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First Drive: Mercedes X-Class

Mercedes-Benz joins the pick-up market with much more than a restyled Nissan Navara, says Dan Gilkes.

SECTOR Pickup   POWER 163-190bhp   PAYLOAD 1,066-1,087kg   CONSUMPTION 35.8-37.2mpg

Mercedes-Benz has finally launched the X-Class pick-up in the UK, though initially only with four-cylinder engines. A V6 from the E-Class will join the line-up by the middle of 2018. Based on the Nissan Navara and built by the Japanese firm at its plant in Barcelona, the X-Class is not simply a new grille and lights. Mercedes claims that every panel has been replaced and a quick look at the specification sheet shows that the truck is slightly bigger in every dimension.

Initially the X-Class will be offered with two versions of the Renault-Nissan 2.3-litre four-cylinder engine. As with Navara and Renault’s Alaskan, they deliver 163bhp and 403Nm of torque in the X220d, or 190bhp and 450Nm in the X250d. The lower powered engine comes with a six-speed manual gearbox as standard, while the 190bhp engine gets a seven-speed automatic.

All UK X-Class models will be double cab with four-wheel drive, selectable in the four-cylinder models and full time in the V6. There will be three trim levels on offer, with the 163bhp engine only offered on the two lower levels. The 190bhp engine can be had with all three.

The base model is the X-Class PURE, which has 17” steel wheels, air conditioning, ECO start/stop, a reversing camera, Lane Keeping Assist, Active Brake Assist and Traffic Sign Assist. Mercedes is expecting a very low take-up at this level, as little as just 1% of UK sales, but the PURE model will also be offered as a chassis cab, for conversions, for those who need a real working Mercedes.

The mid-level PROGRESSIVE trim adds £1,200 to the price and comes with 17” alloys, aluminium trim inside and out, heated mirrors, a load securing rail system and painted bumpers. The big seller is expected to be the range-topping POWER trim, at £3,500 above PROGRESSIVE. This comes only with the higher-powered engine, 18” alloys, rear chrome bumper, fog lights with chrome surrounds, LED headlights and tail lights, electrically folding mirrors, keyless go, electrically adjustable seats, man-made leather and microfibre upholstery and high-gloss trim interior.

Mercedes has opted for a wider track, with revised wheel hubs and Mercedes’ own wheels. The trucks retain the independent coil spring suspension from Navara, but this too has been tuned to suit the vehicle.

Noise levels are considerably lower than in the Nissan and the level of refinement in the cab is higher than any other pick-up on the market. Cruising at motorway speeds is almost totally silent and the automatic transmission swaps gears so smoothly that you can hardly tell. If you want to change ratios yourself though, you have to move the lever back and forth, as there are no paddles with the auto box.

The interior is very upmarket, with a huge brushed alloy panel across the dash. However, apart from a small cup holder and shallow door bins, there is very little storage. It will be a minor quibble for many buyers though, the three-pointed star on the grille guaranteeing that the firm’s target of 2,500 registrations in 2018 should be easily reached.

What we think

Much to our surprise, the X-Class does bring something new to the pick-up market, with a genuinely premium feeling cab. It also drives very well.

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Written by Dan Gilkes

Dan has been a commercial vehicle and construction equipment journalist for almost 30 years. An automotive engineer and former fleet manager, he has driven almost every van, pickup and truck that has been launched in Europe over that time. As editor of VFW, his aim is to keep readers up to date with the latest developments in the light commercial world.

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