The Mercedes-Benz X-Class deserves to be the ute segment’s most expensive vehicle, according to the German luxury car maker.
Mercedes-Benz Australia has yet to confirm local pricing for the company’s first ever cab-chassis and dual-cab model, though in Europe it’s already carrying a significant price premium over competitors.
In the car maker’s home country, for example, the entry-level X-Class X220d costs €37,300 (about $56,000) compared with €30,600 ($46,000) for the base Volkswagen Amarok, which features a V6 diesel to the Benz’s four-cylinder.
Christian Pohl, Mercedes-Benz’s head of product and marketing for X-Class, told CarAdvice at the vehicle’s international drive launch in Chile that the company wasn’t being arrogant about pricing.
"We have a brand-specific premium against the Amarok [for example], but we won’t price ourselves out of the market," said Pohl. "We are being humble while we are self-confident about the product. We know we are last in segment, we know how competitive it is.
"As a luxury brand, you have to offer extra little things. I think it [X-Class] deserves a premium.
"We’re not arrogant and believe we can do everything better, but there’s a quality-to-price ratio – and we were looking at that when we developed the vehicle."
Mercedes-Benz Australia Vans spokesman, Blake Vincent, said it is aiming to be competitive with pricing, details of which could be revealed by the end of the year, ahead of its April 2018 local launch.
"A lot of work has gone into understanding the local market place, understanding the price positioning in the dual-cab market," he said. "We’ve got to make sure we’re attainable for that category.
"Our brand, equipment on the product … it will demand a premium but it’s also about making it attractive to the target customer. We benchmarked against key competitors, like your Ranger, Amarok, HiLux. They were really the main three, and Nissan Navara as well.
"How they’re positing their ranges. So, with Ford there’s XL and XLT, we’ve got Pure and Progressive line-up."
The Volkswagen Amarok, as the current segment benchmark, and the Nissan Navara that lent its underpinnings to the X-Class both make good comparison markers.
The Navara is priced from $32,990 for a 4x2 manual diesel, from $39,990 for a 4x4 manual diesel or from $42,490 for a 4x4 auto diesel.
The Amarok is priced from $32,990 in 2WD TDI340 form, or $49,990 in 4Motion TDI420 Trendline guise, and from $55,990 in V6 spec.
Our suggestion is that an X220d Pure RWD will start somewhere around the mid-$45K mark, with an X250d model likely to push into $60K territory in Power guise.
The X350d V6 turbo diesel, due mid-2018 with the segment’s highest power output (190kW), could potentially start below $70,000 in Progressive trim grade (there will be no Pure version), though a price above that seems inevitable for what would be the flagship V6 Power.
Vincent said Mercedes Australia used potential-customer clinics to gauge pricing and specification expectations.
"We did extensive focus groups not just on the price perspective, but also specification, such as what would be nice to have in a dual-cab ute.
"Towing capacity of 3.5 tonnes, making sure there was a one-tonne payload, and lot of accessories were some of key things.
"Design around the interior and comfort levels were also part of feedback. It’s a dual-purpose vehicle, so there is that commercial usage but lots of transition to private use, and that came through in the focus groups. There’s that heightened expectation about the way the vehicle performs."