Yes, Bentley has rolled out an SUV, but did you seriously imagine Mercedes-Benz coming out with a pickup truck? As in a one-ton midsize pickup in the same size department as the Ford Ranger and the Toyota Hilux? We bet you didn’t. And neither did we.
But this is for real, guys: The German automaker famous for luxury sedans is launching a pickup model called the X-Class late next year. It will be targeted at key markets in Europe, Latin America, South Africa and Australia. Other surprising facts you need to know? This product will be built in cooperation with the Renault-Nissan Alliance, which means it will be based on the Nissan Navara platform.
Mercedes is quick to label this as the “first premium pickup,” and just as quick to remind the world that it was also the first premium automotive brand to introduce an SUV with the M-Class two decades ago. Its motivation? The fact that pickups today are no longer exclusively utilized as workhorses for businesses, but also as lifestyle vehicles used to pursue an active lifestyle. Thus, it will be aimed at rich guys who need a swanky transporter for their expensive mountain bikes.
“With the Mercedes-Benz pickup, we will close one of the last gaps in our portfolio,” said Daimler AG chairman Dr. Dieter Zetsche in a statement. “We want to offer customers vehicles matching their specific needs. The X-Class will set new standards in a growing segment.”
Added Mercedes-Benz Vans head Volker Mornhinweg: “We will open up and change the segment of midsize pickups with the world’s first true premium pickup for the modern urban lifestyle. Our future X-Class will be a pickup truck that knows no compromise. Ladder-type frame, high-torque six-cylinder engine, and permanent all-wheel drive are compulsory for us. We will thus appeal to new customers who have not considered owning a pickup before.”
A range of engines will serve under the hood of the X-Class. No specifics have been announced, save for the fact that the top-of-the-line variant will be propelled by a V6 diesel complemented by Mercedes’s 4Matic permanent all-wheel drive. Projected payload is at more than 1.1 tons, and towing capacity is expected to hit 3.5 tons. Clearly, this is not some pasosyal Chedeng pickup.
To give you an idea about the mechanicals hiding underneath this pickup’s sheet metal, consider this portion from the press statement: “The specially constructed suspension with wide axles, a five-link rear axle with coil springs, and a precisely calibrated spring/damper setup will ensure a high ride comfort—on the road and off the road.”
According to Mercedes, five customer groups have been identified for the X-Class: active families with a fondness for premium products; successful urban adventurers who dig outdoor sports; trend-conscious individuals; business owners; and landowners. In short, moneyed people who are bored with their sedans and minivans.
Don’t sneer, though. We have a feeling this model will sell like hotcakes for Mercedes-Benz, which should then force other premium brands to consider launching their own pickup trucks.
What’s next? A Ferrari mini hatchback?