Tested WALES, 15.12.17 On sale NOW Price £34,100 (excl. VAT)
The brand’s new premium pick-up is unsurprisingly not your typical hay-bale lugger
There was a time when the average pick-up truck was uncomfortable, smelly and a bit ragged around the edges. There was room for two in the cab plus a bale of hay and the obligatory Border collie riding shotgun. Now manufacturers are producing more luxurious double-cab examples and they’re proving popular, selling at the rate of more than 50,000 per year in the UK.
The X-Class is the latest arrival and with it Mercedes-Benz is aiming to appeal to buyers looking for even more premium cachet than is offered by the highly specced pick-ups that currently rule this market segment.
A cargo payload of 1092kg qualifies this crew-cab pick-up as a light commercial vehicle, so business users can reclaim the VAT. Benefit-in-kind taxation is much lower than that of a company car too, and set at a fixed rate rather than on a sliding scale based on CO2 emissions.
The X-Class is based on the underpinnings of the Nissan Navara, including the ladder chassis, engine, drivetrain and suspension with solid rear axle. Trim levels are Pure, Progressive or the highest specification, Power, which Mercedes expects to be the biggest seller. Like the Navara, rear-wheel drive is the default, with four-wheel drive manually selectable.
The upper body is all new, drawing on Mercedes’ SUV design language. It’s 50mm wider than that of the Navara, with which it shares only the radio antenna and door handles. The track is 70mm wider and X-Class customers can opt for a 20mm lower ride height. The Power version rides on 18in alloy wheels while the lower echelons both get 17in.
There’s a choice of 161bhp X220d or 187bhp X250d four-cylinder Nissan diesels at launch and they will be joined by the 255bhp X350d Mercedes 3.0-litre V6 engine in the summer. The performance of the four-pot X250d is acceptable, although overtakes need some planning. Transmissions on offer are a six-speed manual or, with the more powerful of the two diesels, the option of the seven-speed automatic, tested here. The forthcoming V6 will get the Mercedes full-time four-wheel drive system mated to a nine-speed automatic transmission.
There’s a suite of driver assistance and safety features as standard including autonomous emergency braking and traffic sign recognition. Thus equipped, the X-Class scores 5 stars in Euro NCAP safety tests. Interior quality is a big step up from the Navara, with more comfortable seats and the usual high-quality surface materials and detailing. Only the lower instrument panel is finished in hard plastic and, although not pretty, provides a surface capable of withstanding scuffs. Stowage for small items is scarce, though, with nowhere to put small items like a mobile phone except the door bins.
Mercedes has worked on the acoustic packaging to isolate any engine combustion noise from the occupants’ ears and it’s quiet and refined. Wind and tyre noise at 70mph is impressively low too. Although it has car-like qualities, first-time pick-up drivers will find the handling and steering errs towards the truck-like with some understeer, a hefty feel and a firm ride.
The test car is priced at £34,100 plus VAT, so a retail customer will pay £40,920. Mercedes has taken 1000 orders so far but many potential buyers have indicated they’ll wait for the V6. The price tag for that is bound to be hefty, but the combination of luxury pick-up and sublime V6 diesel should be even more compelling.
An impressive luxury pick-up and as classy as claimed, but what would it be like with a V6 engine and air suspension? JC
Mercedes-Benz X250d 4MATIC Power
Expensive, but raises the bar on commercial vehicle comfort and proves to be capable off-road too
Price £34,100 (exc. VAT)
Engine 4 cyls, 2298cc, diesel
Power 187bhp at 3750rpm
Torque 295lb ft at 1500-2500rpm
Gearbox 7-spd automatic
Kerb weight 2234kg
Top speed 109mph
CO2, tax band 207g/km, 37% (retail)
Rivals Volkswagen Amorak TDI, Ford Ranger