Mercedes-Benz X-Class UK Launch Review
Andy Harris, Motoring and Property Editor
The demand for pickup trucks shows no sign of abating. Renault and Fiat have recently joined the crowded market, whilst established manufacturers such as Isuzu have comprehensively revamped their existing models lines.
With more and more private buyers choosing to use a pickup as family transport, there has been a seismic shift up market. No longer will agricultural driving characteristics and a spartan interior do.
The time is therefore right for Mercedes-Benz to enter the fray and it is the first premium manufacturer to do so. It would seem unlikely that rivals will follow as they lack the established commercial operation that MB has already in place.
In fact the new X-Class is the fourth model in the Mercedes-Benz van range and will benefit from the existing commercial vehicle expertise, currently available across 64 sales and 113 after sales sites.
All X-Class models offer a spacious double cab and boast selectable 4MATIC all-wheel drive as standard. Double wishbone front suspension and multi-link rear suspension are fitted, a comfortable ride being the goal.
For now a 2.3-litre diesel engine with two different power outputs is available. The 220d boasts 163hp, whilst 250d model buyers will have 190hp at their disposal. A hotly anticipated V6 350d will join the line up around the middle of 2018.
Opening the range is the ‘Pure’ model, with prices starting from £27,310 (+VAT). Only available with the least powerful engine and a manual gearbox, this model is most likely to appeal to those who are looking for a working vehicle. Air conditioning is standard.
Spend a little more on a mid-level ‘Progressive’ variant (add £1,200 +VAT) and the more powerful engine is now available as is the option to specify an automatic gearbox. Chrome additions, smart alloy wheels and painted bumpers are far more ‘lifestyle’...
Top of the heap are the ‘Power’ models (add another £3,500+VAT). In keeping with the lofty aspirations, only the 190hp engine is offered.
More chrome, larger 18-inch alloy wheels and LED headlights are the exterior highlights, whilst the interior benefits from ARTICO leather and microfiber upholstery.
A range of option packages is available across the range. The Winter Package at £340+VAT looks good value (heated seats and washer jets). I also like the sound of the Parking Package (£570+VAT) as it includes not only parking sensors but a selection of cameras, useful not only when parking but also when tackling extreme off-road challenges.
Those who are likely to spend a lot of time off road will likely be drawn to the optional differential lock (£495+VAT) and the ability to add an extra 20mm of ground clearance (£220+VAT).
Safety sells and the X-Class is not found wanting. Lane Keeping Assist and Active Brake Assist (radar-based autonomous emergency braking) are the highlights. A 5* Euro NCAP safety rating should provide additional reassurance.
So what is the X-Class like to drive? At the UK Media Launch, we were only able to sample the top spec ‘Power’ model complete with a selection of optional extras.
The 190hp engine pulls willingly, but is no ball of fire. Mercedes-Benz does not provide official acceleration figures, but with a little digging around I would suggest the 0-62mph sprint time is around 11.5 seconds. The automatic gearbox shifts smoothly, but if you want to ‘press on’, the engine does get rather vocal.
Add a trailer (up to 3,500kg if braked) or a full complement of passengers and luggage and your guess is as good as mine. What’s for sure is that when I have an X-Class on extended test, I’ll hook up my trailer and find some willing passengers!
I suspect most X-Class buyers will be more concerned about comfort and handling and in these areas the Merc is pick of the crop. The ride is generally comfortable, with a distinct lack of the rear end bounce which afflicts most rivals. Handling is safe and secure, almost fun on the right roads...
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Undaunted, we headed into Snowdonia, where with increasing altitude we found deeper and deeper snow. The classy Merc cosseted us and kept moving on roads where others would likely have struggled.
I covered a lot of miles on the two day X-Class launch and came away impressed. A comfortable car-like interior, impeccable road manners and imposing good looks are likely to send pickup buyers rushing to their nearest showroom.
Nobody does it better seems apt, but if X-Class proves to be a runaway success, expect to see more premium offerings in the years to come.
Prices start at £27,310 (ex VAT)
3 model lines: PURE, PROGRESSIVE and POWER
2.3-litre diesel engine – 163hp (220d) or 190hp (250d)
V6 X 350d to follow (mid 2018)
Selectable 4MATIC all-wheel drive standard
5* Euro NCAP Safety Rating
3,500kg braked towing capacity
Payload from 1,066kg
Combined economy 37.2mpg (220d)
Emissions 200g/km CO2 (220d)
24 month unlimited mileage warranty
For sale via MB Vans Dealer Network
Mercedes-Benz X-Class UK Launch Review, 29th December 2017, 10:59 AM