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5 things we learned about Merc's SA-bound X-Class bakkie

2017-03-10 11:49

Alexander Parker

WORLD'S FIRST PREMIUM BAKKIE: The new Mercedes-Benz X-Class is headed for South Africa. Image: Alex Parker

Switzerland - Mercedes-Benz has unveiled some interesting models at the 2017 Geneva motor show earlier in March. 

One of the stars of its line-up is its highly-anticipated X-Class bakkie. 

Wheels24's Alexander Parker spoke to Mercedes-Benz Vans boss Volker Mornhinweg on the fringes of the Geneva motor show earlier this week.

This is what he learnt about the X-Class double-cab bakkie: 

1. It’s going to be expensive

Morhinweg says Mercedes-Benz spotted a gap at the upper end of the bakkie market. “It’s too early to say” where the ceiling exists for premium bakkie pricing, Mornhinweg says, but that there “is an opportunity for a premium pick-up, and the pricing will be higher.”

Given that, for example, a high-end two-litre Amarok starts at almost R650 000 these days, it’s possible the top-end X-Class bakkies could push towards R1-million.

2. It's not just a 'Navara with a Mercedes badge'

Your clever friends who say "it’s just a Navara with a Mercedes badge" aren’t as clever as they think they are. All Mercedes-Benz is borrowing from Nissan's flagship bakkie is “the ladder frame”, Mornhinweg says, adding that Nissan “has 80 years of experience” making these things.

READ: Mercedes’ SA-bound X-Class bakkie - Here's all you need to know

However, when it comes to the set-up of the powertrain, all companies have a different philosophy”, Mornhinweg says. “We took the ladder frame, and all the other stuff we’ve done ourselves,” he said, adding that the suspension systems front and rear, the brakes, the powertrain will be engineered 100% at Stuttgart. “Just the ladder frame,” Monhinweg emphasised, is from Nissan. 

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3. There will be three engines at launch

One of them will be a version of the 2.3-litre Nissan Diesel engine, and not a version of Mercedes-Benz’s new two-litre diesel. It will, however, be heavily tuned and adjusted by Mercedes-Benz.

“It’s a robust engine, and we’ll make some adjustments to make it for our set-up”, says Monhinweg. Additionally there will be a Mercedes-Benz V6 diesel, as well as what Morhinweg vaguely described as “a petrol engine”.

READ: #GenevaMotorShow - SA-bound X-Class bakkie and more Mercs previewed

All of this leaves Wheels24 thinking about nomenclature. Our best guess is as follows: An X250d (the 2.3 four-cylinder), an X350d (the V6 diesel) and then … well, that’s the big question. Will Mercedes-Benz go for a V6 petrol (perhaps a X350 or an X400), or, heaven help us, will we get an X500 with a V8 turbopetrol? That, surely, would be the king of bakkies…

4. There will be no AMG version

One got the feeling that Morhinweg was tired of being asked but when Wheels24 asked him about the Mercedes-AMG X63s, we were told in clear terms: "Absolutely not. Sorry…"

READ: 11 things you should know about the Mercedes X-Class

It will come with the full range of Mercedes tech. Morhingweg refused to be drawn on details, but when asked about fitment of Disctronic and other Intelligent Drive applications, he said the X-Class would come with the full Mercedes-Benz treatment. That really will be a whole new level of truck, if that’s the case.

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5. It will be built in Argentina

It will not be built in South Africa. We asked because there’s a Nissan factory in Rosslyn and a Mercedes-Benz factory in East London, but the answer was an emphatic “no”. South African X-Classes will be built in Spain, and another factory will produce the bakkie in Argentina. 

It has been tested extensively in South Africa already. Enough said – it’s brilliant on gravel roads, Morhinweg says.

READ: Mercedes reveals new SA-bound bakkie - Meet the X-Class double-cab

Morhinweg also revealed nothing about gearboxes. Our guess is a manual option and a 7-Speed torque convertor automatic. But they’re being very cagey about all this…

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