X Marks The Spot If You Want A Classy Pickup
Andy Harris, Motoring and Property Editor
As I am writing this piece, the new Mercedes-Benz X-Class has just been crowned ‘Professional Pickup of the Year’ at the inaugural Professional Pickup and 4X4 Awards ceremony.
I was invited to be a judge, but was sadly committed elsewhere when judging took place back in December.
The recent cold snap coincided with a top-spec X250 Power model arriving for extended testing, so I suppose the burning question is do I agree with the verdict? Read on and find out!
First a little background on the pickup truck market and the X-Class itself.
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 popular D-Max model.
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 was 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 and was on display at the Geneva Motor Show.
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.
My test car’s 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. The upcoming V6model might be worth the wait.
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With deep snow covering the countryside, I ventured off the beaten track in my quest to see whether the X-Class was all style and no substance.
I can happily report that it proved capable in fairly extreme conditions, only the lack of stopping power on icy roads letting the side down. I’m told that buyers can select a more hardcore tyre and I would suggest that would be wise.
The 4X4 system is selectable, meaning that the X-Class can run in 2WD in normal driving.
Mercedes quote 35.8mpg for the combined cycle and I can report achieving a little over 30mpg over the course of a week which included plenty of local running and a high speed blast to Manchester Airport and back.
I had planned to tow my large twin axle trailer, but the weather rather scuppered the attempt. The figures say a trailer up to 3,500kg may be towed and with ample low down torque, I am sure the X-Class is up to the task.
So is the X-Class pick of the crop?
In a word yes! A comfortable car-like interior, impeccable road manners and imposing good looks impress, the only downside perhaps being the rather bullish pricing.
The V6 model will further cement the X-Class’s lofty position and judging by the favourable comments I received on my travels, buoyant sales are likely to follow.
Mercedes-Benz X250 d 4MATIC PPOWER
Prices start at £34,100 (ex VAT)
2.3-litre diesel engine – 190hp
Combined economy 35.8mpg
Emissions – 207g/km CO2
Selectable 4MATIC all-wheel drive standard
5* Euro NCAP Safety Rating
3,500kg braked towing capacity
24 month unlimited mileage warranty
For sale via MB Vans Dealer Network
X Marks The Spot If You Want A Classy Pickup, 15th March 2018, 22:06 PM