In March 2015, Mercedes confirmed that work had begun on the brand’s first ever pickup truck, to be launched by the end of the decade. Now spyshots have revealed an early test mule of Merc’s upcoming mid-size, premium-brand ute, expected to be badged the GLT.
Erm – that’s a Nissan. Merc’s new one-tonne pickup project has come to life thanks to a joint technical partnership with Nissan/Infiniti. Consequently, it will be closely related to the recently launched Nissan NP300 Navara. The most obvious clues are those widened wheelarch stick-ons, as it’s understood that the Merc will have a wider track than the Navara.
While the GLT will share much of its hardware with the Nissan, including its ladder chassis, axles and essential structure, it will look completely different, with its own body style hinted at in the rendering officially released by Mercedes. It will also get a bespoke interior and its own range of engines and gearboxes, expected to include four- and six-cylinder petrols and diesels, six-speed manual and seven-speed autos, and 4Matic-branded four-wheel drive. The GLT will launch as a four-door double cab.
Carrying the oddly amusing internal codenam ‘Andrew’, the pickup will be offered in markets in Europe, Australia, South Africa and South America, and is expected to be built in both Europe and Argentina. ‘We are not going to develop a fat cowboy truck for North America,’ says Volker Mornhinweg, the man in charge of the project. ‘After all, the big three - Ford, GM/GMC and Ram - already own about 90% of that market which typically absorbs in excess of two million units per year.
‘In this cut-throat environment, newcomers like us would invariably fight an arduous uphill battle. That´s why our focus is on a smaller and lighter pick-up truck which is already perceived as premium product in South-America, Africa or the Middle East.’ The GLT will face up to the likes of the VW Amarok, as well as hardy pickup perennials such as the big-selling Toyota Hilux and Ford Ranger. Mercedes’ projected sales figures are understood to be cautiously modest in the short term.
*Spy pics courtesy of our sister publication in the UK