Mercedes-Benz has previewed in concept form the X-class - the brand’s new entrant into the pickup segment and in Mercedes’ words, the first premium brand pickup.
It’s being launched under the Mercedes-Benz Vans brand, which gives a clue as to the vehicle’s eventual positioning when it debuts in production form. This won’t, despite initial appearances, join C-classes and GLEs in the standard Mercedes range, but be positioned as a working vehicle - albeit one better appointed than most others in its class.
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The three-pointed star badge will no doubt attract customers from outside its target audience however, and Mercedes has presented two different variants to give a flavour of the car’s varying roles.
In vibrant “lemonax” metallic paintwork the X-class “powerful adventurer” is the most eye-catching and has a distinct off-road slant. With tyres not dissimilar to Icelandic explorer trucks and underbody cladding and an electric winch it’s certainly the tougher of the two concepts, and the tailgate, designed to look like netting, is a neat design touch.
The “stylish explorer” (yes, they called it that) takes a different approach with a more contemporary Mercedes-Benz vibe - fresh white metallic paintwork, 22-inch multi-spoke alloy wheels, and a continuous band of LED lighting that encircles the tailgate.
It’s the more luxurious inside too, with contrasting brown nubuck leather on the seats and white nappa leather on the dashboard, along with a wooden finish dash panel (with no sign of the fire extinguisher that sits there in the “powerful adventurer”) and aluminium details throughout the cabin.
Given how close the Concept X-class looks to production (though it’s sure to lose some of the more intriguing details), it’s unsurprising that Mercedes has already confirmed a V6 diesel engine will top the range. 4Matic all-wheel drive will be standard, with a transfer case, two lockable differentials and electronic traction control.
Given the X-class is also a traditional body-on-frame pickup, Mercedes also quotes a 1.1-ton payload capacity and a tow rating of up to 3.5 tons. We’re hearing “race car tow vehicle” from those figures…
Dr Dieter Zetsche, Chairman of the Board of Daimler AG and Head of Mercedes-Benz Cars, says the X-class will close one of the gaps in Mercedes’ vehicle portfolio, and the brand intends the car to bridge the gap between its more conventional models and its commercial vehicles. Australia, Latin America, South Africa and Europe will all be key markets for the new truck.