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Future models - Mercedes-Benz - X-Class

Mercedes-Benz X-Class facelift set for 2020

Just for starters: The X-Class will be one of the most advanced models in its segment when it arrives here early next year, but Mercedes engineers are already working on further improvements for the ute’s first upgrade due in 2020.

Electric power steering, other efficiency improvements set for Merc X-Class update

Mercedes-Benz logo25 Oct 2017

By BYRON MATHIOUDAKIS

ALTHOUGH not yet even launched in Australia, the Mercedes-Benz X-Class is set to undergo a series of upgrades as well as a facelift within the next three years, ushering in further improvements in driveability, efficiency, refinement and safety.

Among the expected innovations for the 2020 X-Class is a new electric power-assisted steering (EPAS) system to replace the current hydraulic set-up, matching higher-line Ford Ranger models as well as bringing with it the welcome inclusion of a reach-adjustable steering column.

Other advances should include a concerted weight-loss regime and the introduction of electrification, likely in conjunction with a petrol engine as part of a series-parallel hybrid system to reduce fuel consumption and emissions as well as the heavy reliance on diesel powertrains.

Furthermore, the introduction of semi-autonomous driving technologies moving forward after that is in the pipeline for the one-tonne truck.

A Mercedes-Benz source also told GoAuto at the international first drive of the X-Class in Chile last week that limited budget, engineering and timing resources ruled out the inclusion of items such as EPAS when there was so much other work required on the Nissan D23 Navara base to ensure the X-Class would look, feel and behave like a bona fide Mercedes model.

“We’re already looking at electric power steering for the X-Class,” our source said, adding that the current hydraulic set-up simply does not have the scope of tuneability to match the Australian-engineered Ranger in terms of low-speed manoeuvrability and higher-speed feel and feedback.

“Many more things are possible technology-wise in the future … like in terms of electrification and autonomous tech … (but) we had a long list of other work that was more important to finish in the first instance.”

Our source also said that Daimler was reluctant to increase its investment in the program given it is a new market entrant and therefore an untested and unknown entity.

“Nobody is exactly sure how this will really even perform in the market,” he said. “So let’s wait and see how it goes before we move on to investing more into the truck.”

However, according to Mercedes-Benz head of lobal communications (commercial vehicles) Florian Martens, Daimler would never enter a new segment without the intention of making its investment work.

“There’s no way we would only do a one-off series,” he said. “It just isn’t the Mercedes-Benz way. If we enter a segment with a new model we intend to stay in it and evolve the vehicle into future-generation models.”

It is not yet known whether Mercedes will share these future technologies with Nissan and Renault for their closely related Navara and Alaskan trucks respectively – and the next Mitsubishi Triton might also be based on the same platform – though it is probable that the partnership in this segment will continue.

The new W470 X-Class is now on sale in Germany and other parts of Europe, with Australia to follow with the four-cylinder turbo-diesel versions first from April next year, followed by the V6 diesel flagship early in the second half of 2018.

All X-Class variants will be sourced out of Nissan’s Barcelona factory in Spain for this market. The factory also builds the Navara (for Europe) and Alaskan, which is still to be confirmed for Australia but is anticipated either late next year or early in 2019.

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