Wednesday, October 26, 2016
Mercedes-Benz's Concept X-Class is a Vindication That The NP300 Navara is Good
Out there, Nissan is toasting to the vindication of their NP300 Navara platform as it finally wears a badge you’d least expect: Mercedes-Benz. That’s right, after going through almost every conceivable luxury niche, the world’s biggest premium automotive brand is now lending its badge to the pickup segment and the Concept X-Class gives the world a glimpse of what to expect.
Mercedes considers the X-Class to be “tough, functional, strong, and with off-road capability” combined with attributes such as “comfortable, dynamic driving dynamics, and safe.” In short, they’re saying the NP300 Navara is that good.
That’s because the main backbone of the X-Class is a ladder-type frame shared with Nissan. And as such can carry a payload of more than 1.1 metric tons and a towing capacity of up to 3.5 metric tons. Also, it also rides on a five-link rear axle on coil springs with “precisely calibrated spring/damper set-up” for yummy handling.
Thankfully, Mercedes is going out of their way to give the Concept X-Class a unique engine: a grunt-y one in the form of a torque-y diesel V6 engine. It also has permanent all-wheel drive that features an electronic traction control, a transfer case with reduction gear, and two differential locks.
The Concept X-Class is shown in two variants: stylish explorer and powerful adventurer. Whatever the variant, it features a three-pointed star large enough for Lewis Hamilton’s ego. There’s also a massive power dome on the hood and slim headlights. The front bumpers look like it’s gapping enough to swallow small children. The side profile is much closer to the NP300 Navara with the unmistakable link by the rear passenger window. The rear looks smoothened out, but the lack of stickers over there look disturbing.
The interior is still somewhat reminiscent of Nissan’s pickup (it has the same shifter, A/C controls, and center arm rest), but has been thoroughly tweaked and covered with all the usual Mercedes interior elements from the dual binnacle gauge cluster, floating infotainment screen, rounded air vents (six of them, six), and a good spattering of wood, chrome, and nappa leather.
Though premium pickups haven’t been a hit (the Lincoln Blackwood and the Cadillac Escalade EXT to name two), Mercedes is confident that the X-Class will do well since it appeals to “changing customer requirements in the global segment of mid-sized pickups.” In other words, the German company is thinking the world is finally ready for a pick-up truck that won’t be used for what it’s designed to do.
Production for the European, Australian, and South African markets will start at the Nissan plant in Barcelona, Spain, in 2017. The X-Class for the Latin American market will roll off the assembly lines at the Renault plant in Cordoba, Argentina, starting in 2018.
The key markets will be Argentina, Brazil, South Africa, Australia with New Zealand, and Europe.