The first ever Mercedes-Benz ute, the 2018 Mercedes-Benz X-Class, has been revealed internationally overnight in South Africa ahead of its Australian release next year. In a move that bats aside the existence of the Volkswagen Amarok, Mercedes claims the X-Class is “the first pick-up from a premium manufacturer.”
The X-Class sits on the underpinnings from the Nissan Navara, and is the result of a technical partnership between the Mercedes-Benz and Nissan. The German brand is claiming a number of firsts for ute segment, specifically relating to safety, comfort and customisation.
In a move that follows the positioning of other utes as both workhorse and lifestyle vehicles, the X-Class will be available in three distinct variants. There will be a rough-and-ready X-Class Pure offering at the bottom of the range; a mid-point X-Class Progressive and an Amarok Ultimate-rivalling X-Class Power at the top of the range featuring with plenty of chrome trim.
Managing Director Mercedes-Benz Vans Australia and New Zealand, Diane Tarr, said, “the high level of interest and anticipation in the lead up to revealing the new X-Class has been a reflection of just how ingrained dual cab utes are in both the Australian and New Zealand culture. The fact is we love utes and we are showing a desire to incorporate this type of vehicle into our lives in more ways than we did in the past. Not just for work, but also increasingly for private use.
“The new X-Class finds the perfect balance between the stylish design expected of a Mercedes-Benz and the uncompromising robustness and functionality demanded of the category. As a result, with the X-Class, we can effectively provide a solution for trade and fleet customers, and we will find out just how far this category can evolve for private customers who need the vehicle to support their lifestyle.”
According to Tarr, the 2018 Mercedes-Benz X-Class “resolves apparent contradictions: modern design and uncompromising robustness, impressive off-road capability and a high level of driving dynamics, stylish comfort and great functionality.”
Inside the new Mercedes X-Class
Mercedes-Benz are claiming that the X-Class offers the widest range of available trims in the ute segment, which “elevates comfort and quality feel to a new level within the segment for mid-size pickups” according to Mercedes.
Choose an X-Class Power, and three interior trim options are available: a matte black pixel, an aluminium effect and a brown matte woodgrain effect. The upper section of the cockpit is available with Artico man-made leather in either black or brown to further emphasise a higher-quality feel. The X-Class Power is equipped with Mercedes’ Artico man-made leather on the seats, with real leather in black or brown available optionally. For the first time in the segment, the headliner is available in either grey or black.
The X-Class also offers more modern infotainment systems than most competitors, with the freestanding tablet look from other Mercedes products carried over. The largest available screen is 8.4-inches, and includes a satellite navigation and a control touch pad on the centre console to control it.
Pure and Progressive models get a more basic CD20 system, with less functionality and a smaller screen. A 5.4-inch screen is also nestled in between the dials, providing trip computer information for the driver. Six-way power adjustable front seats with two-way electric lumbar adjustment is available for the X-Class Power, with other seats in the range featuring six-way manual adjustment.
X-Class engines and transmissions: X200d, X250d, X350d
The X-Class will arrive with four different engine choices – three diesel and one petrol. An entry level X200 2.4-litre petrol with 122kW/238Nm won’t be on the cards for Australia – it will be a rear-driven, left-hand-drive offering only, for select markets like North Africa.
The Australian range will instead open with an adapted version of Nissan’s 2.3-litre four-cylinder diesel. This engine will be available in single turbo form, badged X200d and producing 120kW of power and 403Nm of power, or a twin-turbo making 140kW of power and 450Nm of torque. These engines will be available in Australia from early 2018.
But the best engine will arrive later, in mid-2018. The X350d will use one of Mercedes’ own engines – a 3.0-litre single turbo V6 diesel producing 190kW of power, and 550Nm of torque. That’s equal torque to Volkswagen’s Amarok V6, but about 15% more power.
Transmissions on offer include a six-speed manual, a seven-speed automatic on the two Nissan-derived diesels, as well as Mercedes’ own 7G-TRONIC seven-speed automatic on the X350d. Both rear- and all-wheel drive will be offered.
Mercedes is also claiming that the X-Class offers the segment’s first switchable driving modes, with five available – Comfort, Eco, Sport, Manual and Offroad. The driving modes on offer change the X-Class’ throttle, transmission, engine characteristics and the eco stop/start mode.
Can you use the X-Class as a proper ute
More than just a posh Navara, Mercedes is using its commercial vehicle heritage and talking up the X-Class as a real workhorse that can handle what businesses around the world throw at it.
Like the Navara on which it’s based, the X-Class consists of a ladder-type frame, rear multi-link solid axle, front independent wheel suspension and coil springs on both axles. A payload of 1.1 tonnes is able to be carried, “enough to transport 17 full 50-litre barrels of beer in the cargo area” according to Mercedes – an interesting anecdote.
A maximum braked tow rating of 3,500kg places the X-Class at the top of the ute class with competitors such as the Ford Ranger and Mazda BT-50 twins, Volkswagen Amarok and even the Nissan Navara.
The X-Class is able to load a European-sized pallet between its wheel arches, and every X-Class features LED lighting for the tray and the car can be ordered without a rear bumper, allowing a full 180-degree range of motion for the tailgate. Its 1,560mm tray width and 1,587mm tray length means that Australian pallets also fit in the X-Class’ tray.
Mercedes is also talking up the X-Class’ off-road ability, with two different ride heights available: 200mm and 220mm that Australia will receive as standard. In addition to that, the X-Class offers 600mm of wading depth capability, a 30.1-degree approach angle and 25.9 degree departure angle, a 22-degree ramp-over angle, as well as a 49-degree maximum tilt angle.
Available adaptive safety equipment
Mercedes are proud to have included available active safety equipment on the X-Class, an area where most competitors are severely lacking. Seven airbags, a tyre pressure monitoring system, AEB, lane keep assist, traffic sign assist, cruise control, automatic emergency calling in the event of an accident and LED headlights that are claimed to offer the brightest level of light in the segment are all available.
Even vented rear disc brakes are available in the X-Class, a safety oddity in the ute segment. In addition to that, a 360 degree parking camera and front and rear parking sensors are also available to aide parking. Only the Ford Ranger currently offers any sort of active safety equipment in the ute segment in Australia, with even the Nissan Navara on which the X-Class is based not offering anything of the sort.
Customisation and accessories
Mercedes-benz claims that the widest range of accessories they’ve ever developed is available on the X-Class. Available items include an optional Style Package, which includes side running boards and an electrically-opening rear window, as well as styling bars, bed liners, a bed divider system, load-securing rails in the floor, side bars, both soft and hard tonneau covers, a roll cover and even a range of canopies for the tray.
Given the amount of available aftermarket accessories for Australian-spec utes, it’s not too hard to imagine a plethora of available items being developed for the X-Class by third-party suppliers by the time the car lands.
X-Class Australian release date and details
Australian X-Class models will come from Nissan’s factory in Spain, and will arrive early in 2018. Initially only the 120kW and 140kW diesel engines will be available, with the 190kW engine arriving halfway through 2018. Following the international model lineup, three X-Class models will be available in Australia: the entry-level Pure for workhorse duties, mid-spec Progressive aimed at tradies that will put their X-Class into weekend and family use and the high-end Power, which is aimed more at those with an active lifestyle.