There can’t be a more anticipated vehicle this year than the Mercedes-Benz X-Class double cab.
When we first revealed the concept’s images and details on our website in October last year, CARmag.co.za experienced so much traffic that our servers fell over. Twice. Why the enormous interest? The surprise factor is part of it, definitely, and ours were among the world’s raised eyebrows when the news first broke … but we also have to acknowledge some Mercedes-Benz precedent here. This isn’t the first time Benz has made a pick-up (apologies, but I can’t get my head around calling any Benz a “bakkie”); in fact, it’s not even the second. In the 1940s, it produced a single cab called the 170 V; in some markets during the 1950s you could by a single cab based on the 180 D Ponton; and, for a brief period, a W115 pick-up was manufactured in Argentina.
Remember too that, in 1997, it was this German’s automaker’s ML series that blazed the way for what would become a significant new market segment: road-biased, luxury SUVs. Merc is a past master at knowing when to offer its brand of automotive luxury to an emerging segment and this X-Class is a particularly smart move. Bakkies are not only the bestsellers in our market, but the segment has shown significant growth in regions such as Europe where folk are beginning to see the value in a vehicle that can be both a comfortable family car and occasionally moonlight as a workhorse. With top-spec, one-tonner double cabs from the likes of Toyota, Ford and Volkswagen offering SUV-like amenities and price tags that have broken the R600k barrier – and even R700k in the Amarok’s case – the path has been well paved for Benz to step in and make a real impact at this end of the double-cab market.
Yes, it’s based on a Nissan Navara platform, but I don’t think buyers will give that a second thought. This cost saving may well see it launched here at a lower price point than was originally speculated. Add to that the Mercedes-Benz luxury touch and Three-pointed Star’s caché, and I reckon the German brand has another winner.