Mercedes has spent the last few years valiantly plugging every car niche possible. But there’s one rather gaping hole in its portfolio: a one-ton pickup.
It’s a highly-lucrative market, especially in places like Latin America, South Africa and Australia. And Merc is throwing a rather large stack of chips its way. Meet the new Mercedes-Benz X-Class, a pickup with a penchant for posh.
To show how serious it is at wading into this crowded and competitive market, Mercedes has produced not one, but two X-Class concepts: the ‘Powerful Adventurer’ and the ‘Stylish Explorer.’
Let’s start with the ‘Stylish Explorer.’ This embodies how Mercedes believes it can sway buyers and pickup philosophy as a whole, by adding more car-like features and creature comforts to this normally grubby and utilitarian arm of motoring.
As you can see, it’s very swanky. The front end is stylized with a bulbous ‘power dome’ hood, gaping air intakes and muscular wheel arches. It wears the same face as Mercedes SUVs, but the single-louvre grille with three-pointed star smack bang in the middle is a nod to its coupé road cars. And check out the back: there’s an illuminated taillight that runs the whole perimeter of the tailgate. Very nice. Although the bling 22-inch alloys look rather tremendous, they’ll be more suited to Ayala Alabang than the countryside.
Same goes for the inside. It’s incredibly plush, with the marketing literature making it sound like a high-end whisky distillery. “The sensual touch and feel of the brown, very natural nubuck leather on the seats provides a cozy feel,” we’re told. “This warm color, which is also found on the dashboard, is combined with cool white nappa leather. The trim made of open-pore smoked oak contrasts with the brushed and polished aluminum trim elements.”
Merc’s second concept—‘The Powerful Adventurer’—is more rugged. And very yellow. Standing at nearly two meters tall (1.9m), your local multi-story carpark will hate it. On the whole, this one is a lot more ‘grrrr’ and built specifically for the wilderness thanks to 35x11.50 tires, high ground clearance, wide carbon arches, and an electric winch at the front and rear—so you can bury it in a ditch any which way you like.
The yellow and black scheme makes its way on the inside, too. Black nappa and carbon-style black embossed leather is contrasted against bright yellow. There’s also a fire extinguisher strapped to the dash and all the entertainment and connectivity we’re used from Merc’s road cars.
But before you get too excited, these two wonderful trucks are just concepts for now. But boy oh boy, we hope they don’t change that much before going into production in late 2017.
When it does go into production, the X-Class will be built off the same platform as the current Nissan Navara and upcoming Renault Alaskan. It’s all part of a collaborative deal between Merc and the Renault-Nissan Alliance where they share parts and technical know-how with each other.
Featuring a ladder-frame chassis, the X-Class can stomach a payload of 1.1 tons and heave up to 3.5 tons behind it. More than competitive in this market. But it also has independent rear suspension, coil springs and specific dampers, so it should ride and handle like a Mercedes, rather than a fruit cart. Plus, it has locking rear and inter-axle diffs, so it should be able to scale mountains with ease.
Given there’s an AMG variant of pretty much every car it produces, could we see Affalterbach’s take on the pickup? We can’t wait to find out.
NOTE: This article first appeared on TopGear.com. Minor edits have been made.