Thankfully it looks almost exactly like the X-Class Concept.
There’s a reason Mercedes chose South Africa as the backdrop for the reveal of the X-Class pickup, the carmaker’s first dedicated passenger truck that, unlike truck versions of the G-Class built for the military, is intended for civilian use. It’s all because within the borders of Africa’s more developed nation, truck sales account for 17% of all passengers and light commercial vehicle sales and Mercedes wants to be a part of that party. And it will, at least from what can be inferred by the fact it left the X-Class concept almost fully intact.
As with the concept, Mercedes has taken the Honda Ridgeline approach, giving the front end the look of its current SUV lineup while abruptly cutting off the rear end so that it forms a bed. The X-Class represents a bold step, one that BMW and Audi have yet to make, but the truck wasn’t derived by bold Mercedes bean counters sticking their necks out and taking a risk on a new platform. That’s because underneath the sheet metal is a mid-size Navara platform borrowed from Nissan, the global successor to what us Americans call the Frontier. Like the Navara, the X-Class will not be making it to the US, but we’re still infatuated enough with it to delve into the details.
Like a modern crossover, the X-Class is designed to deliver the best of two worlds: luxury looks and feel with rugged usability. The latter emphasis is embodied in the rear tailgate, which can either swing open 90 degrees or, with the optional rear bumper delete, can be opened a full 180 degrees. Evidence that Mercedes had the European market in mind is seen in the bed, which is sized to carry a flatly-loaded Euro-spec pallet between the wheel arches. Inside the bed is a lighting system while a light underneath the rear brake light can illuminate the entire bed when visibility is nil. Merging Mercedes’ philosophy of supplying buyers with a long list of options works perfectly with a truck's need for high customizability.
That’s why the X-Class comes in three flavors to suit any buyer. X-Class Pure is the basic trim suited for functionality and is best used for more commercial applications. X-Class Progressive adds some flavor to the Pure trim with extra styling touches and more comfort-oriented amenities for private owners with some coin and a penchant for carrying cargo. The range-topping X-Class Power, however, is a lifestyle vehicle through and through, combining the best X-Class purpose-driven features with the type of luxury the Silver Star is known for. Buyers can chose between four engines, one gas-fed inline-four making 165 horsepower that's available only in left-hand drive and rear-wheel configuration.
The rest of the engines are diesel, two of them being 2.3-liter inline-four units—one with a single turbocharger making 163 horsepower and the second with a twin-turbo system that ups output to 190 horses—and are both available in left or right-hand drive. The range-topper is a diesel V6 unit rated at 255 horsepower and comes with a 1.1 ton payload capacity or 3.5 ton tow rating. Power is sent through a six-speed manual or seven-speed automatic on the former of the three engines while the V6 gets a permanent 4MATIC all-wheel drive system and Mercedes’ 7G Tronic Plus automatic gearbox with shift paddles. The customizability in the powertrain only alludes to how the rest of the truck can be set up.
In total the X-Class can be had in one one nine colors with 17, 18, or 19-inch wheels while the interior specs sheet sees six seat color options and two headliner choices to go with the 8.4-inch screen and Mercedes’ Command infotainment software. Of course buyers can choose to add Mercedes’ vast array of driver aids and safety systems to the truck if their pocket books open wide enough, though the four-wheel coil-over suspension system and the supple on-road comfort it delivers is standard across the board. It's a testament to Mercedes’ goal of keeping handling on par with its passenger cars despite the body-on frame chassis, although a higher ground clearance will be standard outside of the European market.
We can expect to spot our first examples of the X-Class in Europe this November with a starting price of €37,000 ($42,758) before it moves on to Africa, South America, and other markets in 2018 or 2019. If the 25 year import ban holds, don’t cross your fingers for any to come to America before 2042 unless Mercedes changes its mind.