THE first of the Mercedes-Benz X-Class workhorses have been caught slipping into Australia ahead of an April launch of the luxury-badged trade ute.
Spied by reader Wayne Renfrew close to Mercedes-Benz’s Australian headquarters in the south-eastern suburbs of Melbourne, it’s our first look at the local specification X-Class that will add a bit of cashed-up tradie toff to the worksite.
These utes wear the X250d 4matic badge. The lack of chrome trim on the rear bumper marks them as “Progressive” variants, featuring four-cylinder twin-turbo diesel engines with either a six-speed manual gearbox or seven-speed automatic transmission, and costing from $54,900.
The X-Class range will launch in Australia with a four-cylinder diesel line-up, but will add a V6 version later this year for those owners who want a bit more under-bonnet growl for towing the horse float full of polo ponies.
Mercedes-Benz commercial vehicles spokesman Blake Vincent said Wayne had caught the first shipment of 35 production-ready X-Class utes arriving in Australia ahead of their on-sale date.
“We have a fleet of vehicles that are coming in to support local launch activities, which happen in April,” he said. “There’s [also] some final fitting of accessory parts and some final testing to make sure everything is right to go to launch.”
Mercedes-Benz will launch hype around its X-Class using former punk rocker Henry Rollins, who will next week kick off a tour of the trade ute from Melbourne to Mount Isa, talking to the people he meets along the way.
The luxury-focussed X-Class arrives ahead of the highly anticipated Ford Ranger Raptor, a hi-po 156kW/500Nm twin-turbo 2.0-litre diesel version of what last year was Australia’s best-selling 4x4 trade ute. In comparison, the twin-turbo 2.3-litre X-Class will produce 140kW/450Nm. The similarities don’t end there; like the Raptor, the top-end X-Class variants are expected to feature coil-sprung rear suspension replacing the load-bearing leaf springs, adding a new level of driver involvement.
The V6-engined version of the X-Class, producing an anticipated 190kW/550Nm, should provide even more performance punch than the Raptor. Adding weight to the thought that we will soon have a trade ute performance war on our hands, Mercedes-Benz hasn’t ruled out one day doing an AMG-fettled version of the X-Class that will compete for the hearts and wallets of high-end ute buyers more interested in more go than show.
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