Mercedes X-Class secretly developed and fine-tuned in NZ
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The new Mercedes-Benz utes featured in today’s Driven were partially developed and fine-tuned at New Zealand’s Snow Farm vehicle proving ground, high in the mountains between Wanaka and Queenstown.
German engineers and technical experts spent two weeks last year, and three weeks earlier this year, at Snow Farm fine-tuning aspects of the new X-Class models, to go on sale here in April.
The testing programme took place in secret during August this year and last year, as engineers worked on finalising the electronic stability programmes on the up-market utes.
The Mercedes-Benz X-Class programme manager, engineering and overall testing and marketability, Timo Simml told Driven this year’s work involved fine-tuning the ESC system with a new V6 diesel engine and the all-wheel-drive system on a new higher-powered top-of-the range X-Class model which will arrive in New Zealand showrooms around the middle of next year.
Mercedes had two pre-production prototype V6-powered X-Class utes on show at the first drive of all X-Class models in Chile last week.
Simml demonstrated the power and torque of the new engine, which is smoother and even sportier than the four-cylinder models arriving in April.
He took Driven for an ultra-fast run over a windy mountain-top road in the Andes, north-east of the Chilean capital Santiago.
The new engine is smoother than the Nissan engines powering the first X-Class models. The initial pedal response is quicker as the seven-speed automatic gearbox powers through the gears.
The new V6 models handle more like a sporty performance sedan than the traditional ute.
Because the models were prototypes, we weren’t allowed to drive them. However the ride around twisty turns and up steep inclines showed how thrilling yet stable a sporty upmarket pick-up can be.
Simml said the work done at -5C at Snow Farm had helped produce the models’ better handling and driveability.