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Daimler has launched its long-heralded X-class medium size pickup truck, effectively a rebadge of the Nissan-Renault Alliance’s Barcelona built Navara model line.

The German automaker has previously partnered with Volkswagen to share its Sprinter large van and currently has Renault build the small Kangoo-based Citan though that ‘rebadge’ also included a completely new cockpit.

Discussing X-class prospects, Daimler said the medium-sized pickup segment is “global, high-volume and has further growth potential”. It estimates, by 2026, the market will increase from 2.2m (2016) to 3.2m units (+43%).

“High-quality private vehicles with passenger car-like characteristics and comfort features will play an increasingly important role here,” Daimler said in a statement.

“Mercedes-Benz recognised this trend early on and with the X-class is pushing forward into this attractive segment as the first premium manufacturer.”

Sales start

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By GlobalData

Sales begin in November 2017 followed by South Africa, Australia and New Zealand at the beginning of 2018 with Argentina and Brazil following at the beginning of 2019. All are strong markets for pickup trucks – the Ford Ranger is the top selling vehicle in New Zealand.

Including the 19% VAT (sales or consumption tax), Mercedes-Benz has priced X-class in Germany from EUR37,294 (US$43,030).

In Argentina and Australia, Daimler said, pickups account “for well over 10%” of the overall market (2016:12% and 16%, respectively). By 2026 the automaker expects growth just under 20% in Argentina and 6% in Australia. A high level of two digit gain is expected in Brazil while Europe growth is pegged at 12%. Demand from commercial customers remains but a growing number of private buyers want versatile vehicles with passenger car-like characteristics and a high level of comfort.

The spec

Mercedes-Benz is pitching X-class with capacity for up to five passengers with three trim variants, four or six cylinder diesel and petrol engines, rear wheel drive or switchable or permanent all-wheel drive, six-speed manual transmission or seven-speed automatic, and a large range of dealer fit accessories.

M-B Cars head Dieter Zetsche said: “The segment for mid-size pickups is ready for a premium vehicle. We will open this segment up to new customer groups, just as we redefined the off-road segment with the M-Class over 20 years ago.”

Production for Europe, Australia and South Africa will start in 2017 Nissan’s Barcelona factory while Latin American market models will be built at the Renault plant in Cordoba, Argentina, from 2019.

The three trim levels are base Pure, mid-range Progressive and Power.

Standard or optional passive and active safety equipment includes Active Brake Assist, Lane Keeping Assist and Traffic Sign Assist plus trailer stability, tyre pressure monitoring, emergency call system, cruise control and LED headlights.

Daimler claims a mid-size pickup first: in a redesigned dashboard completely different from the Navara’s is a communications module with an integrated SIM card so occupants can use the extensive connect services and unlock with a smartphone. The ‘me connect’ system can display things like vehicle location or tank fill level on a smart phone and also navigate. Mercedes-Benz passenger car items such as a multifunction touchpad and integrated Comand Online multimedia system with hard-disk navigation, Linguatronic voice control and internet access via smartphone will also be available so clearly Daimler has spiffed up the base Nissan equipment packages as well.

Launch engines will be the common rail diesel X220d (120kW/163 hp) and X250d (140kW/190hp) plus a 122kW/165hp petrol I4. A V6 diesel goes on sale mid-2018.

Daimler said it retuned springs and dampers “for the comfort typical of Mercedes” and also claims X-class is the “first pickup that offers not just excellent off-road but also superb on-road performance”.

Nissan’s switchable all-wheel drive has been rebranded as Mercedes’ 4Matic and has low-range gearing and an optional differential lock on the rear axle. Permanent all-wheel drive will be added mid-2018. It will offer maximum performance and traction even while driving on-road at full speed.