A pair of concept versions of the first-ever Mercedes-Benz ute – known as the Mercedes-Benz Concept X-Class – has been revealed.
That’s right: the new Mercedes-Benz pick-up will be known as the X-Class, the brand has confirmed. The company claims that the new model will be the “first premium pick-up”, with two versions seen here, both five-seat dual-cab models, being the lifestyle-focused “Stylish Explorer” in white and the more rugged looking “Powerful Adventurer” in Lemonax Metallic.
The all-new Mercedes-Benz X-Class is said to be part of a product range expansion as part of a drive for sustainable global growth, and you see two versions of the Concept X-Class as a result – and while both concepts offer up glimpses as to what to expect from the new X-Class production model, each is pretty outlandish in its show car execution.
Head of Mercedes-Benz Cars and chairman of the board for Daimler AG, Dr Dieter Zetsche, said the new pick-up is an important model for the company’s continued growth and expansion.
"With the Mercedes-Benz pick-up, we will close one of the last gaps in our portfolio. Our target: we want to offer customers vehicles matching their specific needs. The X-Class will set new standards in a growing segment,” Zetsche said.
The head of Mercedes-Benz Vans, Volker Mornhinweg, said the ute will be the “first true premium pick-up for the modern urban lifestyle”.
"Our future X-Class will be a pick-up that knows no compromise. Ladder-type frame, high-torque six-cylinder engine, and permanent all-wheel drive are compulsory for us. 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."
The heavily stylised Concept X-Class show cars are said to double as a family vehicle and an urban lifestyle model, with the one-tonne ute claimed by Mercedes-Benz to be “tough, functional, strong, and with off-road capability”.
The lifestyle concept probably won’t be going too far off-road, as it’s shod with 22-inch light alloy wheels in an anthracite finish that offer it a “towering and superior stance”.
The second concept model is said to focus on the classic traits of a pick-up (like a regular pair of tail-lights - but we're not so sure about that mesh tailgate!), and apparently that includes huge tyres (11.5-inch span width, 35-inch diameter) and a 1.90-metre tall stance, while flared arches and a wide track enhance its chunky proportions.
The front-end sees the adoption of the brand’s two-louvre grille, familiar from the Benz SUV range (note the white ute has a single-bar grille), while it also gets underbody protection and matte carbon wheel arch extensions to “underscore the superior off-road aesthetics”. There’s an electric winch up front and a tow hook at the rear, too.
But while it is a beefy looking customer, the lines that span the length of the body – from the short front overhang to the tray at the rear – are said to “amplify the focus on driving dynamics”.
At the rear there’s a chrome trim line and an LED strip that is said to “point to the unique character of the future pick-up”. Intriguing.
The ute will compete against the Navara and the Alaskan (if it comes to Australia), not to mention the big names in the ute segment - the Toyota HiLux, Ford Ranger, Holden Colorado, Mitsubishi Triton, Isuzu D-Max, Mazda BT-50, and its German arch-nemesis, the Volkswagen Amarok.
The work that has been done under the metalwork by Mercedes-Benz’s engineers is said to be extensive, with the ladder-frame chassis and five-link rear suspension – similar to that used in the higher-spec Navara models – having “a precisely calibrated spring/damper set-up will ensure a high ride comfort – on the road and off the road”.
According to the brand: “The pick-up bearing the three-pointed star will impress with precise steering, a comfortable ride, and agile cornering. It will absorb bumps in a superior fashion, making it a perfect fit for the urban environment”.
For those so-called powerful adventurers that Mercedes will be targeting with this all-new ute, the all-wheel drive system includes the usual array of electronic aids and a transfer case with reduction gear, and two differential locks (centre and rear).
And while specific details per the different models in the range are yet to be revealed, the company has confirmed that a “payload of more than 1.1 tonnes and a towing capacity of up to 3.5 tonnes is possible”.
Obviously a drivetrain with decent power and torque will be vital for that sort of application, and while full details are yet to be confirmed, Benz has stated that the top-of-the-line X-Class ute will have a V6 diesel combined with 4Matic all-wheel drive.
It is likely that in lower-specification versions, the Mercedes X-Class ute will make use of the same Renault-sourced 2.3-litre four-cylinder twin-turbo diesel engine used in the Navara.
As for the interior of the concept lifestyle model, there are some typical Mercedes-Benz touches, including nubuck brown leather trim that is complemented by white nappa leather, and “open-pore smoked oak” wood trim accented by brushed and polished aluminium finishes.
The more hardcore concept is finished in "lemonax metallic" exterior paint, and inside it scores black nappa leather with carbon-look black surfaces.
There’s a tablet-style central media screen and a rotary dial controller with touchpad, while “other interior components that customers know and appreciate from the C-Class and V-Class will be found in the X-Class”. And in a classic bit of car PR spin, the brand says that the “characteristics and functionalities typical in the pick-up segment have been retained, such as the handbrake in the centre console”. In other words, an electric park brake didn’t work in this space…
Still, the brand is touting that the X-Class will (in some markets) be offered with an on-board SIM card with Mercedes Me connected services. And, being a Mercedes-Benz, safety is expected to be accounted for, with “modern drive assistance systems based on cameras, radar and ultrasound sensors” that “will support and relieve the driver in many situations” will be offered – we take that to mean forward collision warning, radar cruise control, blind-spot monitoring, front and rear parking sensors, and a rear-view camera will all be offered.
Production of the new X-Class for Australia will commence in late 2017, with first deliveries due in the first half of 2018. The Aussie-sourced Mercedes-Benz X-Class will be built in Spain, but alongside the Navara and Alaskan.
The brand says the production version of the X-Class ute will be launched in late 2017. The key markets for this vehicle are Argentina, Brazil, South Africa, Australia and the broader European market.