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Mercedes-Benz's first attempt at a pickup does a good job of blurring the lines between workhorse and plush SUV

Our Verdict

Mercedes-Benz X-Class road test review hero front

A luxury pick-up seems far-fetched but has Mercedes tapped into a lucrative niche?

30 October 2017

What is it?

This is the Mercedes-Benz X-Class, the pickup truck that everyone is going to want. Luxury pickup trucks have taken Europe by storm and nowhere more so than in the UK, where sales this year will likely top 55,000 - a 15% increase on 2016.

The Ford Ranger is the market leader, but the Volkswagen Amarok is the real rival to the X-Class at the highest end of the market.

Jointly developed with Renault-Nissan, the X-Class is based on the Nissan Navara and next year’s Renault Alaskan, but it’s a loose connection and a partnership that Mercedes has taken great lengths to make its mark on.

While the form may appear familiar, exterior body panels actually share just a few common elements with the Navara. And the inside is almost unrecognisable. Power does come from a shared Renault-built 2.3-litre four-cylinder turbo diesel engine with two outputs – the single-turbo 161bhp X220d and the twin-turbo 187bhp X250d.

A 163bhp petrol engine will be launched in some markets, but the powertrain that should propel the X-Class to the top of the pack is a 255bhp, 542lb ft V6 diesel that will be released in mid-2018.

For now, the X220d gets a six-speed manual transmission as standard, while the X250d receives a seven-speed auto. Both get selectable four-wheel drive, but next year’s V6 will have permanent four-wheel drive and a revised seven-speed automatic gearbox. All models get a low-range gearbox with the option of a locking differential.

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The X-Class can tow a 3.5-tonne trailer and transport a maximum load of 1,067kg in a load bed measuring 1587mm by 1560mm.

What's it like?

The lifestyle pickup segment is closing the gap on the SUV market and the X-Class is the vehicle setting the standard.

The entry-level X-Class Pure trim is a stripped-down, minimalist work model – it will therefore be an uncommon sight in the UK. More popular will be the Progressive trim, which adds colour-matched bumpers and alloy wheels, as well as chrome-look surrounds to parts of the dash. The top Power trim sets the X-Class out as a premium pickup, with leather steering wheel and seats, as well as smart leather-covered dash. LED high-performance headlights and rear lights also feature, along with keyless go, 18in alloys and eight-way electrically adjustable front seats.

The X-Class's interior is smarter than the more utilitarian Amarok, but could nevertheless still do with higher-grade plastics on the lower parts of the dash to make the pickup a truly premium commercial vehicle.

Much is made of the 7in infotainment screen that is standard on all models. Its central position above the X-styled air vents – which are pleasingly springy to the touch – draws your attention to the neat media controls. Mercedes says its aim was to develop the parts of the Navara that you see, touch and feel to make them more befitting of the X-Class. The top half of the dash certainly achieves this but the plastic surrounds to the transmission housing and air conditioning control panel don’t convey the same quality.

One of the key changes Mercedes has made to enhance the quality feel of the X-Class is with greater sound-deadening to mask what is otherwise a fairly coarse commercial vehicle engine.

Of the power outputs currently available, the X250d is certainly the better matched of the two, with the X220d feeling slightly underpowered even in an unladen vehicle. For highway driving, where the X-Class will likely spend much of its time, 187bhp is sufficient and, with the seven-speed automatic gearbox, it feels every bit the capable, comfortable cruiser.

The hydraulic steering is unusually light for a commercial vehicle – another indication of the softer target market – and is initially quite unresponsive and slow. This, however, is not a negative characteristic and actually benefits the X-Class while off-road.

Multilink coil spring suspension front and rear give the X-Class a far more comfortable ride compared with its leaf-sprung rivals and, while driving at speed over rough gravel tracks you’d think the X-Class is a mid-range SUV rather than a ladder frame chassis working vehicle. It’s the wider front and rear track, now 1632mm and 1625mm respectively, that really contributes most to the dynamics of the truck generating even greater grip levels compared with the Navara.

Should I buy one?

The X-Class is the closet pickup yet to blend working abilities with car-like comfort. More could undoubtedly have been done to push its premium aspirations, but Mercedes has styled and honed it sufficiently to differentiate it from the Navara.

Although priced from £27,310 (excluding VAT, as it’s a commercial vehicle) for an X-Class Pure, the more representative price for the well-specced Power trim is £34,100 (nearly £41,000 including VAT), which makes it £3,600 more than a similar Volkswagen Amarok and £6,500 more than a Navara.

Of course, the X250d is only the beginning of the story; the main event will be the X350d V6. Only then will the X-Class truly come into its own.

George Barrow

Mercedes-Benz X-Class X250d 4Matic Power

Where Santiago, Chile; On sale Now; Price £40,920; Engine 4 cyls, 2298cc, turbocharged diesel; Power 187bhp at 3750rpm; Torque 332lb ft at 1500-2500rpm; Gearbox 7-spd automatic; Kerbweight 2234kg; Top speed 112mph; 0-62mph 11.8sec; Fuel economy 36.7mpg ; CO2 rating 207g/km; Rivals Volkswagen Amarok, Nissan Navara, Ford Ranger

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Comments
23

30 October 2017

Come on Mercedes. Just who are you trying to fool? Slapping on a MB badge on a Nissan Nivarra does not make it a halo car. With such a horrendous price you will be lucky to sell twenty - perhaps to the mentally deranged. How far Mercedes has Fallen....

30 October 2017
FRI2 wrote:

Come on Mercedes. Just who are you trying to fool? Slapping on a MB badge on a Nissan Nivarra does not make it a halo car. With such a horrendous price you will be lucky to sell twenty - perhaps to the mentally deranged. How far Mercedes has Fallen....

...apply for a job as their new head of product strategy? It's clear that you are far more capable than the present one.

Also, isn't extraordinary how often mentally deranged people have more money than you?

2 November 2017
beechie][quote=FRI2 wrote:

Blah, blah, rubbish, rubbish... isn't extraordinary how often mentally deranged people have more money than you?

 

Do you often judge one's intellectual acumen by their monetary wealth?

 

You are a sad man.

30 October 2017

Fugly

30 October 2017

A word of advice to any UK 'urban families' considering this as their next car: no. You won't be able to drive it, you'll look ridiculous and all your neighbours will despise you.

30 October 2017

..find another builder, you're being ripped off.

31 October 2017
Will86 wrote:

..find another builder, you're being ripped off.

Touche....

30 October 2017

I don't really get why so many people seem to want to pretend they're builders, but if you're dead set on one of these pickups surely something more honest like a Ranger, Navara or L200 is a better bet. This really does look odd with its Mercedes front end, almost like a joke vehicle, and the interior looks very out of place.

30 October 2017
catnip wrote:

I don't really get why so many people seem to want to pretend they're builders, but if you're dead set on one of these pickups surely something more honest like a Ranger, Navara or L200 is a better bet. This really does look odd with its Mercedes front end, almost like a joke vehicle, and the interior looks very out of place.

Not sure they are pretending to be builders.  Just that there are tax advantages to having a 'commercial' vehicle.  And you are right, it is like someone has glued the nose of a Merc Vito to a Nissan Navaro!  

31 October 2017

Since you say the X220D feels underpowered even when unladen, what are you referring to when you say the X can tow 3..5 tons?  I really don’t see four stars here.  This is not a workhorse, it’s a glamping lifestyle vehicle for people who already have other vehicles.  If MB have done the research, and it makes more money than selling mousetraps, I suppose I the shareholders will be happy.

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