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Future models - Mercedes-Benz - X-Class - X350d

V6 diesel flagship to dominate Mercedes X-Class sales

X-treme: Benz says there will be no supply constraints when the X-Class X350d (X250d shown) touches down next year.

Luxury performance flagship expected to be Mercedes-Benz X-Class range best-seller

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Mercedes-Benz logo23 Oct 2017

By BYRON MATHIOUDAKIS in CHILE

MERCEDES-BENZ is counting on the upcoming V6 versions of the X-Class pick-up to be some of the best-sellers in the range, with the company believing that a combination of performance, driveability, refinement and safety will put clear sky between it and top-line rivals such as the Ford Ranger Wildtrak and Volkswagen Amarok Ultimate.

Due for release in Australia about three months after the four-cylinder turbo-diesel range lobs next April, the X350d will be made available in the mid-spec Progressive and flagship Power specification grades and will be the only variants to use a Mercedes-designed and produced engine, transmission and four-wheel-drive system, to add further cache to the Spanish-built, Nissan Navara-based model.

While pricing will not be communicated until closer to launch, expect the X-Class flagship to be within range of the Amarok Ultimate V6 TDI 4Motion, which kicks off from $67,990 plus on-road costsHowever, with the full suite of driver-assist technologies such as autonomous emergency braking (AEB), adaptive cruise control, lane-keep assist and automatic parking, that could blow out beyond $80,000 once on-roads are factored in.

Speaking to GoAuto at the international first drive of the one-tonner in Chile last week, Mercedes-Benz Vans Australia PR and corporate communications manager, Blake Vincent, revealed that the X350d is expected to usher in fresh buyers to the brand as well as SUV and crossover customers who would not normally consider a utility-based vehicle.

“We think the sales mix will be strongest in the Power grade, with a slightly higher skew to the V6 diesel,” he said. “Power will probably be the best-seller, with the Progressive close behind.

“That (sort of volume mix) is in line with the other models in the Mercedes-Benz passenger and SUV ranges… and it will help drive new people to the brand. That’s why we have a very strong line-up with strong differentiation between the variants to cater for different requirements.”

Mercedes hopes that X350d sales will endure beyond the initial rush of interest in the X-Class, to help maintain a richer sales mix throughout the life of the series.

“Overall (I think) it will settle into a pretty even mix with the four-cylinder version,” Mr Vincent said.

With sales of 4x4 pick-up trucks up more than 10 per cent year-to-date making it the third largest segment by overall behind small cars and medium SUVs, Australia has been prioritised by Benz, meaning that there should not be the type of long delays experienced when the popular Ranger Wildtrak was released more than five years ago.

“There won’t be supply constraints,” Mr Vincent said. “Because we are one of the core markets for X-Class, a lot of work has gone into what our volume will be… and as a result, Australia and NZ have been given a lot of focus.”

As reported back at the X-Class global unveiling in Cape Town in July, the V6 diesel is the in-house 3.0-litre unit delivering 190kW of power and 550Nm of torque via Mercedes’ 7G-tronic seven-speed automatic with paddle shifters.

Torque will be channelled to both axles simultaneously via the 4Matic permanent all-wheel-drive system rather than the Nissan-designed selectable part-time set-up, with fixed drive distribution of 40 to 60 per cent as well as a three AWD modes – 4MAT for highway, 4H for improved off-road traction and 4L low-range with a selectable reduction gear of 1:2.9 and limited top speed of 80km/h.

Further X350d features include fuel-saving idle-stop, as well as the company’s Dynamic Select drive mode offering Comfort, Eco, Sport, Manual and Offroad settings for the engine and gearbox software.

Two areas where the V6 diesel will trail the four-cylinder equivalents will be in payload (918-977kg versus 998-1092kg) and kerb weight, although it is unknown how much heavier the X350d will be compared to the X250d 4Matic’s 2234kg.

Other elements of differentiation between the two Mercedes pick-ups include beefed-up ladder-frame components to deal with the V6 diesel’s extra torque, heavier-duty springs, additional sound-deadening material and a remapping of the stability and traction control systems.

While journalists were not allowed to drive the X350d prototype present at the launch in Chile, a blast up the side of a mountain riding as passenger highlighted four key points.

Firstly, the two extra cylinders provide more useful muscle for exceptional acceleration and response the X’s control and composure at speed through tight turns is remarkable for this size and weight of pick-up refinement levels are even higher than those of the impressive four-cylinder variants, particularly at higher engine revs and the mechanical noise is far more in keeping with the big Benz badge up front.

The Germans have stated time and again that the X-Class is the Mercedes-Benz of pick-up trucks. Even from the passenger seat, that seems truest in the X350d 4Matic prototype.

Come July next year, Ford and Volkswagen’s dream run might be about to turn into a nightmare.

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