In South Africa on Tuesday night came the Global unveiling of the long awaited Mercedes X-Class or to us 4x4ers their new Pick-up. Clearly, Mercedes wants to prove its first-ever pickup is as adept at tackling terrain as it is smart looking, by the next morning journalists were herded into the demo trucks to demonstrate the trucks abilities.
Mercedes claims it’s the first pickup from a premium car manufacturer (some may might disagree). The basic ladder-frame chassis is based on the Nissan Navara as we know, but Mercedes has made significant changes to improve the X-Class’ ride and handling, including a wider track, better dampers, and disc brakes on all four wheels. Cornering at 60 miles per hour in the passenger seat of the new Mercedes-Benz X-Class pickup, does impress. On-road, in rear-wheel drive, the body remains remarkably flat and passengers unruffled through tight turns. It feels almost as good as a well sorted SUV despite its 210-inch length and unladen rear end.
The middle-of-the-range X250’s 2.3ltr diesel, mated to a six-speed manual, puts its 190 horsepower to the ground well with an audible roar, but the sound doesn’t encroach too much into the well insulated cabin. More surprising is how fast the truck feels, official figures include a 0-62 mph time of 10.9 seconds and a 114 mph top speed.
The X-Class can do proper off-road too. After stopping to select low ratio four wheel drive, the truck takes on super steep inclines, stopping and starting halfway up easily with Hill Start Assist. It’s as relaxed down the other side courtesy of Mercedes’ simply named Downhill Speed Regulation. A 100-percent differential lock for the rear axle is optional. These extreme-angle off-road maneuvers are made easier using the X-Class’ 360˚ camera view. When the only view through the windshield is of the sky, an extra camera mounted under the radiator grille helps the driver see the ground via the 8.4 inch infotainment screen.
Wading through a deep stream is no problem, official fording depth is almost two feet, nor are steep inclines, Mercedes says it can tackle up to 49.8 degrees.
Interior space is good, and six-footers can sit one behind the other happily. A higher ‘stepped’ ceiling in the rear ensures decent headroom. The sliding rear center window behind the rear passenger’s head can be operated electronically from the driver’s seat. The load bed beyond that is 62.5 by 61.4 inches, good for a Euro pallet or 17 – 50ltr beer barrels.
Mercedes says it has “no plans” to offer this midsize pickup in the States. The automaker cites the dominance of full size pickups and domestic players for this choice, viewing Latin America, Oceania, Europe, and South Africa as more attractive markets.
The interior trim comes in 3 levels, Pure, Progressive and Power.
However, some cabin finishes are disappointing, the Pure trim has too many dark plastics from dash to doors, and no amount of jet engine inspired air vents or concave wood filet can mask the ‘orange-peel’ hard plastic finish of the lower dashboard directly below, even in top Power trim. The auto gear shifter and surround looks out of place in a 2017 Mercedes interior too.
The X-Class range starts with the X220d, powered by a 163hp, 2.3ltr four cylinder Tdi with a six speed manual gearbox and rear wheel drive with selectable four wheel drive.
A small 166hp, petrol powered X200 will be limited to a few specific markets including the Middle East, while a 258hp X350d with a diesel V6 and permanent four wheel drive won’t arrive until 2018.
The X-Class will cost just over £33,000 (€37,294) in Germany from its November 2017 launch, but that’s only for the stripped-out workhorse Pure trim.
The likely bestsellers will be Progressive trim, aimed at customers using the vehicle as much for leisure as work, and Power trim, for private individuals unlikely to go far off-road, preferring to keep their leather seats and contrast stitching clean.
Both of those models will likely cost into the £40,000’s.