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The Mercedes-Benz X-Class is in hot demand! Did the German brand give up on utes too quickly? | Opinion

The Mercedes-Benz X-Class is in high demand despite being axed by the German brand.

Hindsight is wonderful. No-one would ever make the wrong decision if they could sneak ahead into the future and see what the impact would really be, and then adjust accordingly.

But, unfortunately, we don’t live in a world like that, which means sometimes decisions get made that turn out to be the wrong ones.

For example, did Mercedes-Benz give up on the X-Class too soon? Because a look at the used car prices for these German utes on our sister classifieds website, Autotrader.com.au, suggest interest in the X-Class remains high.

As we’ve written previously, the X-Class seemed like it had all the elements it needed to be a sales success. The most popular premium brand was joining a burgeoning ute market at a time when people were beginning to pay more for a more luxurious and/or powerful ute.

In the end it lasted just two years in Australia, arriving in 2018 and disappearing from the showroom by the end of 2020.

At the time of its demise, the range-topping X350d was priced at $79,415 (plus on-road costs), but according to the ads on Autotrader that money will only get you a model with more than 60,000km on the odometer already. 

At the time of writing there were more than a dozen X350d advertised on Autotrader for more than the original list price. The most expensive example advertised is a 2018 X350d for $109,886 (plus on-road costs), which the advertiser claims has just 80km on the clock. That’s a $30,000 premium for a four-year-old car.

Of course, an advertised price doesn’t mean that’s what the car is worth or even what someone is willing to pay for it, but with so many high asking prices for X-Class, it does suggest that demand for the German ute is perhaps stronger than it was when it was new.

Mercedes undoubtedly made a mistake originally launching the X-Class with only a four-cylinder turbo-diesel engine and not the more powerful V6. And it did arrive at a time when buyers hadn’t yet accepted that a dual-cab ute could be worth more than $70k, but with the emergence of the likes of the Ford Ranger Raptor, Volkswagen Amarok W580 and other premium-priced utes, things have changed.

Which makes you wonder what might have happened if Mercedes had stuck to its supposed original plan, which was to assess the market with the Nissan Navara-based model and then take those learnings and develop their own, in-house built ute.

If people are truly willing to pay over original pricing for used examples - in some cases with more than 40,000km on the odo - Mercedes may have been rewarded if they’d had more patience.

Like any in-demand commodity that it’s in short supply, the price will go up. Unquestionably one element of X-Class’ current price position is the overall lack of supply across the car industry. Buyers looking for a V6-powered ute who are unable to secure an alternative, or simply couldn’t get an X-Class before it was axed during the pandemic-impacted 2020, will now be fighting for what’s left.

Or perhaps the X-Class has suffered the same fate as Vincent Van Gogh, under-appreciated in its time but valued now that it’s gone…