There’s a new and more luxurious option in the growing 4×4 pick-up market with the arrival of the new Mercedes-Benz X-Class. Michael Moroney took the luxury load carrier for an on and off-road test drive and here he evaluates the luxury appeal.
Mercedes-Benz aims to add more than a touch of luxury to the 4×4 pick-up market with the arrival of the new X-Class at the start of this year. As the growth in pick-up sales accelerates, Mercedes-Benz aims to boost that with a new pick-up that adds German star brand features to widen its appeal.
While the general car market struggled to grow in 2017, the market for 4×4 pick-ups rose by 10%, even if that’s starting from a low base. Ford’s Ranger topped the market and while that’s not the place Mercedes-Benz aims to take on, the new X-Class will compete at the top end of this growing market.
Externally, this Mercedes-Benz pick-up has its own clear identity. The most obvious of these features is the Mercedes-Benz twin-louvre radiator grille, centrally positioned star and honed bonnet and headlamps, extending far into the wings, designed to give the pick-up a distinctly up-market appeal.
Jump into the X-Class and you’ll instantly feel that this new generation of Mercedes-Benz pick-up combines a hint of luxury with practical off-road ability. While the X-Class is manufactured in collaboration with Nissan, the Mercedes-Benz team was adamant that this pick-up has some unique features of its own.
The unique features include the fact that most body panels have a Mercedes-Benz styling input. Park it side by side with the Nissan Navara and only the door design is a replica, as all other panels and wheel designs are different.
On the inside, the Mercedes-Benz design means that the X-Class interior is very similar to that of other Mercedes-Benz models in the range. You clearly feel that your onboard a Mercedes-Benz vehicle, with a brushed metal effect dash and controls laid out in a similar way to many other Mercedes-Benz cars.
Out on the road the driving experience is smoother than many other pick-ups while not really on a par with passenger cars. Make no mistake that it’s still a pick-up and you’ll notice that after you’ve driven over 650km as I did, mainly on the road.
Mercedes-Benz claims that the X-Class has a wider track than the competition, including the Nissan Navara and that its spring and damping system is tuned to deliver Mercedes-Benz levels of comfort. The X-Class is fitted with a multi-link rear suspension with coil springs not leaf springs to help deliver more comfort.
For off-road driving the selectable 4MATIC all-wheel drive with its low-range gearing and optional rear axle differential lock showed its ability to master any terrain. Mercedes-Benz says that a permanent all-wheel drive version will be available next year.
The new X-Class pick-up comes with safety features that include Active Brake Assist, Lane Keeping Assist and Traffic Sign Assist. Billed as the first intelligently connected pickup, ‘Mercedes me’ connect means owners are linked to their X-Class via smart phone at all times.
When you delve under the skin of the X-Class you’ll quickly see the similarities. The new X-Class is powered by the same Renault designed 2.3-litre engine that’s fitted to the Nissan Navara. This engine is available with a choice of two power outputs 163bhp in the single turbocharged X220d, and 190bhp in the biturbo X250d version, matching accurately, Nissan’s Navara performance.
The economy rating is 12.7km/litre (7.9l/100km or 36mpg), which is equivalent to the performance of Ford’s bigger Ranger models. The 80 litre capacity fuel tank includes an AdBlue tank and I was able to achieve an impressive 600km range from the full tank.
Six-speed manual transmission is standard on the more powerful 190bhp X250d 4MATIC version that I had on the road. That gearbox is smooth to use, adding to the luxury feel and easy driving.
I’ve driven the Mercedes-Benz X-Class both on and off the roads and its luxury feel belies its very impressive off-road driving ability. The test version was not fitted with a towbar, so I was unable to challenge its towing ability.
In work terms, higher power X-Class is rated to tow 3.5 tonnes with a payload capacity of over 1 tonne in the pick-up area that’s slightly longer than the competition.
It is the only mid-size pick-up equipped with lighting in the cargo area as standard, while the load bed is designed wide enough to fit a Euro-pallet between the wheel arches, it is slightly narrower than that of the wide Volkswagen Amarok. The test X-Class was fitted with a lockable cover that was a little finicky to use.
The Mercedes-Benz X-Class is pitched at a more luxury end market, so why pay more than you would for a Nissan Navara that has all of the same performance features. Entry prices for the 190bhp versions start from €46,300 for the Progressive models; that’s about €4,000 more than the equivalent Nissan Navara LE offer that doesn’t include the automatic gearbox.
That indicates that the price lift is not as much as you would initially think; there’s a more luxurious and comfort feel to the X-Class with all of the performance features that you would expect from a 4×4.