First Impressions: 2017 Mercedes-Benz Concept X-Class

First Impressions: 2017 Mercedes-Benz Concept X-Class
 

Mercedes-Benz chose the neutral location of Sweden to pull the wraps off its X-Class pick-up, writes Mark Smyth

What is this car all about?

Money, well sales to be more precise, which ultimately should turn into… money. The Mercedes people have done their research and expect a massive 39% rise in global sales of midsize pick-ups by 2025. And Merc has taken the easy route, using the relationship with the Renault-Nissan Alliance to leverage off the Nissan Navara platform. However, unlike others who have done the same, Merc has dipped into its own modular parts bin and made the X-Class every bit the three-pointed star.

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What’s under the hood?

At this stage all we know is there will be a 3.0-litre V6 petrol which will come from Mercedes and two turbodiesels, both from Nissan. We expect these to be the 2.3 dCi motors because that is was Renault will use in its Alaskan. Mercedes execs were shy about giving any power or performance figures and before you ask about an AMG version, we asked Daimler boss Dieter Zetsche and he says not right now. Translated into South African, that probably means now now.

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Does it stand out from the crowd?

If the crowd is the upcoming new Nissan Navara and its children; the Mitsubishi Triton, Fiat Fullback and Renault Alaskan, then yes. Actually it also stands out from the two big rivals, the Ford Ranger and Toyota Hilux. Mercedes could have changed little and just put a big star on the front, but they didn’t which is good because the X-Class is a premium bakkie, so expect a premium price and premium features when it arrives in SA early in 2018. Expect loads of accessories too, because the company has created a special division just to make accessories for the X-Class.

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What’s noteworthy on the inside?

Everything. Unlike the other children of Navara, Mercedes took out the entire interior and dropped in a bunch of stuff from the C-Class. It is all Merc from the seats to the dash, the instrument cluster to the infotainment system. It is all rather premium.

Mercedes-Benz Concept X-CLASS

Is it good to drive?

No idea, these are just concepts at this stage so we will have to wait another six months before there is a vehicle that we can drive. However, there will be 4×2 and 4×4 versions and the engineers are obsessed with providing Mercedes driving comfort so expect some models to have five-link rear suspension with specially adapted dampers aimed at ensuring smooth but dynamic handling. 4×4 versions will also have two diff-locks and a range of driver assistance systems for both off-road and on-road use.

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Who’s going to lose sleep about this car?

Definitely Nissan and the other Navara kids, Mitsubishi, Fiat and Renault. Ford and Toyota will also be rather worried, but will be hoping that the premium price puts the X-Class beyond the wallets of many of their customers. The only problem is that execs we spoke to are promising that while it is a premium bakkie, the premium price you pay will not be that much more than you’ll pay for a Nissan Navara. That will give rivals sleepless nights.