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Mercedes-AMG X-Class ruled out

X off: X-Class AMG not happening despite lots of interest from potential Aussie buyers.

No plans for go-fast X-Class but AMG boss talks hybrid strategy and future EV sound

Mercedes-AMG logo2 Apr 2018

By TIM NICHOLSON in NEW YORK

MERCEDES-AMG chief executive Tobias Moers has officially ruled out a high-performance AMG version of the forthcoming Mercedes-Benz X-Class pick-up.

When asked by GoAuto if an X-Class AMG was off the table, Mr Moers simply said: “Unfortunately, for you guys.”

Mercedes’ Australian arm has reported significant consumer interest in a performance-focused version of its Nissan Navara-based X-Class, although the 190kW/550Nm V6 turbo-diesel version will still place it at the top end of the market alongside rivals such as the Volkswagen Amarok V6 and Ford’s Ranger Raptor.

Mr Moers said he would need to involve more than just Daimler chairman Dieter Zetsche and head of Mercedes-Benz Vans Volker Mornhinweg in any discussions about an AMG X-Class, but he did not refer to Nissan by name.

“There is another party which would be at the party as well,” he said. “Not just Volker and me. This does not work with our way to engineer cars.

“We have very substantial support out of our production people at Mercedes – Marcus Schafer and his team. They understand now a lot about how we work, why we work in that way, why they have to maintain flexibility. But with the party involved, X-Class, that could be a little bit complicated.”

As well as VW and Ford, various other manufacturers have climbed aboard the sports-oriented one-tonne ute bandwagon, including Holden, which is using HSV to produce its Colorado SportsCat, and Toyota, which has developed new Rugged and Rugged X variants.

Nissan is also now studying the potential of creating a higher-performance version of the Navara.

Meanwhile, Mr Moers also ruled out developing another standalone AMG model alongside the current GT two- and four-door sportscars, stating that the company only has the capacity to produce one model.

“That capacity is just able to run one platform. That’s it. The body-in-white department is four teams, which sounds big but that department is able to run just one platform. And this is really efficient,” he said.

In terms of electrification, Mr Moers said AMG has worked closely with its Formula One team on elements of its new powertrains, specifically for the Project One hypercar, but added that some of the technology and ideas would flow down to future electrified AMGs.

“Regarding the powertrain, yes, this is an absolute open exchange always with these people and Project One is a booster for doing so. On powertrain we work together with these people,” he said.

“Turbocharged systems for the future, electrified turbochargers is a topic for us. You can expect some carryover out of the Project One. That’s going to happen. Not the parts, which are sometimes more expensive than the whole car.

“But technology … battery technology. The F1 battery is really specific, but what we are doing for our hybridisation strategy, we used the technology and ideas out of that.”

Mr Moers also discussed the progress AMG is making on its artificial EV sound for future electric models. He has previously confirmed that the company has worked with rock band Linkin Park as well as games specialists and film sound effects experts in developing the right sound.

“We tried to get as much inspiration and influence that we can get, so the team are working on that,” he said. “They are on fire. Just recently they showed me the approach now of where we are, and the discussion about this way or that way.

“It gives us a lot of opportunities. Nothing is done, but time-wise it is perfect to start early and get some inspiration. It is a very creative process.”

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