Closing ‘one of the last gaps’ in its vehicle portfolio, the German carmaker braves new territory with a luxury-laden midsize truck.
Certainly inspired by the rousing success of the burly Volkswagen Amarok, Mercedes-Benz today pulled the wraps off a midsize luxury pickup of its own. On a stage at the Artipelag art museum in Stockholm, Sweden, the Concept X-Class arrived in two forms: a pearly white stylish explorer and a pea-green powerful adventurer. “With the Mercedes-Benz pickup,” said Daimler CEO Dieter Zetsche, “we will close one of the last gaps in our portfolio.
“Technically, the X-Class isn’t Mercedes’ first pickup; the company’s Argentine arm experimented with two- and four-door production pickups back in the 1970s. The 220D “La Pick-up” more closely resembled a funeral flower car or a parts runner for a race team than a traditional pickup, but it earned a passionate following. “I guess it wasn’t exactly the toughest pickup ever from a technological point of view, ” said Zetsche, “and it wasn’t a great success from an economic point of view, either. But it grew a huge fan base.”
From a style standpoint, the powerful adventurer is arguabily the more successful of the two X-Class versions, with winches fore and aft, ginormous tyres and a little fire extinquisher on the dashboard. The truck is believably capable and handsome in an unsurprising way; the adventure-ready model looks quite a bit like the modified Toyota Hilux the former Top Gear boys drove to the North Pole back in 2009 (minus the Bumper Dumper).
All X-Class trucks will feature a stout ladder-frame structure, torque-rich V6 engines and permanent all-wheel drive. The debut event was heavy on adjectives, light on numbers, but Mercedes says the truck will be sufficently muscular to haul four cubic metres of firewood and tow a sailboat at the same time. Because, you know, outdoors. Naturally, the X-Class will carry the usual array of Mercedes safety and luxury touches.
A production version of the X-Class arrives at the end of 2017. In addition to Europe, Mercedes plans to drop the truck into showrooms in Argentina, Brazil, South Africa, Australia and New Zealand. The US is not on the list. An AMG version is inevitable; a Maybach version is improbable (but fun to imagine).