Who would have thought the most hotly anticipated reveal for Mercedes-Benz this year would be a ute? But it sure is – and here it is, the all-new 2018 Mercedes-Benz X-Class.
The first ever Mercedes-Benz X-Class, which is also the first ever pick-up from the three-pointed star brand, has been unveiled at an event in South Africa, with the Nissan Navara-based model clearly cutting a different figure to its donor vehicle.
The styling, according to Mercedes-Benz, has “SUV design typical of the brand”, with a twin-louvre grille aligning the ute with the other offerings from the brand. The German marque reckons the “X-Class unites the typical characteristics of a ute – robustness, functionality, resilience and off-road capabilities” – while also carrying the “classical strengths of a real Mercedes – design, comfort, driving dynamics and safety”.
You can make what you will of the styling of the new X-Class, but it’s fair to say it’s a bit more, er, work-oriented than the Concept X-Class pair of show cars suggested it might be.
But as Mercedes-Benz said it would, the new model has a few different stylised options to choose from, with the entry-level Pure model boasting black bumpers and a work-focused detail, the mid-range Progressive for those with “higher requirements in terms of quality feel and comfort” including colour-coded bumpers, and a top-spec version known as Power that is the lifestyle-oriented offering, which has a chrome under-body guard.
Nine exterior colour choices will be available, and there’ll be 17-, 18- or 19-inch wheels depending on the grade. We can foresee a lot of these wheels popping up on Gumtree as buyers look to up-spec their tough trucks with 22-inch rims or 33-inch mud tyres.
The Pure model will have black fabric seats with the option of fake leather, while the Progressive variant has a different black fabric or the option of Artico man-made leather with Dinamica microfibre, as seen in the Benz passenger car range.
Above: The Mercedes-Benz X-Class Power model interior
The Power version has black Artico/Dinamica as standard with contrasting stitching, but buyers can option black (real) leather with grey stitching or nut brown leather with black stitching.
There’s even fake leather on the dash top and doors in the top model, and – for the first time in the ute segment – buyers can choose between macchiato beige fabric or black fabric head-lining. There are other utes with different head-liners available – the Ford Ranger, for one – but not as an option.
Above: The Mercedes-Benz X-Class Progressive model interior
Of course the X-Class gets the Mercedes-Benz media system, with the floating centre screen in two sizes. The top version scores the Comand Online media unit with an 8.4-inch screen (the largest display in the segment) controlled by the multifunction touchpad between the front seats, with integrated satellite navigation and a 360-degree camera. Lower grades will make do with the brand’s old-school Audio 20 media system as standard.
All X-Class models get the brand’s 5.4-inch colour multimedia display between the instrument dials (borrowed from the C-Class).
Above: The Mercedes-Benz X-Class Pure model interior
There’s a three-spoke steering wheel as standard, which is leather-lined in the Progressive and Power models, and so is the gear-shift knob and handbrake.
The seats have been designed by Mercedes-Benz, too, and there will be the availability of electric adjustment and electric lumbar adjustment in the Power version. The back seat has been redesigned compared with the Navara, too, with claimed better support for adults, and the addition of ISOFIX anchor points.
As for drivetrains, there are four engines confirmed:
Because it’s built on the ladder-frame underpinnings of the Nissan Navara, it’s no surprise the X-Class has a retuned coil-spring suspension at the front and the rear.
In Europe, the brand will offer two different ride heights – the comfort version with 202mm of ground clearance, and a more hardcore version with 222mm of clearance. The latter is what we’ll get as standard.
As for off-road credentials, the X-Class has 600mm of wading depth capability, a 30.1-degree approach angle and 25.9deg departure angle, a 22deg ramp-over angle, as well as a 49-degree maximum tilt angle.
Depending on the specification, the X-Class payload is rated from 918kg (top-spec) through to 1092kg (entry-spec), that that’s apparently “enough to transport 17 full 50-litre barrels of beer in the cargo area”, and there’s a light to allow you to see when you’re loading before or after hours, and an integrated 12-volt outlet in the tub, too.
The tray dimensions are 1587 millimetres long, 1560mm wide (at 1215mm between the wheel-arches, making it wide enough to cope with an Australian pallet!) and 470mm deep, while the overall body dimensions of the X-Class are close to those of competitors, with a length of 5340mm, a width of 1920mm and a height of 1819mm (1838mm with the sports bar).
The X-Class’s Gross Combination Mass (GCM) is 6200 kilograms, with a kerb weight of up to 2332kg. It has an 80-litre fuel tank.
The maximum tow rating for the X-Class is 3.2 tonnes for 4×2 models and 3.5 tonnes for the 4×4 versions, and in a clear reference to who will likely be shopping for one of these, it means the Merc ute will “pull a trailer containing three horses or an eight-metre yacht”. Or a heavy box trailer, we presume…
Mercedes-Benz has widened the track of the X-Class, apparently to provide “the ideal prerequisites for optimum driving stability and higher cornering speeds”.
The width at the front is 1632mm, while at the rear it’s 1625mm, which is notably broader than the Navara upon which it is based (1570mm front and rear). It has the same 3150mm wheelbase.
There are four-wheel disc brakes as standard (320mm up front and 308mm at the rear) and every all-wheel drive version of the X-Class has hill-descent control. A standard-fit rear differential lock will add further peace of mind to those who head off-road regularly.
Mercedes-Benz claims “this tough performance ute delivers the drivability and handling to match many demands – both with regard to vehicle dynamics and ride comfort”.
The X-Class will get the aforementioned child-seat anchor points that are absent from some other utes in the segment, while it will also better its only German rival in the marketplace by including rear airbag coverage.
Indeed, the X-Class will have seven airbags – dual front, front side, full-length curtain and driver’s knee coverage – and there’ll be plenty of other safety kit, including the standard fitment of a rear-view camera (and that 360-degree system in the top-spec version, which is set to be optional in the entry- and mid-spec models).
There are three active safety items fitted as standard: active brake assist, lane keeping assist, and collision prevention assist. Further, there are items such as trailer stability control, tyre pressure monitoring, LED headlights (standard on high-spec, optional below) that are said to be the brightest in the segment.
Benz reckons this standard safety kit means the “X-Class perfectly fulfils the requirements placed on a modern family and lifestyle vehicle”.
There’s the option of a sliding glass section in the rear windshield, while the company claims it will offer an extensive range of accessories, including side steps, a sports bar, the choice of soft tonneau, hard lid or roller covers for the tray, and a custom canopy “which makes the ute look like a SUV” as it ”continues the X-Class’s lines perfectly, merging with the vehicle body to create a distinctive silhouette”.
A tub-liner, cargo partition system and tie-down rails for load security will also be available, and in some markets there’ll be the option for a rear-bumper-free 180-degree opening tailgate. As standard, the tailgate will open the requisite 90 degrees.
The all-new Mercedes-Benz X-Class won’t be built in Thailand like the vast majority of its mainstream rivals (only the Amarok is made elsewhere, in Argentina) – instead, the X-Class will head down the Navara line in Barcelona, Spain, late in 2017. The first examples of the X-Class will arrive in Australia early in 2018.
As for the pricing? Well, we’ll have to wait and see what Mercedes-Benz does in that regard. We’d expect to see the Pure model to be competitively priced in the $45k-$55k range, the mid-spec Progressive to play where current high-end utes play (in the mid-$50k to mid-$60k bracket), and the Power version could reach new levels for dual-cab pick-ups in the Aussie market.
But as we’ve learned from Mercedes-Benz, it will equip its models well in light of strong competition – it has done so in the luxury car market, and it will need to do so in the hard-fought ute market, too.
The Latin American market will see its X-Class variants built in Argentina from 2019.
Click the Pictures tab above for more images of the new 2018 Mercedes-Benz X-Class.