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Future models - Mercedes-Benz - X-Class

Mercedes considers deposits for unseen X-Class

Hot property: Mercedes’ Nissan Navara-based ute may be sold out before it even gets to Australia.

It hasn’t been seen yet, but Mercedes-Benz may seek holding deposit for X-Class ute

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Mercedes-Benz logo7 Feb 2017

By TIM ROBSON

MERCEDES-BENZ Australia/Pacific management is considering whether to follow in the footsteps of its UK colleagues, who have announced that they will require a refundable 1000 ($A1624) deposit to secure a place on the list for the as-yet unseen X-Class pick-up.

The X-Class has only ever been seen in concept form, with two versions displayed at an event in Sweden last year.

Based on a modified version of Nissan’s newest Navara platform, the X-Class is garnering a host of inquiries from Australian customers, according to Mercedes-Benz Australia/Pacific senior manager public relations, product and corporate communications David McCarthy.

“We'll be looking at doing something later this year in terms of providing an easier vehicle for people to register their interest,” Mr McCarthy confirmed to GoAuto at the recent Bathurst 12 Hour endurance race.

“We have a website where people can advise their details, and dealers are currently taking details. Expressions of interest are really, really high. We’re talking thousands and thousands.”

The X-Class may make an appearance on the show circuit this year, potentially at the Frankfurt motor show in September, with an on-sale date yet to be confirmed.

“We’re still looking next year,” said Mr McCarthy. “The date’s a bit moveable at the moment the earlier the better for us. Interest is off the dial.”

Collaboration between Nissan and Mercedes-Benz on the future pick-up began at the design stage of the current D23 Navara pick-up, which launched in 2015.

In-metal changes to the body in white, along with additional space in the cabin and a wider track, were incorporated before Nissan production kicked off.

Mr McCarthy suggested that there was a possibility that the X-Class could be a technical sell-out before the first car lands in Australia.

“Look, if every single one of those expressions of interest bought a car, we’re not going to be able to supply,” he said. “We’ve seen the rise in popularity of dual cabs, and it's only going to grow. The level of interest is extraordinary.”

Local specifications and pricing for the X-Class are yet to be locked down, with potential customers coming from both the private and corporate sector.

“Interest is coming from across the board,” Mr McCarthy said. “There’s obviously going to be leisure use, there’s going to be be work use, and people that are going to have it as their everyday vehicle.”

Mr McCarthy admitted the brand is moving into unfamiliar territory with the pick-up, but pointed to the recently launched G-Professional series as a sign of Mercedes’ commitment to the commercial sector.

“It’s a part of the market we haven’t been in, but we see that market growing, just as we’ve seen with the G Professional,” he said. “Fleet and government interest in that vehicle’s pretty strong. We wanted an extra airbag (for the G Professional), we wanted ESP, and we were quite definite about that. So the factory had to develop that.”

The German giant is also aiming for a five-star crash safety rating for the X-Class, which would help put it in the frame for commercial customers.

“That’s the goal. I don’t have any info on it at the moment but I believe that’ll be the goal,” he said.

Accessorising styleside pick-ups is a big business in Australia, and Mercedes-Benz is planning to offer its own line of add-ons when the X-Class launches, sourced both locally and overseas.

“We understand that our after sales area already are working on that,” he said.

“Some of it will be specific to Australia, but it’s a bit early yet.

“We’re doing our research on the vehicle. What we want to do is give people the option to personalise the vehicle and also give it a better focus on what they need to do with it. It’s a work in progress.”

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