It’s been a while since Mercedes-Benz introduced an entire new model line, and by that I mean ‘single letter’ model line. Sure, the CLA (2012), GLA (2013) and a range of other SUVs and crossovers including the new GLC have been introduced in recent years, but these cars are more or less based on already existing models or effectively replacing models that were named differently before.
2005, that was the year when the first generation B-Class hit the market, and now, eleven years later on a rainy night in Stockholm, Sweden, Mercedes-Benz takes the wraps off what represents the beginning of an entire new class on its own: The Mercedes-Benz X-Class Concept vehicle. Now the B-Class and the X-Class couldn’t be any more different, both letters find themselves on different spectrums of the alphabet and they just about have the characteristic MB star logo in common.
This X-Class concept car marks the beginning for Mercedes-Benz’ entrance into the worldwide pick-up truck market. With a production model set to launch in late 2017, the German brand plays it safe by not immediately taking on competition in North America. Instead, Europe, Latin America, South Africa and Australia are the anticipated key markets.
Billions with a B, that’s what the premium car manufacturer from Stuttgart has invested in their all-new pick-up truck, which knows two design variants. The powerful adventurer more represents the classical values of what a pick-up truck should embody, while the stylish explorer is clearly distinguished by its luxurious, typically Mercedes-Benz fashion.
Dr Dieter Zetsche, Chairman of the Board of Daimler AG and Head of Mercedes-Benz Cars: “With the Mercedes-Benz pickup, we will close one of the last gaps in our portfolio. Our target: we want to offer customers vehicles matching their specific needs. The X-Class will set new standards in a growing segment.”
Opening up and changing the segment of mid-size pickups, that’s Mercedes-Benz’ main objective with the introduction of the X-Class. A high-torque six-cylinder engine, permanent all-wheel drive and a ladder-type frame will headline Mercedes’ newest addition to the line-up. The brand’s main motivation to enter the pick-up market emerged from the fact that the worldwide market is radically changing. Times that pick-up trucks were merely associated with the word ‘workhorse’ are very much behind us, and instead the changing pick-up market is quite comparable to the transition that the worldwide SUV market once made.
Nowadays pick-ups are gaining worldwide popularity and seen as versatile day-to-day vehicles for both commercial and private use. The market has been showing steady growth for years, from which automatically demand for a broader and more differentiated offering emerges. Who else than Mercedes-Benz would be fit to foresee in the demand of premium pick-up trucks?
The Concept X-Class stylish explorer boasts a progressive design borrowing the brand’s SUV looks. Set to stand out in its urban environment, a bright shade of white metallic paint covers the stylish explorer. Its muscular front clearly resembles Mercedes’ recent SUV design language, while the flared wheel arches compliment its wider stance even further. Both the flared front and rear arches provide plenty of space for some serious rubber entailing 22-inch light-alloy wheels with a contrasting anthracite chrome finish.
What’s more are the pick-up’s dimensions on both the front and the rear. The overhang at the front is quite short, while the overhang at the rear is very long. At the rear of the pick-up concept eyes are immediately drawn to the interesting continuous LED light strip that basically surrounds the entire tailgate.
Inside the interior can justifiable be called ‘stylish’, clearly setting it apart from the status quo pick-ups that currently dominate the market. Premium materials make up an otherwise clean interior with a nice dark wood dashboard, and comfortable looking seats and leather steering wheel in matching colors. The contrast with the white is also something traditionally Mercedes-Benz, where usually its designo interior boasts a lighter ‘saddle brown’ color, the darker brown looks very luxurious too.
Taking a different approach is the Concept X-Class powerful adventurer. It looks much more aggressive mainly because of the huge heavy duty tires, chrome tow hook at the front, a more aggressively styled front grille and black accents complementing the ‘Lemonax’ metallic paint finish. Toughness, durability and off-road capability are at the heart of the powerful adventurer.
The more adventurous version of the X-Class stands much higher on its feet too, 1.90 meters to be precise. The rear of the truck too looks very heavy duty, while proportions remain the same. The stylish LED lighting is replaced by a rough looking grated structure with more realistic taillights on both sides of it. Carbon fiber accents further underscore the X-Class’ dynamic off-road capabilities, a trend that continues on the interior design.
Carbon fiber inserts, metallic brushed surfaces and a bold color scheme make up the car’s rather progressive looking interior. The Lemonax color is also brought back into the interior color palette in the form of contrasting stitching and leather in both the dashboard and doors.
While more details about the X-Class’ power plant are yet to be revealed, Mercedes-Benz ensures that customers will be able to choose from different equipment scopes to customize the exterior and interior of the vehicle. A special range of accessories will be developed too, think of bed covers and various styling elements. Many elements of already existing cars such as the C-Class and V-Class will also be implemented in the new X-Class. The infotainment screen in the middle of the dash is something that you may have recognized already.
More practical information reveals that the powerful drive system and tough ladder-type frame will make a payload of more than 1.1 tonnes and a towing capacity of up to 3.5 tonnes possible. Also expect a host of driver safety and assistance systems currently available in the Mercedes-Benz model range. Finally ride comfort in assured through a specially constructed suspension with wide axles, a five-link rear axle with coil springs, and a precisely calibrated spring/damper setup.
As mentioned before, production of the X-Class will commence in cooperation with both Renault and Nissan, as the car’s platform is based on that of the Nissan Navara. With that being said, the new X-Class will be produced at Nissan’s Barcelona plant in Spain starting in 2017. The Latin-American market will have to wait a little while longer, as the first X-Class’ will roll off the Renault factory assembly line in Cordoba, Argentina in 2018.