Daimler’s Mercedes-Benz luxury-vehicle unit this week unveiled the production version of its X-Class, the first pickup truck to wear the Mercedes-Benz star. The X-Class is a 4-door midsize pickup using the NP300 body-on-frame (BOF) architecture of the Nissan Navara, largely the same pickup sold in the U.S. as the Nissan Frontier.
From the time it was confirmed in 2015 that Daimler and Nissan-Renault would partner to build the X-Class, Mercedes-Benz has insisted it does not intend to sell the pickup in North America. In announcing details of the production X-Class, Mercedes-Benz continues with the point, saying the X-Class will begin production at Nissan’s assembly plant in Barcelona, Spain by the end of this year for the Europe, South Africa and Australia markets. The Latin America market will be served in 2019 by X-Class pickups built at a Renault assembly plant in Cordoba, Argentina.
“The X-Class is aimed at very different customer groups: land owners and farmers in Argentina, business owners and building contractors in Australia, families with an affinity for premium products in Brazil, trend-conscious individualists in South Africa and Great Britain as well as sporty adventurers in New Zealand and Germany,” Mercedes-Benz said in a release summarizing its current market intent for the new pickup. The company also stressed the new pickup is “attractively priced in the segment” in its launch markets.
Rugged chassis, diesel-oriented powertrain
What brand loyalists are likely to find most divergent from Mercedes-Benz’s famous technology focus is the X-Class pickup’s reliance on traditional chassis design, chiefly the BOF architecture and solid rear axle—although the rear axle apparently is located with multiple links and suspension comes not from pickup-standard leaf springs but coil springs. There are ventilated disc brakes at each corner.
The more-utilitarian orientation extends to the drivetrain: the X-Class initially is fitted with a conventional transfer case that allows selection between rear-wheel drive or full-time engagement of the front axle. The company nonetheless is employing its well-established 4Matic moniker for the setup, despite the fact its engagement is not automatic.
Later, Mercedes-Benz said, the X-Class’ optional gasoline V6 will be coupled with a permanent AWD system.
At launch, there is a gasoline 2L 4-cyl. coupled only with RWD and left-hand drive for certain markets. The primary engine choices, however, are 2.3L turbodiesels of varying power ratings. The single-turbocharged variant develops 163 hp and 297 lb·ft (403 N·m). A twin-turbocharged version of the same engine generates 190 hp and 332 lb·ft (450 N·m).
The standard transmission for either diesel is a 6-speed automatic; the higher-powered 2.3L turbodiesel also is available with a 7-speed automatic. Either engine can be coupled with the driver-actuated 4WD system.
The V6 diesel, promised by mid-2018, generates 258 hp and 406 lb·ft (550 N·m), the company said.
Midsize, not compact
Mercedes-Benz said the overall length of the new X-Class pickup is 210.2 in (5340 mm) and wheelbase is 124 in (3150 mm). The most compact 4-door version of Ford’s F-150 fullsize pickup is 231.9 in (5890 mm) long, with a wheelbase of 145 in (3683 mm). The X-Class bed length is 62.5 in (1587 mm), similar to most U.S.-market midsize pickups. Maximum payload is 2297 lb (1042 kg).