I am not a number I am an X-Class.
December 2017 saw the UK launch of the Mercedes-Benz X-Class. With annual UK pick-up sales approaching 50,000 units, is it any wonder that Mercedes-Benz want a piece of the pie & the X-Class now gives the brand the opportunity to supply it’s existing customers with a pick-up, whilst opening up new market’s for it’s dealerships, including the ‘lifestyle’ pick-up customer, who Mercedes have been eyeing for some time.
The X-Class share’s its underpinnings with the Nissan Navara & it uses the same ladder-frame chassis & multi-link rear suspension that’s a highlight of the Nissan. Having driven the X-Class, it’s clear that MB’s claim to have improved the chassis & suspension on X-Class over Navara has worked, because it has produced the best handling pick-up that CC&V has driven yet, as well as being the most refined to drive & to be a passenger in.
The new X-Class is being offered in three guises; Pure, Progressive & Power . From lunch there are two engines. The X 220d 4-cylinder 2.3l diesel with turbocharger offering 163hp (120kW) & the X 250d 4-cylinder 2.3l diesel with twin-stage turbocharger offering 190hp (140kW). A third engine, a V6 X 350 d 4MATIC is expected in mid-2018.
All UK vehicles are double cab with 4MATIC selectable all-wheel drive as standard, with double wishbone front suspension & multi-link rear suspension.
Safety is paramount on X-Class & it comes with a high level of safety features. Driver & passenger airbags, thorax bags, window bags on the A-D pillar, driver knee bag, Active Brake Assist (radar-based autonomous emergency braking), Lane Keeping Assist, Traffic Sign Assist, Hill Start Assist, Reversing Camera, Anti-theft protection package, ECO start/stop function & ESP are featured across the range. Trailer Stability Assist can be added as an option.
Prices start from £27,310 (ex VAT) for entry level Pure. This model comes well appointed with a rear bumper with integrated step, halogen headlights, matt black radiator grille, manually adjustable driver & passenger seats, a large storage compartment in the centre console incorporating an armrest & cupholder, semi-automatic air-con with high gloss black details in the air vents & 17″ steel wheels.
Mid-range Progressive is priced at £1200 + vat above the Pure model. It comes with a choice of either the 220 d 4MATIC engine, or the uprated 250 d 4MATIC engine. Features include, painted bumpers with a simulated under guard in matt black, aluminium door sills with ‘Mercedes-Benz’ chrome door handles, heated exterior mirrors, a load securing rail system, a radiator grille with iridium silver matt finish, black fabric upholstery, an aluminium trim inside with chrome air vents & 17″ six-twin-spoke light-alloy wheels in vanadium silver.
Top-of-the range Power adds in 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. Power is priced at £3500 above Progressive models.
We drove top-of-the range Power, powered by the 250d 4-cylinder 2.3l diesel with twin-stage turbocharger offering 190hp & driven by the auto-box. From the outside, the X-Class silhouette does make it look like a Navara. However, the addition of the chrome Mercedes-car-like front grille, topped off by the three-pointed star, leave you in no doubt that is is a Mercedes product.
It is the interior though, that takes this pick-up to new heights. The interior 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.
Once comfortably seated, you’ll want to explore the gadgets on offer. Dominating the dashboard is the centrally located infotainment system, which is controlled by a touchpad & rotary dial between the seats. There was a temptation on my part to try to touch the screen to alter the functions, as many other cars & CV’s feature such screens. However, in the X-Class you need to utilise the dial, which did take a bit of getting used to. However ten minutes into our drive, I found the controller easy enough to use & my passenger & I both set up our Bluetooth mobiles quickly & easily, whilst enjoying the best that DAB radio has to offer. Our test car 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 COMAND infotainment set-up, that also increases the infotainment screen size to 8.4”.
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 it’s rivals cabin space X-Class is not that great.
Front passengers get loads of head, leg & arm room whilst in the rear, the bench seat is spacious & here too, head & legroom is good. You will fit three adults in without too much of a squeeze.
On the road, X-Class drives better than any pick-up we’ve tried yet. Not only is the engine quiet, there’s a refinement on offer that alludes most diesel engines full-stop & the 250d is the smoothest we’ve encountered in a pick-up this far.
The front seats are firm as well as comfortable. Power models feature the 8-way electrically adjustable seats which are easy use & allow one to find the perfect driving position quickly.
The 2.3-litre 4-cylinder diesel unit offers 187bhp with 450Nm, which when driven with two adults & unladen, was perfectly adequate for our needs. Acceleration from 0-62mph takes 11.8 seconds & top sped is 109mph. When pushed, the engine performed well with the refinement a real stand out. Only the Amaroks 3.0 litre unit matches the Mercedes in that department, with the Ranger Wildtrak the next best available.
For a pick-up, handling’s impressive too. Corners are taken well, with little or no rolling as the X-Class cleverly transfers it’s weight from right to left & back gain. Even over rough & pot-holed road surfaces, the X-Class is exemplary, somehow banishing the usual bouncy, pitchy, fidgety pick-up ride that comes with it’s competitors. Most pick-ups are more comfortable to be in, with a load in the rear, but the X-Class doesn’t suffer the same way when unladen, which is high praise indeed.
From a fleet customer perspective, UK taxation structure means that double-cabs are bought by small businesses as tax-efficient company cars, as they evade the VAT charged on passenger cars. Therefore the high price of the X-Class, is not such an issue, especially to lifestyle business customers. Having said that, if you want a pick-up to be your work horse then the likes of the Toyota Hilux & Isuzu D-Max would be better choices & both are cheaper.
Weighing in at between 2,213 and 2,234kg, the X-Class is the heaviest pickup on sale & comes with a payload of between 1,066kg & 1,087kg & a towing capacity of 3.5t. The load space available is 1,587mm long & 1,569mm wide – or 1,215mm wide between the wheel arches. It’s weight means that it’s not as economical as the Navara that’s powered by the same engine. The X 250 d achieves 35.8mpg on the combined cycle, compared to 40.4mpg in the equivalent Navara, although in a real world test, both are more likely to achieve around 30mpg.
CO2 emissions are 200g/km for the X 220 d & 207g/km on our test model the X250 d, both about par for the sector. 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.
Furthermore, 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.
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 answer is most definitely the X-Class, which usurps the Volkswagen Amarok 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 you’ll want to choose. Furthermore, the X-Class also offers a better towing capacity than the Amarok & is a better off-road vehicle than the Amarok as well. Premium but also practical.
A new King of the Hill 4.5/5
Model Price Excl. VAT
X220d 4MATIC 163hp Euro6 PURE £27,310
X220d 4MATIC 190hp Euro6 PURE £29,310