Coming at the end of this year, Mercedes’s posh truck
Touted as a perfect vehicle for both families and ‘rough and ready’ users, the new Mercedes X-Class aims to bring normal car refinement and cabin tech to the pick-up market, at prices starting from £34,500 inc VAT.
Described as “more a lifestyle oriented pick-up, not a basic workhorse”, this Spanish- and Argentinian-built five-seat, four-door crew-cabber has a separate chassis, but it also has coil-sprung double wishbone front suspension and a coil-sprung, five-link live rear axle. Crucially for the leisure end of the market, it has connectivity and safety aids aplenty, and lots of personalisation options. There are three dash finishes, six different upholsteries (including two in leather) and three trim levels.
There’s plenty of mechanical choice too, with four engine options (161bhp/187bhp X220d and X250d diesels with selectable four-wheel drive, a 163bhp petrol engine in some countries, and a 255bhp, 542lb ft V6 diesel with permanent four-wheel drive in mid-2018) and two transmissions (six-speed manual or seven-speed automatic). Every X-Class has low-range gearing and the option of a locking rear axle differential.
The long-travel suspension is claimed to give big wheel articulation and excellent off- and on-road handling and comfort, aided by five driving modes – comfort, ECO, sport, manual and off-road – in the Dynamic Select system.
The X-Class is slightly wider than rivals like the Mitsubishi L200, Toyota Hilux and Nissan Navara, and its wheelbase is the class longest. Like its rivals, the X-Class can carry a little over 1000kg in its 1587mm long, 1560mm wide load bed, and tow up to 3.5 tonnes load – the equivalent of a three-nag horsebox or an eight-metre yacht.
Plenty of thought has gone into load securing and protection, with a wide selection of add-ons like a body-colour rear canopy, plastic load-bed liner, bed-division system, soft and hard tonneau covers, aluminium roll-top cover, 156-litre storage box, running boards, rollover hoop and 3-piece stainless steel engine protector.
Rather more unusual in this sector are the driver aids which include Active Brake Assist, Lane Keeping Assist and Traffic Sign Assist. You can tick boxes for Mercedes’ Comand infotainment and 360-degree cameras. There’s even an app for remotely locating your X-Class and checking its fuel level. The standard of finish in the cab will be another pleasant surprise to many in this market.
We blagged a passenger ride in an X250d automatic over a route that took in mega-steep hills, moguls, boulders, a water splash and, erm, a race track. The X-Class easily dealt with the off-road challenges, charging up silly slopes, dangling its wheels over big drops and tilting at 42 degrees on an earth bank. It will go to 50 degrees without tipping, so they say. 42 was impressive enough. All the while the X-Class displayed a noteworthy sensation of strength and suspension compliance.
Restarting from 0mph on a steep hill was easy too, thanks to the standard hill-holder. Hill descent control makes equally light work of vertiginous drops. Refinement generally attains Mercedes’ goal of a car-type benchmark though the Renault-sourced diesel isn’t as quiet as you might hope under acceleration.
The race track isn’t its natural habitat, obviously, and there’s no shortage of body roll or back-end tyre protest as you approach the limits of grip. It’s all relative, of course: few X-Class drivers would be going at this sort of rate in this sort of environment. On a smooth surface, it’s all under control.
The big question with the X-Class is whether its significant price jump over the Nissan Navara (built alongside it in Spain and Argentina) is justified. For many, the kudos of that star on the grille will be justification enough.