Mercedes’ all-new tradie is still in line for some serious go-fast enhancements.
MERCEDES-BENZ’S future tradie ute could feature a performance-focused, AMG-tuned halo model when it arrives in Australia in 2018.
Speaking to Wheels at the Detroit Motor Show, AMG boss Tobias Moers revealed AMG is considering fettling a more hard-core variant of the ute, which is expected to be called the Mercedes-Benz GLT.
Pitched as a direct rival to the popular Toyota Hilux and Ford Ranger, the GLT will share engineering underpinnings with the D23 Nissan Navara (pictured below) and the production version of the Renault Alaskan concept (pictured bottom), although the German carmaker promises it will “be engineered and designed by Daimler to meet the specific needs of its customers”.
“A V8 AMG pick-up — wow!” said Moers when quizzed about the ute’s performance potential. “I had a discussion with Volker Mornhinweg, who runs that division (and used to work at AMG) just half-an-hour ago actually.
“So we haven’t really started the discussion about the AMG involvement with that car yet. But we have to. We’re going to have a look at it for sure.”
However, Moers quickly quashed hopes that AMG could produce a V8-powered version of the GLT, instead admitting the AMG treatment was likely to be cosmetic.
“Is there going to be an engine with an AMG interpretation? No,” he said. “Is there going to be an AMG-line, which will have unique bumpers and wheels? Maybe. But there’ll be no 4.0-litre twin-turbo V8 model [the engine in the AMG C63 S] , so it won’t be a proper AMG car. That’s what I think so far.”
Even without an AMG-specific tune, the GLT is tipped to be the most powerful ute in its class. Mercedes has previously hinted that the GLT would use a range of four- and six-cylinder engines, including the 190kW/620Nm 3.0-litre V6 turbo-diesel currently used in its flagship S-Class and GLE SUV.
The GLT will be offered in several distinct trim levels, including an entry-level model targeted at tradespeople, and others with more luxurious interiors.
“It’s clear to me that the ute will have a blend of commercial and private use,” said ex-AMG chief and now Daimler sales and marketing boss, Ola Kallenius.
“So as is the case with the current V-Class [people-mover], there will be a more commercial side to that product and a more passenger car side to that product. So it will cater to both the workhorse side of things and the leisure side of things.”
What’s less clear is if the ute will feature any of Mercedes’s new autonomous driving technology or other high-tech systems shown on the new E-Class, unveiled in full at Detroit this week.
“It’s too early to make specifics about it, because it’s still a little bit away,” said Kallenius.
Australia was singled out as one of the key global markets for the Mercedes-badged ute. Our tradie is likely to come from Spain, where separate versions for all three brands will be built.