Launched in 2018, the Mercedes-Benz X-Class was the brands first pick-up. Based on the Nissan Navara, the X-Class shares its platform, some interior switch gear & the same window profile as the Nissan. However, in order to distinguish the Mercedes from the Nissan, Mercedes have spent a lot of time & money turning their pick-up into a premium product. It’s smoother on the outside than the Navara & inside, it’s more upmarket too, with the dashboard & fittings borrowed from some Mercedes passengers cars.
The X-Class may share’s its underpinnings with the Nissan Navara & use the same ladder-frame chassis & multi-link rear suspension but having driven the X-Class at launch, it’s clear that Mercedes have improved both the chassis & suspension on their pick-up.It still offers the pick-up bumpy ride in the back, especially unladen, but up front, it’s as good as it gets when compared to the current crop of pick-up’s on the market.
The X-Class is offered in two guises; Progressive & Power & with three engine choices; The X 220d 4-cylinder 2.3l diesel with turbocharger offering 163bhp & the X 250d 4-cylinder 2.3l diesel with twin-stage turbocharger offering 190bhp & a V6 X 350d 4MATIC with a 3.0l 6-cylinder twin-turbo V6 diesel that packs 254bhp. This model is only available with permanent 4WD & a 7-speed auto box. All UK vehicles are double cab with 4MATIC selectable all-wheel drive as standard, with double wishbone front suspension & multi-link rear suspension.
It is the interior though, that takes this pick-up to new heights. The inside design of the X-Class features elements from the latest Mercedes passenger cars, including the tablet-like floating display screen at the centre of the dash, the eight criss-cross air vents & the same instruments, column stalks & steering wheel you’ll find in the Mercedes car range. There are some ‘Nissanesque’ plastics lower down on the dash, but overall it is the plushest pick-up yet.
Both models offered, come well appointed. Progressive features body coloured bumpers, with the rear bumper featuring an integrated step & there’s a rail-based cargo securing system is in the load bay. Inside, you get eight-speaker’s, a DAB radio, Mercedes me Connect – Standard Services, reversing camera, live traffic info, air-con & carpet on the floor.
Top-of-the range Power adds even more goodies including LED high performance headlights, LED tail lights, electrically folding exterior mirrors, KEYLESS GO, eight-way electrically adjustable driver & front passenger seats, ARTICO leather & DINAMICA microfiber upholstery, with ARTICO leather dashboard, a black, high-gloss interior trim & 18″ six-twin-spoke light-alloy wheels in himalaya grey.
We were testing the 350d Power & inside if does really feel like the interior of a Mercedes SUV car. Dominating the dashboard is the centrally located infotainment system, which is controlled by a touchpad & rotary dial between the seats. I found the controller easy enough to use, as it’s the same as the one found in many MB passenger cars . Our test model featured an intuitive SatNav, although if you want SatNav, you’ll need to specify it as an option. This comes either as a Garmin system or as Mercedes’ own COMMAND infotainment set-up, that also increases the infotainment screen size to 8.4”. Apple CarPlay & Android Auto are also an option to use Google Maps.
For your drinks, pens, clipboards & sundries, storage come in the form of a flip-top storage bin between the seats, inside of which can be found twin USB sockets. There’s a single cup-holder in the centre binnacle as well as decent storage in the door pockets. The glove box adds a bit more space, but all in all, compared to some of it’s rivals cabin storage X-Class is not that great.
On the plus side, front passengers get loads of head, leg & arm room whilst in the rear, the bench seat is spacious & here too, head & legroom are good. You will fit three adults in without too much of a squeeze.
The top-of-the-range X 350d V6 diesel is designed for driving & so it comes with a combined economy figure of 31.4mpg- we averaged 27.1mpg- & emissions of 236g/km, a 0-62mph time of 7.5 seconds & a top speed of 127 mph.
The Mercedes X-Class is actually larger than the Nissan Navara at 2,113mm wide including mirrors & it’s 5,340mm long. That equates to increases of 38mm and 40mm over the Nissan with the expansion in length down to a larger rear overhang. The load space on offer is 1,587mm long & 1,569mm wide or 1,215mm wide between the wheel arches. It’s also heavier than the Navara.
The X-Class will tow a 3,500kg braked trailer. There’s an electrically operated hatch in the rear window of the X350d’s cab that can be used for longer items. Our test model also came with a roof-height hard-top canopy for a fully enclosed luggage space, which as we found out on a trip to the always-wet Lake District, does keep out the rain.
X-Class requires Ad-Blue. A 17 litre Adblue tank is fitted, as all models have Selective Catalytic Reduction (SCR) exhaust after-treatment tech to control NOX and particulate emissions. All X-Class models come with a 3-year unlimited mileage warranty plus free MobiloVan roadside assistance that covers the whole of the UK & Europe throughout your ownership period.
Within just a few minutes of taking delivery of the 350d, I was out for a drive, from Altrincham to Windermere a distance of 90 miles, almost all on motorway or dual carriageway. Undoubtedly this pick-up can move as I set cruise control & settled in for the journey. Motorways are of course flat & mostly straight, so unsurprisingly, the 350d performed admirably. The seats are large & comfortable, the electric seat adjustment makes it easy to get comfortable & the on board infotainment system, which I utilised with Apple CarPlay, was excellent. Put your foot down to overtake & there’s a lovely roar from the engine. The cabin is well insulated & quiet. Even in slow moving traffic, this monster-truck is quiet & smooth, with the auto-box a standout. The dashboard, fixture & fittings are all manufactured to the highest quality, even lifting it above the Ranger Wildtrak & Amarok Aventura in the quality stakes.
The default driving mode in the X-Class is Comfort. For my motorway drive, I selected Eco in theory to save a bit of fuel, which lower’s the engine revs. For all-out fun you can choose Sport, which allows the engine to hold onto the gears right until the rev limit. It’s also offers a more satisfying accelerator response- just ask the driver of an Audi RS4 who foolishly tried & failed to impress me near Kendal-
If you really want to take control, then there is a Manual mode, whereby gears can be changed using the paddles mounted on the back of the steering wheel. I found this a little jerky & moreover, slow to engage the gears, preferring to go back to the auto-box & Sport mode.
For those who need to go off the beaten track, there’s also Off-Road mode. This is a separate system to the 4WD system & offers better grip & control in very wet or slippery conditions.
In addition to the 4Matic mode, the X-Class V6 comes with 4High & 4Low settings. 4Low reduces gearing to take advantage of the V6’s torque, a whopping 550Nm’s, whilst 4High locks the central differential to keep all four wheels turning on slippery or uneven ground Standard is Hill Descent Control which keep’s the X-Class restricted to 8mph when travelling downhill in 4High or 5mph in 4Low. For travelling uphill in low traction situations, you can select a rear differential lock. Hill Start Assist is also offered, something that’s becoming more familiar in ordinary SUV’s.
Safety kit is excellent. All models have twin front & thorax airbags plus a driver’s knee airbag & window airbags down the side of the cabin. There’s Active Brake Assist, autonomous emergency braking, Hill Start Assist & Land Keeping Assist, so even in the early evening Cumbrian rain, the 350d felt safe as houses. The steering in common with all pick-ups is a little on the heavy side, but it doesn’t take that long to get used to this. I found that despite it’s length, I could park the X-Class on our three-vehicle drive comfortably & even found the car parks at both my local supermarkets & gym, easy to negotiate. It helps that all models have a reversing camera.
Pick-up’s by their very nature are bumpy to be in. Mercedes have taken the Nissan Navara chassis with its independent multi-link rear axle & have strengthened it, widened the track & retuned the suspension with better quality springs and dampers. The result is handling that is highly impressive for the pick-up class, although, it’s still some way short of the ride you’ll find in a similarly priced SUV.
On some of the winding roads around Coniston, the X-Class tackled the terrain admirably. With its well weighted steering, it’s also surprisingly agile as I found out on some narrow country roads. Even unladen, it doesn’t smash or crash over road imperfections like most other pick-ups on the market. Whatever Mercedes engineers have done to the chassis to make it excel, has most definitely worked.
Another bonus is that the cabin offers excellent visibility. Couple this with the raised driving position & the X-Class offer’s the driver a reassuring driving experience. For those of you who will be going off-road, the X 350 d has permanent 4WD with a low-range setting & hill descent control.
For those urban warriors reading this, the off-road capability of the X-Class won’t be your primary reason for buying one. Current tax breaks make pick-ups attractive, although with an asking price of £38,350 + vat, the 350d is not cheap.
Pick-ups seem to stir emotions in men of a certain age like nothing else. I am forever bombarded by questions as to which pick-up is the best. What these inquisitors are really asking, is not which one performs the pick-up role the best, but which pick-up offers the best on-road driving experience, a pick-up for every day use, to go to the shops in, or to take the family on a journey in.The X-Class 350d is right up there alongside the Volkswagen Amarok Aventura at the top of the table. Ford’s Ranger Wildtrak is also worth a mention here, as is the Nissan Navara Tekna.
If you want to drive a pick-up, that offers the most car-like features set within a premium package, then it is the X-Class 350d that you’ll want to choose. For using your pick-up, well as a pick-up, there are better value for money models on the market, from the likes of Isuzu, Mitsusbishi, Fiat Professional & Toyota. It may well be the best, but the 350d also of course, comes with an almighty price tag, so if you really want one, you’ll have to pay a premium to get it.