While Volkswagen recently suggested that a power war between its Amarok V6 and the Mercedes-Benz X-Class had ceased, it seems the (one-sided) jibes haven't, with a VW executive from Down Under now suggesting that buyers of the Navara-based bakkie could be seen as "suckers".
Speaking to motoring.com.au, Michael Bartsch, who holds the role of CEO at Volkswagen Group Australia, claimed that there was not enough of a differentiation between the X-Class and the Nissan Navara with which it shares its platform.
“I would like to think that if there is a joint-venture done we would do a better job of differentiating the products between the two companies,” Bartsch told the Australian publication, commenting on June's news that VW and Ford are "exploring" a strategic alliance that could include the co-development of commercial vehicles.
“I think with all the respect I have for Mercedes – my grandfather was a Daimler-Benz engineer and my father worked for Daimler-Benz – I would make a personal comment that brands with very definitive positions in the market and cultures need to be very careful about how they maintain that integrity.
“I think the market is fairly sophisticated and well educated and people are prepared to pay premiums for products that are premium and earn a premium. But I think, ultimately, people are also concerned about not being seen to be suckers,” he said.
Of course, this isn’t the first time a VW executive from Australia has taken a potshot at the X-Class, with Bartsch himself earlier billing it as nothing more than a “very expensive Nissan”, another branding it an “over-hyped concept” and a third quipping that it is "very difficult to disguise a Nissan Navara". A BMW official, too, once called the X-Class “appalling”.
Interestingly, Bartsch had only good things to say about the new Ford Ranger Raptor.
“I think the Ford Raptor is a good product and I think it’s something anyone would be happy to have in their garage. I think Ford have done a marvellous job with that car,” he said.
Ryan has spent most of his career in online media, writing about everything from sport to politics and other forms of crime. But his true passion – reignited by a 1971 Austin Mini Mk3 still tucked lifeless in a dark corner of his garage – is of the automotive variety.