Mercedes-Benz picks up the X-factor

Two concepts preview very different markets for X-Class pick-up.


Mercedes-Benz has unveiled two concepts pointing directly at the look of the brand’s first-ever pick-up, the X-Class.

The X-Class is expected to arrive in UK showrooms towards the end of 2017 and while its makers are wasting no opportunity to describe it as the world’s first premium pick-up, it is intended to be a serious workhorse.

The two concepts are dubbed ‘Powerful Adventurer’ and ‘Stylish Explorer,’ indicating their differing target markets.

Underneath, however, they share the same mechanicals, and Mercedes-Benz has taken a safe but sensible route. The X-Class is the result of a three-part joint programme with the RenaultNissan Alliance, and a sister to the latest version of Nissan’s long-admired Navara pick-up.

Renault will also be marketing its own version, the Alaskan, and all three will be built together for prime markets that are expected to be Europe, Latin America, South Africa, and Australia – in the latter mid-sized pick-ups have the largest slice of the entire vehicle market at 14.1 per cent.

Vehicles for all markets bar Latin America will be produced in Nissan’s plant in Barcelona, Spain – Latin American vehicles will come out of the Cordoba plant in Brazil.

The X-Class is a mid-sized pick-up with a double-cab body format, its styling following the look of the latest Mercedes LCV line-up.

The chassis is based around a traditional ladder frame, with a five-link rear axle and coil springs. Payload capacity will range up to 1.1 tonnes and towing capacity to 3.5 tonnes, these top models powered by a yet-to-be-specified V6 engine with permanent all-wheel-drive and the ability to lock the differentials.

Mercedes-Benz has highlighted five target markets for the X-Class, two of which are commercial sectors including business users – such as building contractors or service providers, and landowners such as cattle ranchers.

The production version of the ‘Powerful Explorer’ is expected to appeal to these – it has the higher ground clearance, all-wheel-drive, extra cladding and scuff plates and off-road wheels and tyres.

However the production version of the ‘Stylish Explorer’ is expected in showrooms first. It has more SUV-related visuals, more sculpting to the body, flared wheelarches and a power dome on the bonnet. Active families, off-road adventurers and simply buyers of premium vehicles looking for something different are the target markets.

According to Mercedes-Benz Cars head Dr Dieter Zetsche, the pick-up will close one of the last gaps in the brand’s portfolio. “We want to offer customers vehicles matching their specific needs – the X-Class will set new standards in a growing segment,” he said.

And Mercedes-Benz Vans head Volker Mornhinweg believes the X-Class will open up and change the segment, describing the vehicle as “the world’s first true premium pickup for the modern urban lifestyle.

“Our future X-Class will be a pickup that knows no compromise. Ladder-type frame, high-torque six-cylinder engine, and permanent all-wheel drive are compulsory for us, (but) as an added value we bring safety, comfort, agility, and expressive design – in other words, everything that distinguishes vehicles bearing the Mercedes star.

“We will thus appeal to new customers who have not considered owning a pickup before.”

Mercedes-Benz X-Class pick-up concepts
Andrew Charman
Andrew Charman
Andrew is the News and Road Test Editor for The Van Expert. He is a member of the Guild of Motoring Writers, and has been testing and writing about new cars and vans for more than 20 years, and attends many new model launches each year.

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