Mercedes-Benz has turned the Concept X-Class it first revealed in late 2016 into reality with the launch of a production version of the brand’s first pickup truck.
As part of its announcement, Benz says the X-Class will be the first pickup from a premium manufacturer, but that’s a dubious claim: Lincoln was there first, with its Blackwood of 2002 and 2003, and then the Mark LT. Surprisingly, neither model did particularly well in the United States, but the truck found a following in Mexico.
Nor can Mercedes claim to be the first German manufacturer to do a pickup, because VW’s Amarok owns that title.
In fact, even with its formidable engineering history, Mercedes-Benz can’t even say it developed the X-Class from the ground up: this truck is the result of a tie-up with Nissan that saw Benz use the underpinnings from the latest Nissan Navarra pickup, a newer version of a compact truck we in North America know as the Frontier.
That the X-Class is not a full-size truck by North American standards is no accident: Mercedes said it developed the truck “with the changing requirements of the international pickup markets in mind.”
But North America is not the only place where pickups have become lifestyle vehicles as much as workhorses, and Benz says that consideration led it to develop three distinct X-Class variants to suit differing needs and wants.
The range will start with the basic Pure model, designed for rugged, functional use; the Progressive will add “extra styling and comfort functions” to create a still-rugged vehicle comfortable and prestigious enough for private use; and the Power variant is unabashedly aimed at lifestyle owners who will primarily use their trucks in urban environments and for sports and leisure activities.
Each trim will get different front and rear end treatments to differentiate them, along with 17-, 18-, and 19-inch wheel designs. The rear bumper will come with an integrated step, but buyers will be able to order their X-Class without a rear bumper to allow for a tailgate that opens 180 degrees.
Engine choices include an entry-level gas four-cylinder (165 hp) in the X 200, and diesel four-bangers (163 and 190 hp) in the X 220d and 250d, while a diesel V6 will top the range with its 258 hp. X-Class buyers will be able to get both manual and automatic transmissions, and a choice of rear- or four-wheel drive.
The X-Class rides on a wheelbase a bit shorter than a Chevrolet Colorado, but the Benz body is a touch wider than that North American mid-sizer. Mercedes claims a maximum payload of 1,100 kg, and 3,500 kg in towing capacity.
Mercedes-Benz says the X-Class will reach European dealerships in November 2017, followed by South Africa, Australia and New Zealand in early 2018 and Argentina and Brazil at the beginning of 2019.