By Daniels Ekugo
The Nigerian automotive industry will soon witness a sort of royal rumble match in the pickup segment as loyal fans of Mercedes Benz has urged the authorized dealer of the marquee to hasten the introduction of the Mercedes X Class to its kitty.
In a poll by this magazine, 80 per cent of the respondents agreed that Mercedes Benz in Nigeria should have grown to unveil the X-Class which has been making progress in other climes. 10 per cent of the respondents were of the opinion that the X-Class, although, a welcomed development to the auto market here will not speak volumes considering the feat the Toyota Hilux, JAC and the Ford pick-up variants are doing currently in the Nigerian market.
Responding to question on the acceptability of the X-Class if unveiled to the Nigerian auto market, Chukwudi Maduforo, a Mercedes Benz loyalist said: “I think it is time, Mercedes ups its game in the Nigerian market by introducing the X-Class. With what the Toyota and Ford variants are doing, you should know why the introduction of the X-Class surely will be.
“As a decidedly premium vehicle, the X-Class might look unusual to Nigerian consumers, but Mercedes-Benz is banking on the expanding popularity of the pick-up truck sector to drive sales. The company says truck drivers aren’t just looking for a mechanical workhorse anymore; they want a vehicle that can do duty for both “private and commercial use,” bridging the gap between urban and city use.” He opined.
Segun Olarewanju, an auto sales agent with Autopoint in Agidingbi, Ikeja Lagos said “This is something new – a global attempt to go after the likes of the Toyota Hilus, VW Amarok and Nissan Navara. Mercedes has done a good job of disguising the surface. The X-class looks unique, well aligned with the rest of Merc’s commercial and passenger car range. It’s only the shape of the rear lights and that kick-up in the rear passenger window line that looks Nissan-ish.”
Similarly, a car analyst with Triple Force Media in Ikeja, Lagos, Nigeria opined that “It’s an all-out war in Nigeria now with the German automakers Mercedes Benz and Volkswagen, keen on challenging the dominance of perennial favorites Toyota and Ford. With the V6-powered engine, the X-class divides opinion with its snobby badge and Nissan Navara underpinnings and comes with permanent all-wheel drive.”
And from Ms Favour Obiageli, banker and car enthusiast “Pick Up trucks are going through something of a transition. While they were once the preserve of building sites and farmyards, many are now also being used as large SUVs by families.
“It is no secret that because pick-ups are more available with better interiors and premium badges, the number of private buyers is steadily rising. I think the Mercedes Benz X-Class is aiming to target these buyers : the odd private individual who needs a rugged vehicle, but mainly company car drivers who want something that will cope with harsh use at work but can shrug off family life the rest of the time.”
Reports from the automaker said that the Mercedes X-Class borrows a much of its styling cues from other vehicles in the Mercedes-Benz lineup. Its front fascia, particularly the grill, shows similarities to that of the GLS. Meanwhile, the rear remains mostly unaltered from its more mainstream sibling, the Navara, apart from the slimmer LED tail lights. The pickup’s design was penned by Filipino automotive designer, Wini Camacho
Inside, Mercedes has brought most of their design elements into the X-Class such as the round air vents and the tri-spoke multi-function steering wheel. A standard 5.4-inch or an option 8.4-inch infotainment system can be found on the dash with the central knob controls located right below the gear lever.
There are two major versions of the truck, one focused on off-road use and the other highlighting Mercedes’ premium stylings.
“With the Mercedes-Benz pickup we will close one of the last gaps in our portfolio,” said Daimler CEO Dieter Zetsche in a press statement. “The X-Class will set new standards in a growing segment.”
But also, if you are thinking of having an AMG version of the X-Class, No. it cant happen. It turns out that the company has no plans to put a V8 under the hood of the Nissan Navara based vehicle and this was revealed by Mercedes AMG president Tobias Moers.
“There will be no X-Class AMG.” Moers told the media in Texas. “Never.”
An AMG tuned X-Class, however is not something that is appropriate, at least according to Moers. He believes the hardcore roots of AMG don’t match the Japanese – French origins of the pickup.
Both X-Class variants look unmistakably like a Mercedes-Benz (you’d know even without the badge) but come with a few differentiating features. The off-road focused model (dubbed the “Powerful Adventurer”) has a higher ride-height and ground clearance, along with extra protection on the wheel arches. While the more refined “Stylish Explorer” model has more of an SUV feel to it, with cleaner running lines, flared wheel arches, and 22-inch light-alloy wheels. Both, of course, have all the usual technological extras, including a central touchscreen display “similar to a smartphone” and “modern driver assistance.”
Dr Dieter Zetsche, described the pick-up as tough, and ready for challenges and expressed Daimler’s vision to redefine the pick-up market.
“It’s the “supermum and superadd of cars”, described Dr Zetsche describing how it is rough, rugged and practical workhorse that can be used everyday and still be is still fun and adventurous.
Dr Zetcsche also said that the X-Class will bring intelligence to market class, alluding to its on-board technology and connectivity.