Mercedes has at last pulled the covers off what just might be the most hotly anticipated commercial vehicle of all time, unveiling its new X-Class ute at a launch event in South Africa.
After what felt like an endless parade of concept vehicles, camouflaged cars and teaser videos, the “world’s first premium pick-up” has at last arrived.
And while Australian cars won’t arrive until early next year, Mercedes-Benz executives told CarsGuide they’ve been flooded with customer enquiry, with Aussies who have registered their interest already numbering “in the thousands”.
“It’s very exciting. Australia is one of the key markets, and what’s been great is that we’ve been involved from the start in terms of design, development and in defining the target market,” Mercedes-Benz Australia's managing director - vans, Diane Tarr, told CarsGuide.
“It’s an opportunity to expand the segment in Australia. There’s strong competition, but for us to be part of that, and to expand it with a real premium product, means the opportunities are great.”
We now know that customers can expect a three engine line-up, with a pair of four-cylinder diesel engines occupying the lowest rungs on the X-Class ladder. The entry-level X 220d will produce 120kW/403Nm, while the mid-spec X 250d will push out 140kW/450Nm.
Both four-cylinder models will drive the rear wheels as standard, but a push-button four-wheel drive system can be optioned, and will include low-range and a differential lock.
The X 350d will sit at the top of the X-Class tree, powered by a diesel V6 that will fire 190kW/550Nm to all four wheels as standard.
The dual-cab-only X-Class is based heavily on the Nissan Navara, and is built out of the same Spanish factory, but Mercedes says it has given its version a wider track and reworked the suspension to provide a more comfortable ride and better dynamics in corners.
To say the X-Class looks unlike any Mercedes to have gone before it is a given, but special attention was paid to making Benz’s new ute look wide and tough to ensure it appeals to its toolbox-lugging target market. The lined tub will carry 1.1 tonnes, while braked towing capacity is listed at a maximum 3.5 tonnes, though the latter is only in the V6 variant.
Inside, you’ll find few telltale pointers to the X-Class’s humble Japanese origins, with top-spec models particularly, home to fine materials, as well as the German brand’s familiar equipment and technology. Mercedes says its full suite of safety systems will be available on the X-Class, too.
The range will arrive in three distinct flavours. The Pure trim is the obligatory, pared-back workhorse variant. The mid-spec Progressive model ups the styling and technology, while the top-tier Power is pitched as a 'lifestyle' vehicle, and is aimed at those unlikely to ever muddy their tyres on something as uncouth as a worksite.
And so, the price. Mercedes has so far kept mum on Australian pricing, but an entry-level model will set you back 37,000 Euro in Germany (about $55k in Australian dollars). That said, executives point to top-tier HiLux ($56,390) and Ranger ($60,090) models as a guide on local pricing.
“Naturally we will look at specification and make sure we have the right level of equipment, and at the same time we need to be competitive. We are premium, so we have to be able to balance that with the segment and the competition,” Tarr says.