The shark-finn antenna above the rear window is barely visible on the low-resolution pictures of the ute, camouflaged to hide a Benz design cue here and there.
But the antenna is there all right, sitting between the two roof rails and arrowed in red in two of the pictures on this page.
It replaces the aerial on the premium Navara and shows that while this example is a development mule, the exterior – and interior – will get the full Benz makeover to make it stand apart from the opposition.
What’s curious about these pictures is that the camouflage doesn’t hide the fact that it’s largely the Navara, so Benz must be testing stuff that isn’t visible, like interior technology, or the suspension set-up.
Why? Because Benz chief designer Gorden Wagener has already said that the design of its ute has been signed off and locked in. It is therefore likely that Benz is testing it away from prying cameras.
European agency Automedia says the Benz ute will be previewed by a concept at the Paris motor show in October, ahead of the production model from Benz’s Spanish and Argentinian plants in 2017. It will be marketed through the company’s van division.
The carmaker is already describing it as the “world’s safest ute”. Powering most models is likely to be the 2.1-litre turbo-diesel, used in a number of Benz cars and SUVs and good for 500Nm, depending on tune.
But Automedia believes a Benz V6 diesel, perhaps the 200kW/600Nm 3.0-litre unit from the G-Class SUV, will be in the premium model with a full leather, wood and brushed aluminium interior.
Inside, the ute is expected to pick up design details from the V-Class van, including a colour LCD screen and rotary dial for the ‘Comand’ multi-media system.
Will there be an AMG version? Not likely under the bonnet, says Automedia, but perhaps a bodykit for more on-road presence and suspension changes to improve roadholding.