Our eagle-eyed spy photographers have snapped the new Mercedes pick-up testing for the first time, ahead of its launch later this year. We had previously reported a Paris Motor Show debut in October, and these pictures show the truck is right on track.
While a name is yet to be confirmed, the internet rumour mill is showing speculation around the GLT badge. Following Merc's new naming structure, that would suggest the brand's pick-up would sit it above the current flagship GLS. However, given its primary use as a commercial vehicle (rather than an SUV) it could get a completely new nomenclature. If that's the case, X-Class could be a strong contender.
Based on the new Nissan NP300 Navara, the 'GLT' or 'X-Class' will offer seating for five, as well as a huge 3,500kg towing capacity. It's unclear whether Merc's new pick-up will offer different body styles, but the Nissan comes with a choice of King-Cab or Double-Cab models – the latter offering proper rear doors.
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Mercedes vans CEO Volker Mornhinweg confirmed Mercedes will launch a pick-up by the end of 2017 to rival the likes of the Volkswagen Amarok. An official sketch was released earlier this year, too, showing the pick-up will use familiar styling cues like a wide three-bar grille, swept-back headlights and curvy front wings.
While it'll feel and drive like a Nissan Navara, the overall design will share key similarities with Mercedes’ range of SUVs like the recently revealed GLE and GLE Coupe. Towards the rear, Auto Express understands there are slim taillights either side of a wide tailgate and the rear bumper can be removed to aid the loading of large objects.
Under its skin, the Navara uses a single 2.3-litre diesel, but we believe the Mercedes newcomer will offer four and six-cylinder petrol and diesel engines paired with manual and automatic transmissions. There's even a petrol-hybrid variant mooted to arrive later as Mercedes attempts to secure top-dog status in the pick-up sector.
Inside Mercedes is keen to make the pick-up feel like any other passenger car in its range, so we can expect a familiar design and focus on technology seen on the recent Mercedes V-Class MPV. Posh features like a floating tablet-like central screen and the latest active safety and driver assistance are expected, but to make sure the pick-up can handle a rugged way of life, it’ll more than likely use tough plastics as well.
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The new, as-yet unnamed pick-up will sit alongside the existing Mercedes-Benz light commercial vehicle range of Sprinter, Vito and Citan vans. And just like the Vito panel van and V-Class MPV, it’s believed Mercedes will offer two versions of the pick-up for different markets: Commercial and a plusher high-spec model for passenger car duties – the latter featuring big car equipment like leather and wood trim.
The new pick-up will not only widen Mercedes’ car and passenger model range, but will also allow the German company to take a share of the lucrative pick-up market which currently accounts for 2.3 million sales globally. It’s thought Volkswagen’s decision to enter the sector with the Amarok in 2010 has forced Mercedes’ hand – the Amarok set new standards in the class by being a step-up in image over the likes of the Mitsubishi L200 and Ford Ranger, and it taps into a growing trend of buyers wanting pick-ups with more car-like features.
Volker Mornhinweg has given the project the green light – his arrival five years ago has led to Mercedes rethinking its business model by offering more global products rather than purely focusing on Europe. Mercedes’ other commercial vehicles are already sold internationally – the Sprinter, for example, is sold in 130 markets and produced in five different factories.
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With its new pick-up, Mercedes is expected to do what it did with the M-Class two decades ago – help to redefine the segment by offering a product that focuses more on comfort and luxury but that still offers a decent slug of off-road ability and ruggedness.
The show debut arrive as much as a year ahead of the new model going on sale. We're not expecting UK deliveries to start until the beginning of 2018 at the earliest.
Do you think a Mercedes-Benz pick-up truck is a good move for the brand? Let us know in the comments section below…