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.
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.
Benz 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.”
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.
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.
The 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 Colorado, Mitsubishi 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.