The Land Rover legacy runs a strong line down a narrow (and highly-prohibitive) vehicle class that, to date has been highly monopolized. But in a retail climate where luxury buyers are catching the “overlander” bug, manufacturers are aptly adjusting to the shift with premium offerings fit for only the stateliest of nomad adventuring.
We’re seeing more and more adventure-worthy packages rolling off of domestic assembly lines almost by the day – the new Ford Ranger is making its debut under the guise of the ultimate adventure machine, packing five pounds worth of options into a four-pound package. But can Mercedes successfully pull off the “overlander” package and still successfully compete with all of the entry-level contenders? After all, it’s extremely prohibitive price tag places it out of reach for many prospective buyers – and we all know it’s nothing more than polish and elbow grease on a Nissan Frontier. Is it even worth it?
The answer will ultimately depend on the end user. The fully-loaded Mercedes X-Class camper costs over $200,000, according to Motor1. That, in itself, automatically bars Mercedes from over 90 percent of the overlanding market. Can a sliver of the market share really be enough to sustain this specialty model? Mercedes thinks so; and here’s why.
The machine is lustfully crafted, in typical Mercedes fashion, with the finest materials the senses can perceive. Are they top notch? They look like it — with a retro twist. But the utilitarian furnishings won't leave you missing "luxury" one bit; a canvasing array of stainless accents throughout the package insinuates enduring durability — even the angular geometry of the living quarters screams “Power to the Nomad.” There’s no doubt, it’s a gorgeous offering — and a very nice directional shift from the more common "piggyback" style campers you'll find elsewhere.
Nobody questions the impressive nature of the peripheral details — after all, it’s sitting on a Mercedes platform. The topic on everybody’s mind tends to inevitably shift to the ever-important drivetrain details. The only gasoline burner in the X-Class lineup is the X200. It’s a 165hp trail-trotter with 176ft/lbs of torque to best the underlying terrain. You can delegate torque vectoring duties to either a manual six-speed or an automatic seven-speed transmission, and a part-time four-wheel drivetrain keeps you rolling.
Overall, the X-Class is 2.5” wider than the Frontier, and despite the completely-reworked set of non-interchangeable body panels and “minor” aesthetic differences, the undeniable similarities between the X-Class Mercedes and the F-Alpha Nissan platform have many critics saying Nissan over and over, before they even get close to it.
If the Mercedes/Matzker overlander happens to surmount a financial impossibility for you, other 3rd party manufacturers are already on board pumping out “cheaper,” piggyback-style campers as an alternative to the Matzker sleeper found on the mini-overlander. (Plus, you can always just buy a Frontier.) Will the Matzker camper prevail in the wild? That sure looks to be the case — if you can afford it.