- New Mercedes pickup officially shown in concept guise
- X-Class name is confirmed; it won’t be called the GLT
- Full details, pictures and on sale information revealed
UPDATE: for full details of the production version of the new Mercedes-Benz X-Class click here
Mercedes-Benz Vans has unveiled its new X-Class pickup truck concepts at a special event in Stockholm, Sweden on 25 October 2016.
The new Mercedes pickup – which is based on the same platform as the Nissan Navara and Renault Alaskan – took to the stage in not one but two concept designs, the X-Class Powerful Adventurer and the X-Class Stylish Explorer.
With its sleek exterior and luxurious interior, Mercedes’ new pickup has lifestyle buyers firmly in its sights, and will be looking to knock the VW Amarok down a peg or two when it's revealed in production form in July 2017.
The X-Class doesn't actually go on sale in the UK until early 2018, but in February 2017 Mercedes revealed that demand was so high it was offering keen customers a special reservation service. For more details on that click here.
Customers who have signed up for this (and we understand there have been over 600 orders) may even get their X-Classes before the end of 2017.
The world's first premium luxury pickup?
Mercedes claims the X-Class will be 'the world’s first true premium pickup for the modern urban lifestyle' – though VW may have a word or two to say about that.
Mercedes also claims that by the time the X-Class reaches showrooms - becoming its fourth light commercial vehicle (LCV) model line alongside the Sprinter, Vito and Citan - it will have invested Euros 'in the high nine figures' bringing it to market.
The German firm is not messing around.
What can we expect from the Mercedes-Benz X-Class pickup?
'Our future X-Class will be a pickup that knows no compromise,' said Head of Mercedes-Benz Vans, Volker Mornhinweg.
'Ladder-type frame, high-torque six-cylinder engine, and permanent all-wheel drive are compulsory for us. As an added value we bring safety, comfort, agility and expressive design – in other words, everything that distinguishes vehicles bearing the Mercedes star.
'We will thus appeal to new customers who have not considered owning a pickup before.'
The ladder-frame chassis is borrowed from the Nissan Navara. But we're told that 'everything you see and touch will be Mercedes', and that the X-Class is 'significantly' wider than the Navara it's based on – both in terms of the exterior body and the amount of space on the inside.
Mercedes will use its own V6 diesel engine at the top of the new X-Class range, giving it what's described as 'superior' power and torque, and the four-wheel drive system will carry the same 4Matic branding as other Mercedes-Benz vehicles.
On the inside the cab features elements familiar from the C-Class and V-Class passenger cars, and should be instantly recognisable as a Mercedes as well as bringing a 'new level' of comfort to mid-size pickups.
Will the X-Class be good to drive?
There should be more comfort in the driving experience, too. The extra width of the X-Class extends to the suspension, helping Mercedes to achieve improved ride quality and 'faster cornering' with less lean.
Like the Navara, it has five-link rear suspension with coil springs – a much more modern set-up than the bouncy rear leaf springs most pickups still use – but Mercedes has applied its own tuning to further refine comfort; the same goes for the front suspension, too.
As a result, we're told the X-Class will 'absorb bumps in a superior fashion,'while offering 'precise steering' and 'agile cornering', all intended to make it 'a perfect fit for the urban environment.'
In other words, the X-Class should bring a particularly car-like driving experience to the pickup truck market – in much the same way that the Mercedes M-Class reinvented off-roaders as SUVs in the mid-1990s.
Expect plenty of modern gadgets as well – dealing with everything from connectivity to safety. A built-in mobile phone SIM card will enable X-Class owners to connect to their pickup remotely, to see where it’s parked and how much fuel is in it (for example) and also access accident and emergency services including breakdown recovery.
In addition to the usual electronic stability control, the X-Class will be available with a large number of the latest camera- and radar-assisted safety systems; Mercedes is a leader in this area, so again expect the X-Class to step well beyond the usual pickup truck fare.
What about payload, load area dimensions and practicality?
Mercedes has confirmed the X-Class will have a payload of 'up to 1.2 tonnes'and a towing capacity of 'up to 3.5 tonnes', and will be able to transport 'four cubic metres of firewood'.
The four-wheel drive system is available with a low-range transfer case and two electronically activated differential locks (centre and rear), to help it tackle serious off-roading. But that’s all the concrete details we have so far.
However, since it’s based on the Navara, we can make an estimate of the loadbed dimensions. Nissan’s double cab has a maximum load length of 1,578mm and a maximum load width of 1,560mm (with 1,130m between the wheelarches), and 474mm sidewalls.
The sidewalls are a little on the low side, but the 2.46-metre square load area is one of the largest in the double-cab class – which gives the Mercedes a promising start on the practicality front. A range of accessories, all 'designed, engineered and tested by Mercedes' will also be on offer, including loadbed covers and hardtops.
Overall, the X-Class will be in the region of 5.3m long, 1.9m wide and 1.85m tall – just like the rest of the double-cab segment.
The V6 diesel won’t be the only engine; the X-Class is a global product, requiring a wide range of petrol and diesel engines depending on market.
UK buyers, for example, can expect to see the same 2.3-litre four-cylinder diesel engine that Nissan uses in the Navara. Whether Mercedes will choose to use the less powerful single-turbo version is uncertain at this stage, but certainly the 190hp twin-turbo will appear in the X-Class – although perhaps recalibrated to deliver more power.
The firm will not be drawn on power and torque figures at this stage, saying the launch is still a year away, and that it wants to ensure that it will be competitive at that time. And by competitive we strongly suspect it means 'has more powerful engines than anyone else.'
Mercedes has let slip that the V6 diesel will be familiar from its passenger car range. This likely means it's similar to the 3.0-litre engine fitted in the GLE SUV, which produces 258bhp and a staggering 620Nm of torque – comfortably beyond anything offered by any other pickup in the UK, including the latest V6 VW Amarok and the five-cylinder Ford Ranger.
Alongside the range-topping full-time four-wheel drive system, both rear-wheel drive and selectable four-wheel drive will be offered (though again depending on market), and both manual and automatic gearboxes will be available.
Of the two X-Class concepts, the Stylish Explorer is designed to really highlight the new pickup’s lifestyle aspirations.
The classy metallic white paint provides high contrast – all the better to show off the bulging power dome bonnet and the substantially flared wheelarches, which cover massive 22-inch alloy wheels finished in anthracite.
The front-end is part Mercedes SUV, part Mercedes coupe – the latter particularly evident in the swept-back LED headlights and single-louvre grille with its large, centrally mounted three-pointed star badging. You aren’t going to mistake this truck for anything else. And while that 'bone-shaped' lower front bumper looks like it will prevent much in the way of serious off-roading, there's actually plenty of ground clearance; the front overhang is particularly short as well.
Even so, Mercedes says the lines on the side are intended to emphasise the X-Class’s driving dynamics, making it clear where the Stylish Explorer’s priorities lie. The chrome at the rear is a direct reference to Mercedes’ SUV models, while the long LED lighting strip on the tailgate 'points to the unique character of the future pickup', so that’s one detail we can expect to see in production.
On the inside brown nubuck leather combines with white nappa leather and open-pore smoked oak wood trim, reflecting the modern luxury feel of the latest Mercedes cars.
The free-standing central display screen is also directly influenced by Mercedes’ car design, while the touchpad that controls this offers smartphone-style levels of interaction. Note the automatic gearbox.
While the materials are particularly intricate on the concepts, most of the shapes and practicality elements look ready for production. There is nothing overly outlandish here.
The Powerful Adventurer concept is an effort to point out that Mercedes hasn’t entirely misunderstood what pickups are supposed to be for, and that the X-Class will be a tough truck as well as a good-looking one.
Finished in 'lemonax' matte paint, it stands 1.9m tall thanks to an enormous set of off-road tyres and seeing it in the metal suggests is modestly lifted suspension. The front end still seems to favour style over function, though, with a jutting lip and integrated electric winch. Matte carbonfibre wheelarches complete the almost total lack of subtlety.
On the inside there’s more matte carbonfibre, combined with black nappa leather, lemonax highlights and brushed metallic accents – not to mention heavily bolstered seats for when the going gets properly tough.
Again, the details might be fussy, but the fundamentals look ready to go, and if Mercedes wants to stand out in this sector, having interiors finished to this quality is certainly going to help.
That Mercedes has chosen to show two different concept versions of the X-Class suggests it plans to offer similar variation when it comes to the production model – giving buyers the option to go for a fully road-oriented version if they only plan to use the new pickup as a particularly versatile family or lifestyle vehicle.
Mercedes X-Class price, on-sale date and availability
Since the X-Class isn’t due to go on sale until late 2017 it’s a little early to be talking about pricing – but suffice to say this is likely to enter the market as the most expensive mid-size pickup you can buy. So not only will you need to budget more than it costs to purchase the closely-related Nissan Navara, but expect to pay more than you would for a Volkswagen Amarok as well.
All European X-Classes will be built by Nissan in Barcelona, in the same factory as the Navara. We anticipate that initial demand will considerably outstrip supply, as the UK will be competing for right-hand drive production allocation with markets such as Australia, where mid-size pickups make up over 14% of the vehicle market.
Still, with mid-size pickups accounting for 1.3% of the (much larger) UK market, we are an important destination for the X-Class, and the new Mercedes is likely to go down very well with business users looking to take advantage of flat-rate tax rules – which it qualifies for through its one-tonne payload rating.
And just to confirm, the X-Class will be sold through the Mercedes-Benz Vans dealer network here, so you won't be able to buy one in a Mercedes car showroom...