Take a look at the various pick-up offerings on the market and there are some pretty well established names in there. Cars like the Mitsubishi L200, Ford Ranger and Nissan Navara, cars that are rugged and practical and while some of the older versions have been pretty utilitarian and rough around the edges, the latest offerings have proved more car-like than ever before.
But there’s never been an upper tier to the pick-up market though, that is until now, as Mercedes Benz has decided to join the party with this, the X-Class. It’s designed to be a more stylish, more premium offering to the sector, while still being able to cope with any of the off-roading or load lugging demands.
On the road
Whisper this in Germany, but when you strip the X-Class right down, what you’re left with is the underpinnings of the Nissan Navara. That means it uses the same ladder frame chassis and multi-link rear suspension. However, Mercedes makes it very clear that it’s made huge steps to improve the chassis and suspension to make it even more car-like than the competition.
The suspension in the Navara was already pretty impressive for a pick-up and Mercedes has widened the track, strengthened it and retuned the suspension. It feels pretty composed through the corners, with little body lean, and the steering is responsive and inspires confidence. The only concern we’d raise is that the ride can be a little fidgety over rough surfaces, but regardless, this is that afflictss afflicts most of the competition too.
As it stands there are only two four cylinder diesel engines on offer, both of which we’ve seen in the Nisan Navara. The X220 is powered by a 2.3 litre turbo diesel which pumps out 161bhp, while the X250 adds a two stage turbo charger which increases power to 187bhp. An X350 with a 3.0-litre V6 diesel is also to be added to the line-up.
It’s not what you’d call quick, the X220 will do 0-60 in nearly 13 seconds and 11.8 seconds in the X250. That translates to a driving experience that’s a bit more sluggish during more spirited driving. But really, this isn’t a car you’re going to buy if you want driving thrills, Mercedes has already got that base covered.
Fuel economy isn’t as healthy as the Navara it’s based on, this is largely because the it’s about 227kg heavier than the Nissan. The X220d will average a combined average fuel economy of 37.2 mpg, which is just over 44mpg in Navara guise. The X 250 will average 35.8mpg, 5mpg less than the equivalent Nissan pick up. Some of the extra weight is as a result of additional soundproofing, which makes the X-Class one of, if not the most refined pick up on the market.
It’s also got all the off-roading tech you could possibly need too, including a selectable 4×4 system with low range gear box and hill descent control. It also has an optional 360 degree camera which helps avoiding obstacles too. For anyone who’s really going to use the off-roading ability to its limit, there’s also a locking diff too for the rear axle and an optional 20mm increase in ride height.
In the cabin
Inside, the cabin definitely has a more premium feel to it over its competition. Yes, there are still some scratchy plastics on show, but it’s in no way off putting. There are elements of the interior that have been carried over from the passenger cars which is no bad thing. It features this 7-inch tablet sized infotainment system that sits at the top of the centre console, and it’s controlled via a rotary dial by the handbrake. However, it isn’t particularly intuitive and will take some getting used to.
There are some other neat touches in too, like these stylish air vents and instrument panels and the comfortable seats are fully adjustable, although the steering is only adjustable for height. One feature that I really don’t like though is that the high beam, wipers and indicators are all operated on one stalk rather than separating them onto two. It’s frustrating, especially if you’re used to driving other vehicles that have two stalks.
The X-Class is only available as a double cab, there’s no single cab option, which means you’ll always have space in the back for some extra crew, and they won’t be complaining about space in the back. There’s a decent amount of head and leg room, but, as with most pick ups, you really need to climb into the back because of the ride height.
One of the reasons Mercedes opted to use the Nissan as a floorplan for the X-Class must have been because it’s one of the biggest pickups you can buy. And this is bigger still, with a load bay that’s 1587mm long and 1569mm wide, and it has a usable 1087kg maximum payload, making it a perfectly usable workhorse.
There’s a lot to like about the X-Class, it’s spacious, capable both on road and off it and its got a cabin built to the standards we’d expect of Mercedes. The only question mark we’d raise is that with the cheapest version starting at over thirty two thousand pounds, it’s not the cheapest offering out there.
December 7, 2018