Mercedes-Benz probably isn’t the first name you think of when it comes to pickup trucks, but the company is previewing its new Mercedes-Benz X-Class with a pair of concepts today. Set to offer a luxury twist on the double-cab pickup form factor from 2017, the new model is being created in collaboration with Renault-Nissan. Indeed, the X-Class will be made at that alliance’s production lines in Spain and Argentina.
Final designs for the production X-Class are yet to be revealed, but we have a solid idea of what the pickup will look like thanks to today’s dual concepts. According to Mercedes, the two vehicles represent different halves of the pickup’s character. On the one hand, it’s a load-hauling workhorse, but the German automaker also wants it to be a family vehicle that’s smart enough to go to business meetings in.
So, the Concept X-CLASS stylish explorer – the white version – is Mercedes-Benz’s take on urban acceptability. That means a bigger version of the automaker’s distinctive grille, together with a bulging “powerdome” on the hood and headlights that flow back into the bodywork. Width is emphasized by swollen wheel arches.
They also make room for whopping 22-inch light-alloy wheels. Although the final pickup might not sport such oversized rubber, it will more than likely get the shortened front overhang, extended rear overhang, and the two side lines that give the vehicle a more aggressive look. Mercedes has thrown some chrome on the back too, along with an LED light strip that runs the width of the tailgate.
That’s not shared by the Concept X-CLASS powerful adventurer, however. Instead it has huge, 35 x 11.50 wheels and larger ground clearance, standing 1.9 meters high. Extra cladding and front and rear underride guards, together with matte carbon wheel arches, emphasize the off-road credentials, while the electric front winch and metal rear hook give an even more obvious nod to its ambitions.
Interior design differs by concept, too. The stylish explorer has brown and white nubuck leather, open-pore smoked oak, and brushed and polished aluminum, while the powerful adventurer gets matte carbon, glossy black nappa leather, and carbon-style black embossed leather on the dash. Bigger side bolsters to its seats increase support in uneven terrain.
Otherwise, both share round air vents, a central display atop the dash, and Mercedes’ multifunction touchpad for navigation. That accepts gestures as well as fingertip-sketched letters and numbers. There’s also a physical handbrake, mind, which traditional pickup buyers expect.
Integrated cellular connectivity will be an option, along with WiFi hotspot functionality. Owners will be able to remotely program the navigation, as well as check the X-Class’ location and fuel status. Accident services and maintenance will also be accessible from the in-car systems.
As for engines, so far we only know the top-spec option. That’ll be a V6 diesel with 4MATIC permanent all-wheel drive. The latter brings together an electronic traction system, a transfer case with reduction gear, and two differential locks. If necessary, the the rear diff and the inter-axle diff can be locked for more extreme inclines and other obstacles, Mercedes says.
It’s all built on a ladder-type frame, and the X-Class is expected to have a payload capacity of more than 1.1 ton (2,200 pounds) and a towing capacity of up to 3.5 tons (7,000 pounds). The suspension relies on wide axels and a five-link rear axle with coil springs, with Mercedes insisting ride comfort will be in line with expectations of owners of its sedans. There’ll be a variety of driver-assistance system options too, like adaptive cruise control.
Frankly, it’s not quite what you’d expect to bear the three-pointed star, but Mercedes argues that it’s an ideal next segment to expand into. They might well be right, too, given that automakers like Tesla are also looking at pickups for future models.
Unfortunately for those in pickup-hungry North America, that’s not one of Mercedes’ target markets, at least initially. The company says that it’s prioritizing Argentina, Brazil, South Africa, Australia with New Zealand, and Europe at first. Pricing will be announced closer to the final production model being revealed and sales kicking off sometime next year.