Mercedes-Benz X-Class preview
The world's first 'premium pickup' according to Mercedes-Benz (neatly ignoring Volkswagen and its Amarok in the process), set for launch in late 2017. It will be the first-ever pickup truck made by Mercedes-Benz and though it's latching onto the three-pointed star's premium image right now, it will be marketed through the Mercedes-Benz Vans commercial vehicles dealer chain, joining the Vito and Sprinter already sold in Ireland.
What will its rivals be?
Despite the German company's protestations otherwise, the X-Class will have plenty of competition when it goes on sale. The Volkswagen Amarok, Toyota Hilux and Ford Ranger are closest in concept, but you shouldn't rule out the impressive Nissan NP300 Navara and Mitsubishi L200 either, plus the forthcoming Renault Alaskan. While the majority of sales are for workhorse vehicles in this segment, there's an undeniable shift towards more demand for 'lifestyle' versions, which is where the recently launched Amarok V6 comes in. So far in 2017, the Ford Ranger is the biggest seller, followed by the Hilux, the Nissan, Mitsubishi and Volkswagen.
Any tech info?
At the time of writing, we've only seen a concept version of the X-Class, but that did feature a production-ready communication module with on-board SIM card. That will make it possible to use the Mercedes me connect services, where drivers can connect with their pickup by smartphone, tablet or PC at any time and from anywhere. For example, to send navigation destinations to the vehicle or query where the pickup is parked and how much fuel is in the tank. In addition to these optional remote online services, standard services such as accident recovery, maintenance management and breakdown management will also be available.
What will the range be like?
This requires a little guesswork, though Mercedes did hint at two distinct types of vehicle with its concept X-Class. The first, tagged 'stylish explorer', is designed to be good-looking and suit those that don't necessarily need a rugged workhorse, but instead the extra load space and SUV-like appearance. The second is called the 'powerful adventurer' and in concept form this sits on large wheels and tyres and has a no-nonsense toughness to it. We expect Mercedes to offer a wide range of options to allow buyers to customise their X-Class according to requirements. It's likely that all will feature 4Matic four-wheel drive and a development of the company's proven twin-turbocharged 2.1-litre diesel engine.
We hope the showroom-bound X-Class looks half as good as the very stylish concept model and that there are suitably tough-looking derivatives to give it added menace. That aside, we expect Mercedes to give Volkswagen's Amarok in particular something to think about, even if the market is likely to continue to favour established mass-market brands.