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Future models - Mercedes-Benz - X-Class

Mercedes-Benz says no to X-Class single-cab

X appeal: Base versions of the X-Class pick-up will be made available when the production version arrives in 2018.

Dual-cab only for Benz’s X-Class, but there will be more affordable base variants

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Mercedes-Benz logo26 Oct 2016

By TIM NICHOLSON in STOCKHOLM

MERCEDES-BENZ has no plans to build a single-cab version of its forthcoming X-Class one-tonne utility – set to launch in Australia in 2018 – and will steer away from promoting it as a rugged workhorse for tradespeople or off-road enthusiasts.

While private buyers looking for a ‘lifestyle’ vehicle are the prime audience, the German prestige manufacturer has revealed that the X-Class – shown in near-production concept form in Sweden overnight – will be offered in various model grades, including entry-level variants that should see it align with higher-end versions of volume-selling mainstream rivals such as the Toyota HiLux, Ford Ranger, Volkswagen Amarok and the Nissan Navara on which it is based.

Speaking with Australian journalists at the unveiling in Stockholm, head of Mercedes-Benz Vans Volker Mornhinweg said the shift in the market from offering durable workhorses to focusing on more car-like attributes had meant there was little point in offering a single-cab body style.

“In the past the pick-up trucks were seen really as a workhorse – rough and tough off-road challengers,” he said.

“As we saw in research, also in Australia for example, there is a move in the direction for a modern lifestyle private-use product.

“And that opens up for us now the opportunity. We don’t want to just step into the segment, we want to expand it (with) that modern lifestyle vehicle.

Mercedes-Benz can do it when it comes to comfort, safety, connectivity, all these things you find in passenger cars.”

The X-Class was presented in two luxurious concept themes this week, however Mr Mornhinweg confirmed a broad range of trim levels would be offered in the marketplace.

“For sure, we will have lines within our portfolio. There will be maybe more entry-level (variants), but also the high-end versions,” he said.

“But it will be at a reasonable price and quite attractive in that pick-up segment.”

Head of global marketing for Mercedes-Benz Vans Marion Friese reiterated that the X-Class would not be priced well above its competitors in the ultra-competitive segment.

“You can imagine we would like to have competitive pricing,” she said. “We are the new kid on the block, we need to conquer, so we will have competitive pricing for the vehicle we are offering.”

Mr Mornhinweg announced that all variants would be rolled out at the same time.

As previously reported, the Australian-spec versions will be sourced from a Renault-Nissan Alliance factory in Barcelona, Spain, while an expansion of production to Thailand – where Nissan Australia sources its popular Navara – has been ruled out for now.

In terms of powertrains, Mercedes has confirmed that two Nissan-Renault four-cylinder engines – one diesel and one petrol – will be offered, helping position it among mainstream rivals.

Details for these remain under wraps, although a manual transmission and 4x2 driveline are confirmed as being part of the mix.

At the top end, a Mercedes-sourced V6 turbo-diesel with the 4Matic permanent four-wheel-drive system will be used.

While Mercedes-Benz passenger vehicles continue to shift to electrification, Daimler chairman and head of Mercedes-Benz Cars Dieter Zetsche this week ruled out a plug-in hybrid version of the X-Class.

“Pick-up is obviously on the heavy side of the range of cars,” he said.

“This combo of weight and long range is not the perfect starting point for electrification.”

The two concepts shown in Sweden presented a luxurious variant known as the ‘Stylish Explorer’ and a far more rugged and wild-looking example dubbed ‘Powerful Adventurer’.

There will, however, not be two dramatically different versions when the production model starts to roll out late next year. GoAuto understands that the ‘Stylish Explorer’ is closer to the mark in terms of the final version.

That said, Mr Mornhinweg told GoAuto that the final design of the production models would differ slightly from the sleek concepts.

“Especially in the interior, it’s quite close (to production). The exterior, some sections are changed. But overall, the cabin is more or less there,” he said.

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GoAutoNews is Australia’s number one automotive industry journal covering the latest news, future and new model releases, market trends, industry personnel movements, and international events.