Mercedes X-Class vs BMW Pickup
Let the speculation begin!
Mercedes has just released its X-Class concept pickup and the frenzy is growing strong. Markets around the world are set to get this “urban lifestyle pickup,” save for North America. Regardless, the Mercedes pickup will undoubtedly cause huge waves in the segment, likely spawning competition from other luxury automakers, including BMW.
We created a rendering of a BMW pickup a few months before the X-Class Concept’s launch. It was based in pure speculation on what BMW could possibly come up with for its first luxury truck. Unlike the Mercedes, we figured the BMW would utilize a unibody architecture shared with the X5 crossover. Luxury and comfort being first, a rough-riding ladder frame truck wouldn’t be the first choice for engineers, right? Mercedes obviously doesn’t think so, but hey, BMW might want to cater to a different, more refined audience who aren’t towing 7,000 pounds or hauling a metric ton.
Both trucks will definitely be big departures from the Toyota Hiluxs and Ford Rangers of the world, and Mercedes says it’s catering to Gen Xers who have previously never considered buying a pickup. BMW would likely follow that direction, leaving the commercial and agricultural sales to the segment stalwarts.
Despite the two trucks (theoretically) going after the same audience, there will undoubtedly be differences. Let’s explore that theoretical world between the Mercedes X-Class Concept and a BMW pickup that doesn’t yet exist.
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Regardless of what each truck will look like in production form, both will carry their respective brands’ characteristic shapes. The Mercedes X-Class already displays this, showing some very familiar styling cues mixed with some new design features. The BMW, likewise, will certainly have the kidney bean grill and quad-beam headlights – items that have been a staple of BMW design for decades.
Well, we have a pretty solid idea of what Mercedes has up its design sleeve. The X-Class Concept’s design theme will likely make production – at least from the C-pillar forward. The cargo bed and rear end, however, will definitely get a more traditional appearance before rolling down assembly lines in late 2017. The front end will likely have a couple variations. The concept’s front clip likely shows the range-topping model. Lower trims will likely get a less AMG-ish appearance.
It’s unknown if Mercedes will actually pursue the more rugged version of the X-Class concept, known as the Powerful Adventurer. Its 37-inch tires, tall suspension, and built-in recovery winches don’t seem like candidates for production. Nevertheless, Mercedes could surprise us.
We said in our full write-up regarding the BMW pickup, that the automaker will likely build its pickup off the same platform as the X5 SUV. This starts defining what the exterior might look like. Up front, the X5-turned-pickup would have the then-current face of the X5, or at least something similar to it, while keeping the same bones. Things like the windshield and doors would likely transfer over unchanged.
Like the current Honda Ridgeline, the BMW pickup would have a single unibody platform underpinning the cab and bed, yet have visually separate panels. The cargo box would look separate, but would really be an integral part of the frame structure. BMW is also far less likely to go all-out off-roader like the Mercedes Powerful Adventurer. Because of this, the truck would have more street biased tires, lower approach and departure angles, and a slightly lower stance.
Of course, all of this is pure speculation on our part, but it would make sense for BMW to target driving pleasure over outright utilitarianism. The Ultimate Driving Pickup Machine? That one’s free, BMW.
Both trucks would undoubtedly aim for luxury and comfort, adding all the latest tech gadgetry and convenience features. The Mercedes X-Class Concept already shows what Mercedes is planning with its interior styling and features. This design is also likely to be spread around the Mercedes SUV lineup as well, hopefully at least with the GLS. There are a few Nissan bits remaining, like the HVAC controls and a few random buttons scattered about. Nevertheless, replacing these with Mercedes parts should be an easy fix before production begins.
The BMW pickup would again reach into the X5’s parts bin. The truck would borrow the well-appointed dash and interior layout from the hot-selling SUV. Granted, the X5 might have another refresh under its belt by the time BMW debuts its rumored pickup. In that case, expect that interior update to swing to the truck side, too.
Outside the U.S., diesels reign supreme, so both trucks would have (at least optionally) a turbodiesel. Mercedes has already confirmed its X-Class will have a V-6 turbodiesel as its range-topping powertrain. No other details have been given, but we expect this engine to be rather peppy yet efficient. It will likely come mated to Mercedes’ seven-speed automatic transmission. Other engine choices will likely include turbocharged four-cylinder gasoline engines and perhaps a gasoline V-6.
The BMW pickup could avail of the automaker’s wide range of engines offered in the X5. There’s the 3.0-liter turbocharged inline six-cylinder, the 3.0-liter inline-six turbodiesel, the 4.4-liter turbo V-8, and the 2.0-liter turbocharged four-cylinder with its lithium-ion electric motor. That last one belongs to the X5 xDrive40e, BMW’s plug-in hybrid SUV.
We’d love to see BMW offer the V-8 as the truck’s performance option, perhaps to combat Mercedes’ eventual X-Class AMG variant. BMW wouldn’t likely offer an M version of the pickup, but perhaps a M Sport. Then again, stranger things have happened. BMW’s eight-speed automatic would likely be the only transmission option, the same as BMW’s xDrive AWD system.
As for the Mercedes’ AWD system, the automaker stated the X-Class will come with a permanent AWD system, yet the photos of the X-Class’ interior shows a Nissan parts-bin 4WD switch for a part-time system. If the X-Class were to adopt Nissan’s part-time 4WD equipment, the pickup would certainly be more off-road dedicated than with a permanent AWD system, which generally is more for bad weather and other on-road conditions.
Mercedes is quite likely going to start a wildfire in the mid-size pickup category. The X-Class will probably catch the eye of wealthy buyers caught up in the current pickup, SUV, and crossover craze. The Benz will make a great median point between a dedicated pickup and a dedicated luxury SUV. It could also turn into a fashion statement, just as full-size pickups are in the U.S.
As for BMW, the automaker has been very quiet on its future plans. It was BMW Australia’s Managing Direct, Mac Werner, who sparked the possibility for BMW. “Never say never,” he told journalist at an event when poked about a BMW pickup. What’s more, BMW has been launching models left and right, adding variants of current models, and expanding is business like crazy over the last five year. Adding a pickup doesn’t seem that outlandish – especially after the FWD 2-Series Active Tourer.
No matter what transpires with BMW, the Mercedes pickup will make a huge splash in the mid-size category. It’s just too bad Benz isn’t willing to enter the North American market. Hopefully that will change, forcing BMW’s hand (and any other automaker with a luxury truck on the way) to enter the American pickup scene.
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