Motors

Mercedes-Benz X-Class: The truck gets a premium pick-up

With its X-Class, Mercedes aims to bring hitherto unseen levels of sophistication to the pick-up market, writes William Scholes

William Scholes
28 March, 2018 01:00

PICK-UPS are big business - and getting bigger all the time. Around 50,000 were sold in the UK last year, a number that is expected to swell further in the years ahead, writes William Scholes.

The majority are bought in a double-cab format, meaning you get car-like passenger space and a still-decent load bay as well as the sheer toughness, towing strength and off-road ability - most offer four-wheel-drive - with which pick-ups are synonymous.

Much of the growth in the sector has come from so-called lifestyle buyers.

They have been won over by the same attributes which have traditionally made them attractive to the farmers, builders and other trade professionals for whom a pick-up is as much a work tool as it is a means of transport.

So while a pick-up may be of use to your trade, deciding to park one on your driveway may not be the only reason that you need one if your hobbies include towing things hefty enough to defeat even most large SUVs - a big boat or horse box, for example - or outdoorsy activities like a lot of heavy duty mountain biking and surfing.

 Mercedes-Benz X-Class

The problem is that most pick-ups make a rather poor substitute for a car or SUV. This isn't only because of their size but chiefly because they aren't particularly nice to drive or travel in.

Which is where the X-Class, the first Mercedes-Benz pick-up, enters the picture.

The X-Class aims to bring hitherto unseen levels of sophistication to the pick-up market; where other pick-ups, even in their posher 'lifestyle' trims, are a bit rough around the edges, it strives for refinement; where rivals are uncouth, the Mercedes is civilised.

None of this would be relevant if the Mercedes wasn't able to work as hard as it can play.

But it emphatically ticks the workhorse boxes. It can tow a 3.5-tonne trailer and carry a load weighing up to 1,087kg in a load bed measuring 1,587mm long by 1,560mm wide, narrowing to 1,215mm between the wheelarches; large enough, in other words, to carry a pallet.

To help it get ahead of established players like Isuzu, Mitsubishi, Ford and Toyota, who already know this market very well and have had years to perfect their pick-ups, Mercedes partnered with Nissan and Renault.

The X-Class aims to bring hitherto unseen levels of sophistication to the pick-up market; where other pick-ups, even in their posher 'lifestyle' trims, are a bit rough around the edges, it strives for refinement; where rivals are uncouth, the Mercedes is civilised

So while it shares some key components with the Nissan Navara - chiefly the ladder frame chassis, four-cylinder diesel engine, four-wheel-drive system and multi-link suspension - it has been extensively 'Mercedes-ified' to produce a pick-up that comes closer than any other to the road manners of an SUV.

An even fuller Mercedes effect will come later this year when a 3.0-litre V6 diesel with 255bhp and a chunky 542lb.ft joins the line-up under the X350d badge.

It will join the two versions which have launched the X-Class: the X220d, with a 161bhp, 297lb.ft 2.3-litre engine; and the X250d, with a 187bhp, 332lb.ft version of the same unit.

The X220d gets a six-speed manual gearbox and the X250d comes with a seven-speed automatic.

The X220d and X250d normally run in rear-wheel-drive mode, with four-wheel-drive manually selectable.

The X350d, meanwhile, will get permanent four-wheel-drive and a seven-speed automatic gearbox.

All models get a low-range gearbox with the option of a locking differential.

With a prominent three-pointed star badge on the grille, the X-Class could be nothing but a Mercedes, and it aims to live up to that premium billing on the inside.

 Mercedes-Benz X-Class

It means the X-Class interior is a leap ahead of any other pick-up's, with the same air vents, infotainment screen and instrument dials as the company's SUVs.

That being said, it isn't so plush that you would be afraid to bring your X-Class to a building site or farmyard in case you got it dirty. The plastic mouldings in the lower part of the cabin, where dirty feet are likely to scuff against, are tough items, for example.

Three trim levels are offered, rising in poshness from Pure, via Progressive to Power.

Almost no-one is expected to buy a Pure - it gets steel wheels and an unpainted front bumper - but each is well equipped by pick-up standards, lavishly so in the case of the Power version, which Mercedes expects to be the most popular.

Every model gets a 7-inch colour infotainment screen with a rotary controller and menu shortcut buttons. Also standard is a DAB radio, Bluetooth, air conditioning, a reversing camera, electrically adjustable wing mirrors, front foglights and LED load bay lighting.

Progressive trim adds heated door mirrors, 17-inch alloy wheels, automatic wipers, carpet mats, a leather steering wheel and an eight-speaker audio system.

Helping emphasise the X-Class's premium status is a car-like range of upholstery options, including leather, and paint colours. The Mercedes also comes loaded with safety equipment, which has helped it secure a five-star Euro Ncap rating

Climb into a Power model and you will find electrically adjustable front seats, keyless entry, climate control, 18-inch alloy wheels, front and rear LED lights and electrically folding door mirrors.

Helping emphasise the X-Class's premium status is a car-like range of upholstery options, including leather, and paint colours.

The Mercedes also comes loaded with safety equipment, which has helped it secure a five-star Euro Ncap rating.

Standard driver assistance and safety features include autonomous emergency braking, lane departure warning, traffic sign recognition, tyre pressure monitoring, adaptive brake lights, trailer stability assist, seven airbags and automatic child seat recognition.

Traditionally, pick-ups are not the quietest of vehicles in which to travel. But Mercedes has clearly put a lot of effort into making the X-Class as hospitable as possible, with judicious application of sound-deadening material apparent.

It all adds to the refined, sophisticated air which puts the X-Class ahead of its rivals for plushness.

A pick-up which can carry more than a tonne, pull a 3.5 tonne trailer, dispatch proper off-road conditions with ease and takes its place in a professional's tool kit may never be able to drive with the car-likeness of a SUV.

But with the X-Class, Mercedes has got closer than anyone else. It is worthy of the badge.

 Mercedes-Benz X-Class

AT A GLANCE

Mercedes-Benz X 220d 4Matic Progressive

Price: £28,510, ex VAT; £34,212, including VAT

Engine and transmission: 2.3-litre four-cylinder diesel turbo, six-speed manual gearbox, switchable four-wheel-drive with low-range; 161bhp, 297lb.ft

Performance: Top speed 105mph, 0-62mph in 12.9 seconds

Fuel consumption and CO2: 37.2mpg (EU combined), 200g/km

Road tax: £250 annually (from April 2018)

Benefit in kind: £670 annually (20 per cent tax payers); £1,340 annually (40 per cent tax payers)

Euro Ncap safety rating: Five stars (90/87/80/77), 2017

With a prominent three-pointed star badge on the grille, the X-Class could be nothing but a Mercedes, and it aims to live up to that premium billing on the inside

AT A GLANCE

Mercedes-Benz X 250d 4Matic Power

Price: £34,100, ex VAT; £40,920, including VAT

Engine and transmission: 2.3-litre four-cylinder diesel turbo, seven-speed automatic gearbox, switchable four-wheel-drive with low-range; 187bhp, 332lb.ft

Performance: Top speed 109mph, 0-62mph in 11.8 seconds

Fuel consumption and CO2: 35.8mpg (EU combined), 207g/km

Road tax: £250 annually (from April 2018)

Benefit in kind: £670 annually (20 per cent tax payers); £1,340 annually (40 per cent tax payers)

Euro Ncap safety rating: Five stars (90/87/80/77), 2017

  • The X-Class will be sold through Northern Ireland's only commercial dealer, Mercedes-Benz Truck and VanThe Mallusk-based dealer hosted a launch event for the X-Class at Larchfield Estate outside Lisburn, where customers were given the opportunity to put the pick-up through its paces.

?

 Mercedes-Benz X-Class

28 March, 2018 01:00 Motors

Today's horoscope

Horoscope


See a different horoscope: