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Mercedes ute promises car comfort and truck cred

A rendering of how the Mercedes-Benz ute could look.

Want proof Australians can't spend enough on their utes?

The top-of-the-range Ford Ranger Wildtrak is sold out for three months, despite costing in excess of $65,000. The top-line Toyota HiLux, in the same price bracket, accounts for more than one-third of HiLux sales.

This goes some way to explaining why Mercedes-Benz is working full speed ahead on a pick-up of its own, due here by 2020 (we're tipping sooner).

Benz is banking on HiLux and Ranger buyers wanting to upgrade a few years from now.

After all, the top-end versions of the HiLux and Ranger are already dearer than a Mercedes C-Class sedan, and rarely leave the showroom without thousands of dollars' worth of accessories added.

Commercial vehicles boss Volker Mornhinweg will be in Australia soon learning more about the demands of local ute buyers. He told CarsGuide at this week's Geneva motor show that utes are among the most challenging vehicles to develop, because they are effectively four cars in one.

Mercedes will develop its own suspension, steering and rolling gear — and add its V6 turbo diesel

In the modern ute, he says, buyers now demand car-like comfort and safety, a tray capable of taking a heavy load, towing capacity of 3.5 tonnes and extreme off-road ability.

No other vehicle must meet so many criteria and he reckons Australian ute buyers are the most demanding.

He didn't give too much away about Benz's first pick-up but we gleaned a few more details. It is based on the chassis used for the Nissan Navara but Mercedes will develop its own suspension, steering and add its V6 turbo diesel to make it the most powerful ute in its class.

Benz also promises class-leading safety and technology.

Most telling, however, is Mornhinweg's familiarity with the current crop of utes — and the respect he has for the durability of the HiLux and the driveability of the Ranger.

Hopefully, this means the Mercedes-Benz ute won't feel like a rush job — unlike the Navara, with which it shares its underpinnings.

Do you think Mercedes can take it to the established ute kings? Tell us what you think in the comments below.