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Mercedes shows its ‘pioneer premium pick-up’

Brand believes it can attract premium SUV buyers to its pick-up

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Mercedes-Benz has unveiled a pair of X-Class pick-up concepts, showcasing big ambitions for the brand in both commercial vehicle and retail car showrooms.

The decision to enter the pick-up market is perhaps no surprise as Mercedes seeks to expand its influence in the LCV sector. But with the X-Class, that will launch in late 2017, the brand is not just targeting the business users, building contractors and such like more likely to be browsing our sister site The Van Expert.

Mercedes-Benz X-Class ‘Powerful Adventurer’ (left) and ‘Stylish Explorer’ (right) concepts are targeting two different segments of the pick-up market

Just as important to the brand’s aims are more lifestyle-orientated buyers, such as off-roaders and adventurers, and the creators of the new vehicle are missing no opportunity to dub it the world’s first premium pick-up.

As such the two concepts unveiled boast very different looks – the Concept X ‘Stylish Explorer’ previews a production model that will be seeking car buyers with its SUV-related visuals, more heavily sculpted body, flared wheelarches and a power dome on the bonnet.

The ‘Powerful Explorer’, in contrast, offers a higher ground clearance, all-wheel-drive, extra cladding and scuff plates and off-road wheels and tyres.

The production versions will both, however, be full-house pick-ups, Mercedes-Benz having ensured this by entering into an agreement with the Renault-Nissan Alliance. As a result the X-Class will be one of three sister models, the others being Renault’s equally new Alaskan and the latest version of the Nissan Navara, which has a long and jealously-guarded reputation in the pick-up market to maintain.

Therefore the three models are modelled around a traditional ladder-frame design including a five-link rear axle and coil springs, with a payload capacity of up to 1.1 tonnes and a towing capacity to 3.5 tonnes.

Powertrains are yet to be specified, Mercedes only stating that range-topping versions will use a V6 engine with permanent all-wheel-drive and lockable differentials.

Currently it appears only a double-cab version of the X-Class will be offered, with four doors and a five-seat capacity, the rear passengers sitting on a bench seat. And the Mercedes aim to attract premium SUV buyers is indicated by the interior trim of the Stylish Explorer, which includes brown and white leather alongside oak wood and brushed aluminium, and a smartphone-style multifunctional touchpad. controlling all the vehicle’s telematics.

“We want to offer customers vehicles matching their specific needs – the X-Class will set new standards in a growing segment,” said Daimler chairman Mercedes-Benz Cars head Dr Dieter Zetsche.

And the brand is investing heavily in its new direction – to “the high nine figures” in Euros by the time of the market launch. The first version on sale is expected to be the production version of the Stylish Explorer in late 2017.

Key markets for the new model will be Argentina, Brazil, South Africa, Australia, and Europe. In Australia pick-ups have the biggest slice of the car market, at more than 14 per cent.

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Andrew Charman
Andrew Charman
Andrew is a road test editor for The Car Expert. He is a member of the Guild of Motoring Writers, and has been testing and writing about new cars for more than 20 years. Today he is well known to senior personnel at the major car manufacturers and attends many new model launches each year.