X-Class concepts preview Mercedes-Benz's upcoming Navara-based dual-cab light-commercial ute, production is expected to commence late next year with Australian introduction in the first quarter of 2018.
Very rarely would you hear a Mercedes-Benz representative describe the prospects of a concept with the words, "Bring it on". Those words, uttered by David McCarthy, senior manager of public relations for Mercedes-Benz Australia, underlines the company's commitment to putting the X-Class one-ton pick-up truck into production.
Though long rumoured to be called the GLT, Mercedes-Benz says the new ute model will carry on with the X-Class moniker. It isn't just a whimsical concept that was built to test the waters. Mercedes-Benz says that they have done comprehensive research into its target audience, and will be injecting ‘high nine-figure (euro)' investment by the time production commences in late 2017.
Australia has been cited as one of the key markets for the X-Class, with its unique buyer demographic comprised of families with an active lifestyle, outdoor adventurers, and small business owners. The other key markets in Mercedes-Benz' study being Argentina, Brazil, South Africa, and Europe.
Although the concept is the work of Mercedes-Benz Vans, and will become the fourth model series in its division, Mercedes-Benz is not just training its sights on delivering a ‘workhorse' ute, but one that will appeal to those who like their utes to have car-like characteristics, performance, safety, and comfort.
Thanks to Daimler AG's six-year old strategic cooperation with the Renault-Nissan Alliance, development of the X-Class from concept to production has been fast tracked with the ute to be based on the current Nissan Navara/Renault Alaskan.
While the X-Class ute will be built on the Navara's ladder frame chassis, it will feature permanent all-wheel drive from a 4MATIC system. The all-wheel drive system will utilise an electronic traction control, transfer case with reduction gear, and two differential locks to maximise traction. Like existing Navara dual cabs, the X-Class will come fitted with a five-link rear axle with coil spring setup, instead of a traditional leaf spring rear suspension, to deliver better ride comfort and refinement.
The final product boasts a possible towing capacity of up to 3.5 tonnes.
As for what lies under the hood, McCarthy confirms that the X-Class will feature powertrains from Mercedes-Benz, with a choice of a four-cylinder petrol, and a four-cylinder and a range-topping V6 diesel. By Mercedes estimates, the final product would be able to haul a payload of more than 1.1 tonne, and boasts a possible towing capacity of up to 3.5 tonnes.
This bespoke drivetrain differs from the also Navara-derived Renault Alaskan which uses the same four-wheel drive layout and Nissan/Renault co-developed turbodiesel engines. The Alaskan is also yet to be confirmed for Australia.
As a show of intent, the X-Class concept was presented in Stockholm in two design variants of the dual-cab ute concept, titled the ‘stylish explorer' and ‘powerful adventurer', each designed to highlight its appeal to its target audience.
Resplendent in white metallic, with its sleek trim pieces, clean surfaces, massive 22-inch alloy wheels in contrasting anthracite chrome finish, and low-profile tyres, the ‘stylish explorer' highlights the X-Class' shape as an ute suited for the urban life.
To match its sophisticated exterior appearance, the cabin is trimmed in a tantalising brown and white leather combination, typically more suited for a limousine than a ute. The cabin sports familiar design elements such as the rounded air-conditioning vents, free-standing central display for the multimedia system with a centre controller and multi-function touchpad, and the same sort of switchgear that you would find on Mercedes-Benz's passenger cars.
Production for Australian-bound X-Class is slated to start in late-2017.
If the ‘stylish explorer' is comparable to an S-Class in ute form, the ‘powerful adventurer' takes on a more rugged makeover that is more akin to the G63 6x6. Fitted with huge chunky off-road tyres that raises the height to a staggering 1.9m, matte-carbon wheel arches, SUV-style radiator grille with two louvres, and an electric winch, the ‘powerful adventurer' shows off its more adventurous side.
On the inside the concept features sportier trim with carbon elements, brushed metallic surfaces, and a striking colour combination that reflects the concept's lemonax metallic yellow paint job.
While it is uncertain how much of the concept's luxurious trappings will filter down to the actual production model, Mercedes-Benz assures that the production X-Class will come with several advanced connective features. Users will be able to pair their mobile devices to the ute's communication module to upload navigation destinations, as well as query its parked location or even how much fuel it has in store. The ute will also have standard connected services for accident recovery, maintenance management, and breakdown management. Furthermore in typical Mercedes-Benz fashion, the X-Class won't be short on safety features, with modern camera- and radar-based driver assistance systems to be fitted.
Production for Australian-bound X-Class is slated to start in late-2017 will models rolling out from Nissan's Barcelona plant. Its Australian arrival is set for the first quarter of 2018.