V6 Benz ute on show

The Weekend Post - Motoring - - CRUISE CONTROL -

CASHED-UP tradies have started plac­ing or­ders for the first ever Mercedes-Benz ute a year be­fore it goes on sale and be­fore any­one knows the price.

De­mand in Aus­tralia is so strong, Mercedes-Benz has taken the un­prece­dented step of air­freight­ing a dis­play car Down Un­der to give buy­ers an early pre­view and also get their feed­back on what they want in a work­horse.

While Mercedes is busy re­search­ing fleets and blokes, it is also try­ing to tar­get fe­male buy­ers.

“Utes are be­com­ing gen­der neu­tral,” Mercedes-Benz spokesman David McCarthy said.

“They’re just like an SUV to drive these days. They’re no longer only for tradies,” he said.

Mercedes-Benz Aus­tralia says it has been caught of­f­guard by the de­mand so far ahead of a new car’s show­room ar­rival.

Mercedes has never be­fore brought out a dis­play car a year ahead of the lo­cal launch of a new pro­duc­tion model.

“There are more peo­ple lin­ing up for this ute than any other fu­ture model we’ve re­vealed,” Mr McCarthy said.

Ex­ten­sive re­search among fleet buy­ers in­di­cates the Benz ute won’t only be for the well­heeled.

“While the most in­ter­est from cus­tomers has been in the premium models, there will also be a choice for peo­ple who need a tool-of-trade ve­hi­cle,” Mr McCarthy said.

The Benz ute shares some of its un­der­pin­nings with the Nis­san Navara but will be crammed with Mercedes safety and tech­nol­ogy.

Prices are yet to be con­firmed, but the Benz ute is ex­pected to sit along­side the dearer ver­sions of the Toy­ota HiLux and Ford Ranger utes, which cost in ex­cess of $60,000.

Last month utes filled four of the top 10 sales spots.

Last year the Toy­ota HiLux was the na­tion’s top sell­ing ‘car’ out­right, the first time ever a ute has led the Aus­tralian mar­ket.

The Mercedes ute will fea­ture a V6 diesel en­gine.

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