January 19, 2017
Behold the Mercedes-Benz Pickup Truck—Seriously
When you’re in the market for a pickup truck, you generally have the same brands to choose from. You have the Ford F-series, the Silverado and Colorado from Chevy, the Toyota Tacoma and Tundra, the GMC Sierra and Canyon, and the Ram 1500. Nissan does offer the Frontier and the Titan, and even Honda has joined the fray with their Ridgeline.
You don’t however, think about what luxury brand Mercedes-Benz has in store for you when it comes it pickup trucks. It’s not even easy to imagine what such a beast would like. But now you don’t have to imagine it. You can just see it for yourself.
Yes it’s true. Mercedes-Benz did announce back in 2015 that they were developing a pickup truck. But it wasn’t easy to take it seriously, since when they made that announcement they only had a rough concept sketch to show for it.
But now it really is here—the first Mercedes-Benz pickup truck. It’s called the X-class, and it’s a real treat to see that MB 3-pointed star logo right on the nose of a pickup.
What Does It Look Like?
You can just look at the pictures for yourself and decide. From the side, the midsize X-Class concept does have a slight similarity with the Nissan Navara. But overall the rest of the design cues are all unique Mercedes-Benz. The front does remind you a bit of the AMG GT, though you get a different headlight. The LED headlights are slim and mounted high. This gives it a rather sporty look that’s uncommon in the pickup niche.
The stylistic features include oversized tires, wheel arches with dramatic flaring, an electric winch, and a new grid design for the tailgate. On the inside, you get carbon and brushed metal surfaces. The black leather upholstery and accents somehow match up well with the metallic “Lemonax” paint on the outside. If there’s some sort of problem, there’s even a fire extinguisher on the dashboard.
The X-class concept has 2 versions right now. One version is obviously ready for off-road shenanigans. Supposedly, Mercedes-Benz will offer a slew of choices when it comes to your engine. They’ve also revealed that the top trim will have a diesel V6 along with a 4MATIC permanent 4-wheel drive.
This AWD system includes a transfer case with reduction gear, an electronic traction system, and a couple of differential locks. The electronic on-demand differential locks will work with the traction system so that you get the power to the wheel with the most traction.
That should be able to carry up to 2,200 pounds, and tow as much as 7,000 pounds. That’s not bad at all, considering that’s it’s a midsize pickup. In real world terms, you can carry about 4 cubic meters of firewood to your vacation cabin, while you’re pulling your sailboat.
There’s also a concept car focused on the luxury aspect. This will have cream leather and wood finishes. Mercedes-Benz has said that interior components from the V-class and the C-class will find its way in the X-class interior.
Both the luxury and the off-road version will have the standard Mercedes Benz tech and switch gear. You will also have that familiar touchpad interface that lets you control all the truck functions. There’s also an innovative mobile SIM card built in, so that you can find and check on your car through your smartphone app.
Will This Sell?
Mercedes Benz plans to sell the X-class in Europe and the Middle East, Brazil and Argentina, South Africa, and Australia and New Zealand. The production is planned to start in late 2017.
Mercedes-Benz is still ambivalent whether the X-class will be available in the US. It’s still under consideration. But the bigger question is probably whether Mercedes-Benz should even sell it anywhere. Is there really a market for what Mercedes-Benz calls the premium pickup truck niche?
The answer lies in the badge’s history. As you may recall, Mercedes-Benz was the first to come up with a premium SUV when it launched its M-class back in the 1990s. Now this is an overcrowded niche filled with numerous luxury brands. Even Porsche joined in the trend.
Now this time Mercedes-Benz is betting that there’s a market out there for a premium pickup truck. It’s much the same with the premium SUV. With the pickup truck, you get functionality and recreation, commercial usage, and just undeniable machismo.
Mercedes-Benz has targeted countries with sizable midsize pickup truck sales. This segment accounts for 5% of the Brazilian car market, 11.6% in Argentina, and a whopping 14.1% in Australia. The segment is also growing steadily in both Germany and the UK.
Mercedes-Benz is betting that buyers will want a premium option for their pickup trucks. If they’re right, then having the sole premium pickup truck will reap big dividends for the Mercedes-Benz badge.