By on December 27, 2021

Sort of like the Cimarron we covered in our last edition of Abandoned History a couple of months ago, today’s vehicle is pretending to be more than it is. It’s the luxury X-Class truck Mercedes-Benz sold in markets outside the USA. Can you tell what it actually is?

Mercedes billed its X-Class as the first pickup from a premium manufacturer. I suppose that means the Cadillac Escalade EXT and Lincoln Blackwood fell short of premium manufacturer status according to Mercedes. The X-Class was designed to “shift the limits of the classic pickup world” with its design. Breaking new ground as an urban lifestyle and family vehicle all in one, X-Class was up to almost any challenge.

Said challenges were presumably the same ones that applied to the Nissan Navara, which is what the X-Class was underneath. The third-gen Navara pickup went on sale late in 2014 in global markets and continues in production in three different factories today. As an aside, the Navara was not the basis for Nissan’s new Frontier in North America, as suspected. Nissan went a different direction and created an all-new Frontier based on the most recent F-Alpha platform for the 2022 model year. The D41 Frontier will be sold only in the North American market.

The X-Class was jointly developed by Mercedes and Renault-Nissan-Mitsubishi and was announced in October of 2016 as the daringly named X-Class Concept. Designed to grab a piece of the growing midsize pickup market outside the US, it was sold in Australia, New Zealand, South and Central America, Europe, and Africa.

The X-Class was a bit more than a badge swap: The Navara’s transformation into a luxurious Mercedes saw angles softened and required new front and rear fender designs. The front and rear clips were softer and more Mercedes, and the rear end less curvaceous and more upright. Fender arches were softer as well, as Mercedes turned an everyday Nissan into an upscale lifestyle device.

Mercedes reworked the Navara’s interior for X-Class purposes and did well in its disguise of the truck’s more basic roots. Seats, panels, most trim, door handles, dashboard, steering wheel, all were from Mercedes. Don’t think it was E-Class level finishing in there though, this was a tough working luxury truck and a part of the company’s commercial vehicle offerings. Most notably in the interior, X-Class implemented a central Mercedes infotainment screen.

The X-Class debuted in South Africa in July 2017 and entered full production in November that year. All X-Class trucks were produced in Spain, at Nissan Motor Ibérica in Barcelona. Available in rear- or 4MATIC all-wheel drive, X-Class offered a six-speed manual or seven-speed automatic. Of four engines on offer, two were Mercedes mills. The base 2.0-liter inline-four was the only gasoline engine, made by Mercedes. Two mid-spec engines were Renault-Nissan designs, a 2.3-liter inline-four with one or two turbos, and fueled by diesel. The largest X-Class engine was a 3.0-liter V6 turbodiesel, from Mercedes. That V6 was in diesel Grand Cherokees in 2007 and 2008 and was widely used across other Mercedes models including the S-Class.

Trims were three, and all P words: Pure, Progressive, and Power. Exterior trim badges indicated the engine used and started with the X200. The media reception for the X-Class was generally positive but always made sure to mention the truck was a Nissan underneath while referencing its price. In the U.K. the 2018 X-Class was over £42,000 ($56,000 USD). For comparison, a Defender presently starts at £45,600, and an E-Class wagon is £40,420. A four-door Hilux starts at £30,720. The Navara is discontinued in the UK as of 2022, but starts at £25,000.

If you’re thinking the X-Class was a bit of a cynical approach to a luxury truck by Mercedes, you’d be right. Mercedes targeted a wide array of customers: Farmers of South America, families in Brazil, contractors in Australia, and trendy people across Europe. But customers saw through the veiled Nissan, and sales were slow. The X-Class was meant to expand Mercedes’ commercial sales market share, and lessen the dependence on its Sprinter van. The intended competition was the Ford Ranger, Toyota Hilux, and Volkswagen Amarok (discontinued), but was more expensive than all those.

After its first full year on sale in 2018, just 16,700 total X-Class trucks were sold across Europe, Australia, and South Africa. As of the first nine months of 2019, Mercedes shifted 10,000. Mercedes told Nissan to stop building the X-Class as of May 2020, just two and a half years after it started production. Today, Mercedes’ commercial unit relies on the Sprinter lineup for the majority of its sales, as well as a couple of smaller vans, Vito and Citan.

For their part, Mercedes has left the X-Class as Abandoned History, and purged mention from its sites. But a search netted one helpful result: The Mercedes of Latin America X-Class Concept page is still alive and well and lifestyley and it’s in English. Let us all look back fondly on the time Mercedes sold a very dressed-up Nissan.

[Images: Nissan, Mercedes-Benz]

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20 Comments on “Abandoned History: The Mercedes-Benz X-Class, Nissan Luxe...”

  • avatar

    The other demon spawn of this collaboration is the A class, a lovely FWD transverse engine design that for the two weeks I had as a loaner, eluded any Benz like feeling….

  • avatar

    Just a note Mercedes/Daimler is the world’s largest manufacture of commercial trucks under their Mercedes, Freightliner, Mitsubishi brands. Handily beating #2 Tata and #3 Dongfeng.

  • avatar

    With any luck, the Nissan-based Mercedes would be more dependable, economical and long-lasting then the regular German ones, and parts could be sourced easily at a Nissan dealership or on Rock Auto.

    It makes you wonder… did Infiniti ever consider dressing up a Nissan pickup and then decide that it just wouldn’t play in the world market?

  • avatar

    Failed in Australia due to “badge engineering” bias. All we saw was a more expensive Nissan Navara, more so when the two were parked/traveling together. You could clearly see the Nissan in the Mercedes. We never took to badge engineering in a big way. The only success I know of is the Ford Laser/Mazda 323 twins. I think the Ford outsold the 323 3:1. The clever bit was that Mazda/Ford either had dual dealerships and the trims level were never duplicated, you could not buy the exact same car in either camp.

  • avatar
    Art Vandelay

    There was once a regular poster from Australia on here that proclaimed.this was going to outsell Dodge, GM and Ford’s offerings 8n the US. I kind of miss Big Al

    • 0 avatar

      Not to mention that there are a number of posters here that blasted Ford and Chevy for dressing up their trucks and marketing them as “luxury”…yet those sold and still sell well as pickups and SUVs while this rotted on the vine.

  • avatar

    I swear this terrible Tundra ad spam on this site ruins the quality of this website experience. Just awful

  • avatar

    Everyone here knew this was a Nissan underneath. But Mercedes did differentiate it by adding their own suspension, transmission and so forth. It is a commercial vehicle so it is not luxurious in any way except perhaps for the more advanced infotainment system over the original Nissan and Renault derivatives.

    I can imagine these being purchased by businesses and private buyers who already own Mercedes products and thus bought the X-Klasse instead of the Nissan for easier servicing purposes. It is the same story with the Mercedes Citan, a badge engineered Renault Kangoo; the Kangoo is cheaper and does the same task, but the Citan is purchased by fleet buyers who also own Mercedes Sprinters, Vitos and a variety of Mercedes trucks. This just makes fleet servicing easier when you can bring all of your cars to the same dealership.

    Something for the rare rides section would be the Mercedes 220D Pickup exclusively produced in Argentina from 1972 to 1976. No Nissan parts underneath.

  • avatar

    Between this and the Infiniti QX30, it’s safe to say that little good came from the Mercedes/Nissan corporate romance. Seems to me that’s a missed opportunity for Nissan, which could have used some Mercedes know-how with Infiniti.

    • 0 avatar

      There was also that awful Mercedes 2L turbo used in select Q50, but yeah, there were plenty that Nissan could’ve learned from Mercedes regarding premium car building. Not sure how willing Mercedes would’ve been willing to share, but a missed chance regardless.

  • avatar
    Jeff S

    @Art–The problem with selling Ram, F series, and GM trucks in Australia is that none are manufactured with right hand drive and have to be converted to right hand drive aftermarket thus increasing the price making them less competitive. If the Big 2 1/2 were really interested in markets for their trucks outside of North America they would manufacture them in right hand drive. Also the cost of fuel is much higher in Australia along with most trucks sold are diesels in Australia. Not that there isn’t a market for full size American trucks as much as there are some obstacles and the Big 2 1/2 don’t think it is worth it and leave it up to the importers. American based manufacturers have pulled back from much of the global market.

    • 0 avatar
      Art Vandelay

      I don’t disagree. Note that ol’ Al said the Mercedes would outsell the big 3 offerings IN THE UNITED STATES (he was sure it was coming stateside). This was an idiotic arguement.

  • avatar
    Jeff S

    @Art–There could be a decent market for the new Maverick in Australia after reading some of the comments on Ford Authority from those Australians who want the Maverick. The mpgs, price and being compact are positives for marketing the Maverick in a global market. I doubt a diesel would be needed just offer right hand drive.

  • avatar

    Overall I think the Mercedes is the better looking truck. However I’m not too surprised it failed.

  • avatar

    Nobody seems to remember that the Nissan Navarra had a checkered history. Its chassis tended to snap in half — literally.

    So, the re-engineering of the Navarra by Mercedes into the X-Class concentrated on beefing up the frail chassis. No doubt mentioned somewhere in past TTAC posts of four or five years ago, but I can’t be arsed to look it up. Europeans motoring scribes were briefly happy that Mercedes had given the Nissan the once over, but the same chassis upgrades applied to the new Navarra as well. And then, as everyone has noticed, nobody much, as in actual customers, could be bothered to pay way more for the badge-engineered Mercedes. Exit stage left.

  • avatar
    Jeff S

    Agree for now Ford is not able to build enough but by 2024 or 2025 it might be different especially if Ford decides to produce Mavericks in Thailand and other places. I ordered my XLT Maverick hybrid on July 25 and got notified that it will be produced the week of Feb 14. In the long run the wait period would have to be shortened but with a chip shortage for now it is what it is. I don’t remember Big Al saying that this Mercedes pickup would out sell the Big 2 1/2. I do see Ram closing in on Ford and GM truck sales–Ram has really upped their game. If the Maverick is successful long term then GM and Ram will likely come up with their own compact trucks. A compact Toyota pickup with the Prius hybrid drivetrain could be something to watch for.

  • avatar

    I love that all these US IP addresses are pinging MB Brasil’s X Class page now. I wonder what the SEO analysts will make of it! XD

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