Mercedes-Benz is billing their new pick-up, the X-Class, as the world’s first premium pick-up. After all, it is the first pick-up from a premium manufacturer. It’s well documented that the X-Class shares its underpinnings with the Nissan Navara, but Mercedes made assurances that it has improved its offering on all fronts, whilst living up to the prestige of its big three-pointed star.
First unveiled as a concept in 2016, the X-Class has made it to market in a very short amount of time, with it being revealed globally in July 2017, before going on sale in Europe in November 2017. And after a ‘long’ wait, the X-Class has officially arrived in ‘bakkie-country’.
But many have bemoaned the fact that the X-Class is just a ‘Navara with Mascara’. But it is anything but that. Mercedes has said, that they have ‘touched’ every single aspect of the vehicle to make this a true Mercedes-Benz. From its LED headlights, to Mercedes interior and exterior, to its widened track, and wider body, it is very different to the Navara. The motor and transmission have been completely retuned by Mercedes, and apart from negating the hunting between gears that plagued the Navara, the X-Class boasts the best NVH in its class – to the level that you forget that you are driving a diesel bakkkie, and feel you are in a C-Class.
The design of the X-Class focuses on the basic virtues of a pickup – strength, robustness and off-road ability, but packaged in a very Mercedes-like way. The front of the X-Class features a large three-pointed star flanked by louvres as seen on the GLS SUV, and conforms to Mercedes’ latest 3.0 SUV design language. The front also features a lot of plastic off-road cladding which adds to the look that it means business. There are muscular wheel arches, a large and high waisted loading bin, and modern looking vertical taillights.
South Africa gets two derivatives. The poverty spec ‘PURE’ spec isn’t brought to SA however. Our entry-level model is the ‘PROGRESSIVE’ variant which is aimed at people seeking a rugged pickup with extra styling and comfort functions - as a calling card for their own business, while also being a prestigious vehicle for private use. The range-topping ‘POWER’ lifestyle variant features a high-end design and equipment line. It is aimed at customers for whom styling, performance and comfort are paramount. The X-Class rides on attractive 18-inch wheels, but these can be upgraded to 19-inch.
Speaking of power, there are two engine options available for SA. The entry-level X220d which is powered by a 2.3-litre turbo diesel motor that produces 120kw and 403nm. The remaining five models, make use of a high output version of the 2.3-litre twin-turbo diesel and produce 140kw and 450nm. The mega X350d produces 190kw and 550nm from its turbo-diesel V6 which will be available by Q1 2019. All X-Class models are double cabs and are available in a mix of 6-speed manual and 7-speed automatic options. Featuring a ladder-type frame like its primary competitors, the X-Class is built tough. Thanks to its solid rear axle, towing up to 3.5 tons is a task completed with ease. The payload capacity is rated at 1.1 tons.
Mercedes-Benz is also the only manufacturer in the segment to opt for large disc brakes on both axles as standard. The front axle has internally vented brake discs with a diameter of 320mm. The internally vented brake discs on the rear axle have a diameter of 308mm. They ensure short braking distances, good response times and high thermal capacity. As with all Merc’s safety systems like ESP, BAS, EBD, ABS, ASR as well as seven airbags are all standard equipment. There’s even autonomous emergency braking, lane-keep assist and traffic sign recognition. There’s also 7 airbags, and it boasts a 5 star Euro NCAP safety rating.
The X-Class, which is being manufactured in Spain and Argentina, doesn’t just look good, it’s actually genuinely capable off-road boasting long spring travel and a standard ground clearance 221mm. Standing 1920mm wide, it is physically imposing and wider than the Navara. Thanks to its short and cladded front overhang, and a lengthy wheelbase of 3150mm, it has a breakover angle of 20.4°, a fording depth of 600mm, and approach/departure angles of up to 30.1° and 25.9°.
We tested the X-Class out in the Outeniqua Mountains just outside George, and we can confirm that it is indeed extremely capable off the beaten track. It switches far quicker between the selectable off-road modes – 2 HI, 4 HI and 4 LO – far quicker than the Navara. This car be attributed to the X using the G-Glass’ rear differential, and 4x4 system. We ran on a mix of freeway, and advanced off-road situations, and the X-Class proved its class by completing all tests thrown at it with ease – proving that there has been no compromise on handling and stability. There is also a full-size pair if ever needed.
The interior of the X-Class is all very familiar Mercedes-Benz, but I sense people wanted a bit more. Yes there is a multi-function steering wheel, funky circular air vents. The trademark Mercedes floating infotainment system measuring 8.4” is there too – equipped with COMAND Online. The entry-level model comes with black fabric seats while artico leather is available up the line-up. A 360 degree reverse camera is available as part of the parking package – the perfect addition whether you’re going off the beaten track, or navigating a tight parking lot at your nearest shopping mall.
Mercedes-Benz had an in-house team of designers and developers create an extensive range of genuine accessories especially for the X-Class. These enable the design and functionality of the pickup to be customized to an even greater extent. This range is provided by Mercedes-Benz Accessories and comprises styling, loading and off-road solutions. It will be expanded successively, especially for off-road use.
Mercedes is hoping to attract new customers to the brand, with the X-Class, whilst hoping that existing customers add their new bakkie to the garage, as a more ‘lifestyle’ focused Mercedes. The great thing about X-Class is that it appeals an extremely diverse customer landscape, whilst offering the perfect blend of luxury and utility.
The X-Class comes with Mercedes’ standard 6 year / 100 000km motorplan. Pricing is as follows:
X220d Progressive 6MT- R646 071
X250d Progressive 7AT - R699 200
X250d 4Matic Progressive 6MT - R701 615
X250d 4Matic Progressive 7AT - R729 675
X250d 4Matic Power 6MT - R796 145
X250d 4Matic Power 7AT - R824 205
Looking for more technical info, find the full specification list on all 6 models here.