A Nissan sports ute won’t get a lusty German heart.
The Ford Ranger Raptor has put ute players on edge, as the Blue Oval’s skirmish into a new niche is proving to be rather desirable. Toyota has already responded by fielding some special editions of the Hilux that it reckons will maintain the favour it already has in the market, while Nissan’s looking to refine its Navara ute and perhaps make a performance edition out of it.
When news first broke that Nissan was looking to respond to the Ranger Raptor, it didn’t take long before the rumours began circulating that they’d tap their newfound German friends in Mercedes-Benz for access to their 3.0-litre V6 turbodiesel. With a decent bit more grunt than the 4-pot oiler they have in the Navara range, and more refinement to boot, it was a pretty logical assumption that they’d do just that, especially since they know that engine already fits on the platform (as evidenced by the Mercedes-Benz X350d).
However, Mercedes-Benz is highly-protective of its V6 turbodiesel, an important point of differentiation for the German marque’s X-Class ute when compared to its Japanese cousin. Mercedes-Benz Vans Australia product manager Scott Williams spoke to Go Auto at the launch of the X-Class in Tasmania and ensured that the rumour mill would stop once and for all:
“They will not ever get the V6.” — Scott Williams, Product Manager (X-Class), Mercedes-Benz Vans Australia/New Zealand
Well that settles that, then.
Williams was far from done talking, though. Quite a bit of the X-Class launch event appeared to have been designed to put Mercedes’ new ute as far away from the Navara as possible, and Williams did his bit to ensure that rhetoric was repeated too.
“This is no badge-engineered Navara like the Renault Alaskan is, for example. This vehicle is wider by 50mm, and the tracks are 70mm wider. What does that mean? It effectively means every panel has to be different to match, from the front, side, glass areas… all unique to the X-Class. You would think all those little parts wouldn’t add up, but it does. All that engineering work… The result is chalk and cheese.” — Scott Williams, Product Manager (X-Class), Mercedes-Benz Vans Australia/New Zealand
In our review of the Mercedes-Benz X-Class, we noted that comparing the German car to the Japanese one upon which is built is nearly entirely unfair. In fact, it feels far more refined and sophisticated to drive and travel in than the most popular Asian utes, and sits slightly ahead of the Volkswagen Amarok in terms of the overall experience. And you get a three-pointed star on the grille.