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No Daimler V6 for Nissan Navara: Mercedes

Muscle flex: Mercedes says Nissan “will not ever get the V6” used in X-Class, which is one of the key points of difference between the German brand’s first ute and the other members of the global pick-up partnership – Navara and Renault’s Alaskan.

Mercedes rules out X-Class V6 for related Navara as Nissan works on sports ute plan

Mercedes-Benz logo12 Apr 2018

By TERRY MARTIN

NISSAN will not be granted access to Mercedes-Benz’s V6 diesel engine to produce a higher-performance version of the Navara one-tonne utility – as seen on the all-new Navara-based X-Class – according to a senior Mercedes executive.

As GoAuto reported in February, Nissan Motor Corporation’s global light-commercial vehicles division is currently studying the potential for a sports version of the Navara that would take on the likes of Ford’s new Ranger Raptor, with the German manufacturer’s 3.0-litre V6 turbo-diesel under consideration.

However, Mercedes-Benz Vans Australia/New Zealand X-Class product manager Scott Williams stated categorically at the X-Class launch in Tasmania this week that Mercedes would not hand over one of the key points of difference between the German prestige brand’s first-ever ute and the related Navara.

“They will not ever get the V6,” Mr Williams told GoAuto.

Mr Williams said the global pick-up partnership – which also includes Renault’s forthcoming Alaskan – allowed for crossflows in technology, but not the V6 powertrain and associated hardware.

He also pointed to the potentially prohibitive costs involved for Nissan in drawing on advanced systems developed by Mercedes, as the Japanese manufacturer has already found with its Infiniti brand reconsidering whether to use Daimler’s MFA small-car platform – as agreed – or look in-house to save money and capitalise on efficiencies.

“The technology has been shared but actually instigating it at a price point that Infiniti wants to be, or Nissan wants to be, is not always what they say it should be, if you know what I mean,” Mr Williams said.

“It’s fine to want it, then to put it in and say, ‘Sorry guys, we’ve got to charge X for it, I didn’t realise that, sorry, I’ll give it back to you...”

Mercedes has gone to great lengths to dispel any suggestions that the X-Class is simply a rebadged Navara, pointing to significant work undertaken in areas such as styling, cabin construction and technology to create a higher-class ute that meets its customers’ expectations.

“This is no badge-engineered Navara like the Renault Alaskan is, for example,” Mr Williams said.

“This vehicle is wider by 50mm – that’s an inch on each side – and the tracks are 70mm wider. So what does that mean? It effectively means every panel has to be different to match, from the front, side, the glass areas – all unique to X-Class.”

In terms of chassis engineering, he added: “The result is chalk and cheese that’s the extent of the engineering that’s gone into our version of the Nissan chassis, without going into too much detail.

“You would think all those little parts wouldn’t add up to such a big difference, but it does. All that engineering work, which is not easy to see from point blank, does add up to quite a big difference.”

Even in areas where the two vehicles have similar technology, Mr Williams said the X-Class typically went further, citing the inclusion of pedestrian detection on its autonomous emergency braking (AEB) system – AEB being available on Navara overseas but not yet in Australia – as well as active intervention on lane-departure warning for the forthcoming six-cylinder version.

The more advanced Distronic driver-assist technology, which brings features such as adaptive cruise control, is not yet available on X-Class.

Mr Williams said the company prioritised the standard fitment of AEB across the range – a first in this class, which has enabled X-Class to receive a maximum five-star safety rating under ANCAP’s tougher independent crash-test regime – over Distronic from launch.

“Obviously, at this stage it could go two ways – Distronic or the AEB – (and) we chose the AEB,” he said. “That’s not to say we won’t go Distronic in the future.

“We put it together and what we have is the best overall five-star rating in the segment, something no one else has got.

“We made a conscious decision to get the right level of technology to achieve what the public wants from that SUV side of things – five-star NCAP, current rating, (tested) 2017. Distronic (is more along the lines that it) would be nice to have.”

Mercedes-Benz Vans Aust/NZ managing director Diane Tarr also emphasised that the Nissan links with X-Class was not expected to be an issue for the company, particularly once customers had the opportunity to drive the vehicle.

“This isn’t a rebadge – it’s a true Mercedes-Benz vehicle. It’s gone into the heart and soul of a Mercedes-Benz and what we expect from Mercedes-Benz,” she told GoAuto.

“At the end of the day, we are putting a Mercedes-Benz badge on it. That means a hell of a lot in terms of expectations when you think about safety, comfort, rideability, flexibility, style … everything that one would expect from Mercedes-Benz.

“We have to live up to that – and this vehicle does.”

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