segment to grow in the same way that 4WDs have grown and developed – first appearing as rugged uncompromising off-roaders that, for some, have over time morphed into luxurious SUVs and wagons.

To that end, Benz is hoping to attract customers “who have not considered owning a pickup before”.

Mercedes has confirmed that six-cylinder power in both petrol and diesel, matched with 4MATIC all-wheel-drive, will feature heavily in the model line-up.

That could mean up to 195kW/650Nm if Mercedes uses its current V6 turbo-diesel. Four-cylinder engines (again, both petrol and diesel) are also expected to be available.

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If the interior of the concepts is anything to go by, buyers can expect a C-Class-esque level of trim and features, including touchscreen, leather, woodgrain and smartphone connectivity. But Benz says “practical” elements of a pickup have been retained, such as a good ‘ol fashioned park brake lever in the centre console (rather than an electric park brake).

The X-Class also has practical features on the outside, not least of which is the 1.1 tonne payload and 3.5 tonne towing capacity.

Mercedes-Benz-Concept-X-Class-001The X-Class will be competing against the current crop of dual-cab utes including its cousin, the NP300 Navara as well as the Ford Ranger, Mazda BT-50, Toyota HiLux, Holden ColoradoMitsubishi Triton, Isuzu D-Max and of course the Volkswagen Amarok. Interestingly, Volkswagen has responded to the X-Class threat by announcing a power upgrade – for its yet to be released in Australia – Amarok V6.

The Mercedes-Benz X-Class is scheduled to arrive in Australia in 2018. Stay tuned to Loaded 4X4 for more.

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