The new Mercedes-Benz pickup tested on Irish roads
Pros: Good interior finish, load lugging capabilities,
Cons: Not hugely refined, Hilux wins for work,
Mercedes-Benz is making pick-ups now? Yes, this is the brand-new X-Class, an interesting alternative to the Toyota Hilux, Volkswagen Amarok and Nissan Navara amongst others, and the X-Class has been getting lots of attention since it launched in Ireland earlier this year. The X-Class straddles the divide between Mercedes’ passenger and commercial vehicle ranges, and it boasts a rugged design, strong off-road abilities and up to one tonne of load space too. But can it compete against the established elite in the pickup class? We drove the X-Class shortly after its official Irish launch to find out.
What is it like?
The X-Class stands tall and has a lot of presence from the outside, with recognisable details from other models in Mercedes’ range, such as a tiered front grille. The X-Class is available in Double cab guise only, and it is based on the same chassis as the Nissan Navara pick-up, while it also shares the same engines and four-wheel-drive system. The X-Class stands out in its the class and it scores high on desirability and draws admiration from other pick-up drivers out on the road. We drove the middle specification Progressive model which has 17-inch alloy wheels, front fog lamps and an optional hard cover and plastic bed liner. Those seeking a pick-up with premium badging and styling will likely be drawn to the X-Class.
Stepping inside, the X-Class has lots of recognisable features from Mercedes’ car models, with a similar dashboard design, touch pad controllers for the infotainment screen and a sporty leather steering wheel. Fit and finish in the cabin is good and better than what you will find in the Nissan Navara or Toyota Hilux, however don’t expect E-Class levels of refinement. The X-Class offers a commanding view of the road from the driver’s seat, and the driving position is comfortable with a reasonable range of adjustment. It has an enormous rear load area which is 1.6 metres long and more than 1.4 metres wide, which is enough to accommodate several mountain bikes or sizeable loads of up to a tonne in weight. The X-Class can also tow trailers up to 3.5 tonne in weight.
In Ireland, the X-Class is available with a four cylinder 2.3-litre diesel engine in two states of tune. The X 220d model has a power output of 163 horsepower, while the X 250d has a higher output of 190 horsepower. We drove the X 220d, which is likely to be the top choice with Irish buyers, and it is quite refined by pick-up standards. It isn’t particularly exciting to drive though, with the sprint from 0-100km/h taking over 13 seconds. That said, it offers plenty of low down grunt and it copes well with the X-Class’s 2.2 tonne bulk. Buyers can choose from a six-speed manual gearbox (which we tested) or a seven-speed automatic gearbox which is included as standard on the X 250d. A more powerful 3.0-litre diesel X 350d engine will also arrive later in the year, and it will top the range when it goes on sale.
While the X-Class isn’t as refined or enjoyable to drive as Mercedes’ latest range of SUVs, it is more composed and refined than the Nissan Navara thanks to its wider stance and rear spring suspension. Compared with other pick-ups on the market right, the X-Class is notably smoother and offers superior comfort on long journeys. Those expecting SUV-levels of refinement will be disappointed however. In default mode, the X-Class drives in rear-wheel-drive mode, but you can easily switch to 4MATIC and Low all-wheel-drive modes, which uses the low-range gearbox and optional differential lock on the rear axle. With over 200mm of ground clearance, the X-Class is an accomplished performer off-road too.
Prices for the X-Class start from €39,950 including VAT for the entry level Pure X 220d model, which is slightly above the Volkswagen Amarok. As standard, the X-Class is genrously-equipped with Mercedes’ Me Connect system, Hill Start Assist, cruise control, a reversing camera, LED load area lighting, tie down loops, electric mirrors and air conditioning. The mid-spec Progressive model adds an eight-speaker sound system, colour coded bumpers, aluminium door sills, chrome detailing, heated mirrors, a load securing rail system, black fabric upholstery, footwell lighting, a leather steering wheel and lots more. The range-topping Power model leaves little to be desired with additional LED head and tail lights, keyless entry and start, large alloy wheels, carpet flooring, electrically-adjustable front seats, leather upholstery, automatic climate control and lots more, though prices start from €51,000 including VAT.
Carzone verdict: 3.5/5
As a new premium option in the pick-up class, the X-Class delivers in just about every regard. The X-Class sits a notch above the Nissan Navara and Volkswagen Amarok in terms of desirability and interior finish, and it is well-suited to Irish roads with frugal diesel engines and an accommodating suspension setup. Pick-up buyers should be pleased by its load-lugging capabilities too. That said, the X-Class is nowhere near as refined as the equivalent Mercedes-Benz SUV, and it is one of the most expensive options in its class. Mercedes-Benz has to be admired for taking a bold step into the pick-up market however, with a car that delivers desirability more than most.
Test Car Details:
Model driven: Mercedes-Benz X-Class 220d 4MATIC Progressive Line
Prices from: €39,950 incl. VAT
Price as tested: €43,995
Annual Road Tax: €333 (Commercial)
Engine: 2298cc four-cylinder turbocharged diesel
Top Speed: 175km/h
0-100km/h: 12.9 seconds
Transmission: Six-speed manual
Body style: Pick-up