Is Stuttgart’s decision to build a pick-up a shrewd one? We’re about to find out as we add the X-Class to our long-term fleet

Our Verdict

Mercedes-Benz X-Class

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

Steve Cropley Autocar
14 June 2018

Why we’re running it: To find out why UK drivers are turning to pick-ups in increasing numbers, and to determine whether the X-Class is as refined to live with as Merc’s cars

Month 1 - Specs

Life with a Mercedes-Benz X-Class: Month 1

Welcoming the X-Class to the fleet - 23rd May 2018

It’s supposed to be about money. The reason you see the population of four-door, extended-cab, one-tonne pick-ups on our roads swelling so fast is widely claimed to be because they’re as cheap to run, from a benefit-in-kind (BIK) point of view, as company vehicles.

However, the underlying reason seems to be that they look pretty cool, at least to some of us, and I’m among the supporters.

That, and a curiosity to find out about this new vehicle breed, currently being ever more enthusiastically touted by Ford, Mitsubishi, Nissan, Volkswagen, Ssangyong and now Mercedes, is behind our decision to adopt one.

The X-Class comes about as a result of a cooperation with Nissan (there’s a lot of Navara under it) but it’s also very much its own vehicle, what with multi-link rear suspension, an all-Merc interior, a lot of styling changes, a higher price than the Nissan and an extra-chunky three-pointed star grille that leaves no one in doubt as to which showroom this came from.

Let’s talk money. The situation is that while ordinary vehicles attract rising rates of BIK taxation according to purchase price and CO2 output, light commercial vehicles (which must be rated above one tonne of carrying capacity) attract a lower charge which is fixed.

If you’re a 40% tax payer, the annual difference in tax between, say, a similarly priced Land Rover Discovery Sport and our £39,780 X-Class could be more than £1600, so it definitely matters.

The X-Class is a comparatively new arrival, and fits into a ‘premium’ slot roughly £5000 above the lesser marques. You still get a lot of truck for your money: from a £34k base, we added options that took ours to just short of £40k.

Our additional kit includes an all-round camera, Mercedes-Benz’s comprehensive Comand nav and audio package (which still includes a CD player for us Luddites) plus stuff like side-steps, roof bars, chrome underbits front and rear and a chrome roll-over bar so huge it looks as if you could connect the whole machine to a sky hook.

Ours is the Power model. There are cheaper Pure and Progressive trim levels with smaller wheels, painted bumpers and less equipment, but as soon as we started enquiring, it became clear that UK buyers like the niceties such as our car’s 18in alloys, standard Merc 7-speed automatic transmission, various chrome body bits, folding mirrors, rain sensing wipers and top-spec climate control.

We decided to collect the pick-up from a dealership, choosing a new Merc place, Rygor Commercials in Gloucester, which was as classy as any new car dealership. We met two of the management team, Dominic Ilbury and Richard Morrissey, who unveiled our gleaming white machine (a nice touch). Dominic talked me through the controls and switches, very logically Mercedes.

Bearing in mind I’d never driven one of these big pick-ups before, the initial driving experience was surprisingly easy and reassuring. It felt like one of the taller SUVs, with a comfortable and well-equipped interior to match.

 

 

The X-Class will fit the average covered or underground car park and it’s not excessively wide, either. Even the wheelbase is only 233mm (less than a foot) longer than a Land Rover Discovery. The main thing you’ve got to cope with is the 5340mm overall length, yet even that isn’t turning out to be the bugbear I thought it might be.

The Big X is only a few inches longer than the current crop of long-wheelbase luxury saloons (Jaguar’s XJ is typical at 5255mm). Even the turning circle’s just about okay.

The X-Class has a Nissan-Renault-sourced 2.3-litre four-cylinder engine that I reckoned might be a bit agricultural, but it’s a twin-turbo unit with 187bhp on tap, and at anything more than idle it’s torquey, commendably quiet and doesn’t vibrate more than any four-pot car.

In fact, one thing I’ve quickly come to depend on from the X-Class is smooth, quiet progress. The silky automatic ’box works perfectly with this engine, cruising like a saloon on motorways. It’ll even bolt quite well out of roundabouts if you insist, though acceleration times are modest.

The steering and handling take some getting used to. This is a body-on-frame machine, so there are body tremors over bumps you don’t expect at first. It’s light over the rear end, too, so even with the independent rear working well, there’s still an occasional tendency to wheel hop.

On the other hand, with such a long wheelbase, the X-Class does stay very flat. It rides bumps very quietly. The steering is light and there’s very little lost motion at the straight-ahead, but you can’t help thinking the capability of the rest of the chassis (it grips quite well and resists leaning) would benefit from faster steering around the centre.

Driving my first 1000 miles in the X-Class has been an entirely pleasant experience, and easier than I expected, what with the decent driving characteristics, a 530-mile touring range, fuel consumption running around 36-38mpg and a quiet mechanical package.

The one thing I’m not yet used to is the feeling of going places in a vehicle that seems needlessly vast. But to judge by the number of my four-cab fellows on the road, I’ll soon get over it.

Second Opinion

It feels a bit vast for the parking spaces in the London street I live in. I don’t think I could own one for that reason alone. But it’s easier to drive than you think, and more pleasant, because it’s quiet. And I suspect we’ll use that inviting-looking load bay as a photographer’s shooting platform before too long…

Stan Papior

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Mercedes-Benz X-Class X250D 4MATIC specification

Specs: Price New £34,100 Price as tested: £39,780 Options: metallic paint £510, headliner £215, Comand infotainment £2225, Style package £1345, parking package with 360deg camera £915, winter package (inc heated seats) £340, towbar connections £130

Test Data: Engine 4cyl, 2,298cc, twin-turbocharged diesel Power 187bhp at 3750rpm Torque 295lb ft at 1500-2500rpm Top speed 109mph 0-62mph 11.8sec Claimed fuel economy 35.8mpg Test fuel economy 36.5mpg CO2 207g/km Faults None Expenses None

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Join the debate

Comments
12

14 June 2018

If you live on a farm, one of these would be perfect. For the rest of us... have a word with yourself.

15 June 2018
They're the best.

14 June 2018
Looking at the cutaway picture of the rear end of this vehicle .... why do journo's insist on regurgitating the press release? A live axle with coil springs and some additional locating links is still a live axle.

15 June 2018

I came here to post the same thing. Better than leaf springs only, but still a live axle with all the unspung weight that entails, (but also zero camber change under load).

15 June 2018
concinnity wrote:

I came here to post the same thing. Better than leaf springs only, but still a live axle with all the unspung weight that entails, (but also zero camber change under load).

Yeah and Steve Cropley makes out the rear suspension ois Meredes only when its EXACTLY the same as the Nissan. Lets face this is a Navarra with some styling tweeks and Merc 6 cylinder diesels.

XXXX just went POP.

14 June 2018

Is it worth the extra money, or is it just a Navara with a 3 pointed star on the grille?

 

 

14 June 2018

Interesting how ' the wheelbase is only 233mm (less than a foot) longer than a Land Rover Discovery' and  'The Big X is only a few inches longer than the current crop of long-wheelbase luxury saloons' yet the same journalists will make a huge deal the extra space provided by one model being 40mm longer than another in the same class etc.

One thing I can never understand with pickups is the claim of practicality. Anything in the bed is open to the elements and theives, unless you stick a box on the back, at which point you may as well as have bought a van.

14 June 2018

So Mercedes Benz decided to produce a pick-up,really??????????? what they've really done is add a few fancy touches and a three pointed star on a Nissan Navara and call it the X-Class. To add insult to injury it's not even built by Mercedes  but at the Nissan factory along side the equally badge engineered Renualt Alaskan, this is no more a premium product than the Renualt Kangoo based Mercedes Citan, this is nothing special just a cynical marketing trick by Mercedes and I wouldn't be surprised if it goes the same way as the Lincoln Blackwood which was a Ford F-150 with a luxury interior, a Lincoln grille and a fancy cargo area, this lasted just over a year  before getting canned, I reckon the X-Class will go the same way

15 June 2018
ianp55 wrote:

So Mercedes Benz decided to produce a pick-up,really??????????? what they've really done is add a few fancy touches and a three pointed star on a Nissan Navara and call it the X-Class. To add insult to injury it's not even built by Mercedes  but at the Nissan factory along side the equally badge engineered Renualt Alaskan, this is no more a premium product than the Renualt Kangoo based Mercedes Citan, this is nothing special just a cynical marketing trick by Mercedes and I wouldn't be surprised if it goes the same way as the Lincoln Blackwood which was a Ford F-150 with a luxury interior, a Lincoln grille and a fancy cargo area, this lasted just over a year  before getting canned, I reckon the X-Class will go the same way

Repeated for emphasis!

15 June 2018

Provided you can deal with the size, Pickups are fantastically versatile vehicles.

That said, I think there is still a bit of catching up to do, and a place for a more premium product than the X-Class which is still basically a Navara. I imagine its just becuase of cost, but air suspension really should be an option on some of these higher end trucks. I know on american trucks like the Dodge Ram its pretty standard and transforms the ride and gets rid of that pickup truck shudder and bounce.

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