Think you've seen it all? Think again. Mercedes-Benz have launched their latest vehicle in the form of a luxury Pick-up truck destined to outshine the rest of the market, according to their Chairman, Dr Dieter Zetsche.
The X Class, as it is named, will apparently be the world's first premium Pick-up truck and the vehicle to round off and complete Mercedes' large portfolio.
Mercedes have confidently created 2 concepts for the X Class - the Stylish Explorer and the Powerful Adventurer, both to fulfill complete opposite uses. As you can imagine the Stylish Explorer will incorporate their current passenger car interiors and clean lines, while the Powerful Adventurer will have big off-road tyres, a brightly coloured paint job, a winch and even a fire extinguisher. Both will have the recognisable tablet-like infotainment display inside.
Pick-up trucks have emerged as a suddenly popular choice across the world as they can double as a practical working vehicle and also as a passenger vehicle, which has most-likely been triggered by the fact that they are good value for money and more recent models have been much better on fuel economy than in the past.
Mercedes have had the heritage and funding over the years to be pioneers in a few emerging vehicle segments, such as the people-carrying M Class, the 5-door A Class hatchback and the executive saloon E-Class or CLS Class, and they believe they will be quick to become a market share leader once the X Class is on sale.
The technical design of the X Class is based on the chassis of a Nissan Navara and will use a 4Matic permanent 4 wheel-drive system with two locking differentials and a low range gearbox. Why a Navara you ask? Well to create this vehicle Mercedes decided to team up with the second largest seller of Pick-up trucks worldwide, we assume after Ford, the Renault-Nissan Alliance (now maybe to include Mitsubishi!) providing their knowledge and assistance in creating such a vehicle that is probably a little out of Mercedes' comfort zone.
According to the industry, the X Class will get a Mercedes V6 diesel engine at the top end of the range and the Nissan Navara's 2.3-litre diesel for more entry level variants, as well as a petrol version for markets such as the US. The 3.0-litre V6 diesel is from the existing Mercedes passenger car range and has 261bhp and 620Nm of torque, which if replicated in the X Class, will make it the most powerful Pick-up on the UK market.
Details on exact specs are few and far between at the moment but from what we can gather the X Class will have a maximum payload of up to 1,200kg, qualifying it for vehicle tax classification in the UK, and a towing weight of 3,500kg which is competitive for the sector globally and will give it extra scope for becoming a utility vehicle possibly in the future.
To set themselves even further apart from the rest of the players, Mercedes are making the X Class better in the corners and at speed, bringing 'precise steering, a comfortable ride and agile cornering' and nothing like the current bulky, cumbersome workhorses on the market now. We're guessing that means a poke at the Navara and Amarok who are leading the UK market currently. That statement, we think, may be a little harsh.
Mercedes even took the Navara's 5-link independent rear suspension setup and took it apart in the hopes of making it even more refined to eliminate any sort of idea that this vehicle is intended to be a hard-working builders mate. Mercedes' head of commercial vans, Volker Mornhinweg, said, "we know what has to be done to achieve driving capability and handling. I don't like the bouncy feel of a Pick-up, I want a crisp steering feel and I think we have achieved that."
But where is the practicality for actual work? You know, the loose sand carrying, paint pot holding, cement mixer-moving work?
The market the X Class is primarily targeting is in Australia, South Africa, Brazil, Argentina, Europe and Russia, where mid-sized Pick-ups are expanding their share of the car market steadily, and where there aren't yet any monster Pick-ups such as the Ford F150, Dodge Ram and Chevrolet Silverado, which might as well be the motored part of an articulated lorry they can pull so much. Let's hope they don't make their way across the pond any time soon then.
The X Class is simply a well-designed concept for now and could well be very different from this design on production, which is expected to begin in Spain and Argentina in late 2017 to hit showrooms by the end of that year.
Who knows, we might even get an AMG version of this, and you know what that means. A Brabus version? A Maybach? Or even possibly a Mansory? We'll have to wait a few years probably but oooh doesn't that sound good? Watch this space.
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