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This pickup truck is a Mercedes-Benz

But is this X-Class just a glorified Nissan Navara?

Do you recognize the Navara from this angle? PHOTO FROM MERCEDES-BENZ

Luxury pickup truck, anyone?

Throughout their car-making history, premium automotive companies have been known to break out of character every now and then, and introduce vehicle models that are not in keeping with the overall brand ethos. The motivation is either to experiment or to cash in on the latest profitable trend in the industry.

Remember the Lamborghini LM002 SUV back in the ’80s? What about the FF, a four-wheel-drive Ferrari? The Bentley Bentayga also comes to mind, as does the Scion iQ-based Aston Martin Cygnet. All of these vehicles show their respective manufacturers’ greediness willingness to gamble and do things for the first time.

How about from this dead-front angle here? PHOTO FROM MERCEDES-BENZ

It’s Mercedes-Benz’s turn this time around, having just launched the X-Class pickup. Yes, a one-ton (payload capacity) midsize pickup in the same size department as the Ford Ranger and the Toyota Hilux. In fact, this new Merc pickup is actually based on the Nissan Navara—immediately betrayed by the exact same wheelbase (3,150mm) and automatic shift lever. Before the launch, Daimler had gone on record saying the X-Class is the result of “a production cooperation with the Renault-Nissan Alliance,” and that “production for the European, Australian and South African markets will start at the Nissan plant in Barcelona, Spain, in 2017.”

Of course, Mercedes has also gone to great lengths to bury the Navara connection with an exterior rebuild. So the X-Class is longer at 5,340mm (versus 5,255mm), wider at 1,920mm (versus 1,790mm), and taller at 1,819mm (versus 1,760mm)—all to create the illusion that it’s a brawnier, heftier, truly higher-end pickup.

Here's a nice action shot of the Navara. We mean the X-Class. Yeah, the X-Class. PHOTO FROM MERCEDES-BENZ
The Navara has a wheelbase of 3,150mm. Same as the pickup in the picture. Déjà vu? PHOTO FROM MERCEDES-BENZ

And if you demand more proof that Mercedes wants to play down the X-Class’s LCV (that’s light commercial vehicle) roots, you need only to scan the entire press pack that came with the vehicle’s introduction. About a dozen documents in the press kit and not one (not one!) mention of the word “truck.” Instead, the company places the emphasis on “lifestyle.” The X-Class, put simply, wants to be known as the lifestyle pickup. I don’t know if this will sit well with straight men, who, last I checked, are still the principal market for pickups—regular, luxury or otherwise.

Mercedes-Benz has gone to great lengths to bury the Navara connection with an exterior rebuild

To be fair, Mercedes is offering the X-Class in three trims: Pure (“basic variant for rugged, functional use”), Progressive (“rugged with extra styling and comfort functions”), and Power (aimed at customers for whom styling, performance and comfort are paramount”). So if you’re a chauvinistic rich pig who just likes the idea of driving a pickup with a three-point star on the grille, go for the base variant. The X-Class you see in these photos wears the Progressive trim, by the way.

According to Mercedes, five customer groups have been identified for the X-Class: active families with a fondness for premium products; successful urban adventurers who dig outdoor sports; trend-conscious individuals; business owners; and landowners. Practically the same target buyers for the Navara. Just with more money to show off their Instagram-perfect lives.

It’s like a Japanese man who went to Germany and applied for citizenship status. PHOTO FROM MERCEDES-BENZ
Once he got his German citizenship, he smugly shouts it from the mountaintop. PHOTO FROM MERCEDES-BENZ

“With the Mercedes-Benz pickup, we will close one of the last gaps in our portfolio,” said Daimler AG chairman Dr. Dieter Zetsche in a previously released statement. “We want to offer customers vehicles matching their specific needs. The X-Class will set new standards in a growing segment.”

Translation: “We want to rip off as many customers as we possibly can.”

At the moment, the X-Class is available with two 2.3-liter common-rail diesel engines—one with a single turbocharger (163hp and 403Nm) and another with a biturbo (190hp and 450Nm). Aren’t these the same powerplants laboring under the hood of the Navara?!

A six-speed manual transmission is standard, while a seven-speed automatic shifter is on offer for the twin-turbo diesel engine.

Expected to be released next year is a high-torque diesel V6 rated at 258hp and 550Nm.

The automatic shifter negates efforts to hide evidence of the Navara blueprint. PHOTO FROM MERCEDES-BENZ
The exact moment the owner noticed the uncanny resemblance to the Navara. PHOTO FROM MERCEDES-BENZ
This boy has no idea that their new Merc is the same as their neighbor's Nissan. Oops. PHOTO FROM MERCEDES-BENZ

Anyway, to help buyers personalize their X-Class and erase all remaining traces of the Navara, a set of accessories has already been announced, which includes a sports bar, sidebar steel, a canopy, a bed-liner, a hard tonneau cover, a roll cover, a storage box, and an underguard.

Mercedes-Benz badges are also available. Wait…sorry, these badges come standard with the X-Class.

Vernon B. Sarne

Vernon is the founder and editor-in-chief of VISOR. He has been an automotive journalist since July 1995. He became one by serendipity, walking into the office of a small publishing company and applying for a position he had no idea was for a local car magazine. God has watched over him throughout his humble journey. He writes the ‘Spoiler’ column.