Mercedes-Benz is only weeks away from revealing more details of the one-tonne trade ute that will carry the German luxury brand into the muddy middle ground between luxury cars and workhorses.
The revelation comes as the Nissan-Renault Alliance, which makes the Nissan Navara trade ute on which the Mercedes-Benz GLT will be based, says it is almost ready to kick-start production of yet another version of the Navara, called the Renault Alaskan.
“The new [Mercedes-Benz] pick-up will share some of its architecture with the all-new Nissan NP300 [Navara],” the alliance said in a statement released just as the Paris Motor Show kicked off.
“It will be engineered and designed by Daimler to meet the specific needs of its customers in Europe, Australia, South Africa and Latin America,” it said.
“The vehicle will have all of Mercedes-Benz’s distinctive characteristics and features. Production of the Mercedes-Benz pick-up truck will take place at the Renault plant in Cordoba, Argentina, and at Nissan’s Barcelona plant in Spain, where the Nissan NP300 Frontier and the Renault Alaskan will also be produced.
“In October, Mercedes-Benz will provide further insights into the new pick-up truck’s design, strategy and markets.”
The Mercedes-Benz ute isn’t likely to get to Australia until late 2017 at the earliest, meaning the Renault-badged version of the Navara is likely to arrive here months before the one wearing the Three-Pointed Star does.
The Mercedes-Benz version of the Navara is expected to use a similar interior to the V-Class van range, which combines some elements of the German brand’s commercial vehicles blended with passenger car comforts.
What’s not yet known is what will power the Benz-badged ute. We can guess that it’s likely to be Mercedes’ twin-turbo 2.1-litre diesel engine, although a turbo V6 producing around 200kW and 600Nm – along with a full load of leather, wood and brushed aluminium – will help justify the premium $70,000-plus price tag expected for the range-topping version.
However, Australia is likely to see the GLT ute ahead of everyone else for a very different reason – Mercedes-Benz has flagged that because Australia is expected to be one of its most important markets, part of its development will take place here.