Mercedes-Benz has introduced the new X-Class, their first new pick-up to the global media. It will go on sale here in November.
Initially I approached the thought of a premium car manufacturer’s first venture into the pickup market with some scepticism. However, after experiencing it on and off-road, I have been converted to the ‘Yes’ side. It’s not just the seeing, the touch and feel, or the drive experience, but also the simple fact that fills a glaring void in the market.
To succeed in what is effectively a new sub-segment, the new Mercedes-Benz X-Class would have to offer some unique qualities. Because of the brand’s heritage and it’s proposed buyer profile, it would have to offer up-market car appeal, a prestigious design, refinement and comfort, and on-road performance. And Mercedes-Benz hope to offer the new X-Class with a entry-level price that should be less than €40,000 including VAT.
Because there is no offering on the horizon from premium rivals such as BMW, Audi, Volvo etc., I think that Mercedes will be rewarded for their bold and smart move.
Sporting a characteristic SUV appearance, the X-Class fits seamlessly into the broad Mercedes-Benz model portfolio. Its twin-louvre radiator grille, centrally positioned star and powerfully honed bonnet and headlamps, extending far into the wings, combine to give this newcomer a distinctly up-market appeal that echoes its passenger car stablemates.
The X-Class gets off to a good start by sporting a characteristic front half SUV appearance. Its grille, the muscular, yet dynamic bonnet and the headlamps extending into the wings, combine to offer the up-market appeal of a premium SUV.
In addition to premium styling, there is a great story beneath the skin of the new X-Class. The engine, transmissions and four-wheel drive systems of four-cylinder versions of the new Mercedes-Benz pick-up are all supplied by Nissan, which is a major plus. The ladder chassis from the Navara is also carried over, but with additional bracing designed by the Germans to handle the available V6 engine’s additional torque. These revisions applied to all X-Class variants.
While sharing a similar wheelbase, the X-Class is 85 mm longer and 70 mm wider than the Navara. Mercedes-Benz has also created a unique, wider rear axle, wider front suspension wishbones, with spring rates and dampers tuned to Mercedes specifications. Electronic stability control tuning is also unique to the X-Class. Also, the V6-powered X350d engine and transmission come from Mercedes- Benz, as does their permanent four-wheel drive system.
The Navara’s multi-link rear suspension has been carried over too, but Mercedes has revised the settings, to deliver even better ride and more agile handling, while improving load-carrying ability.
All models feature a very different interior to the Navara. One items to which special attention was paid includes seat comfort, with the ‘Power’ variant having electrically adjustable seats and electric two-way lumbar support.
Mercedes-Benz tell us that the X-Class is designed to suit all lifestyles and work environments, but really, I see their big advantage is as a premium on-road (with light off-road use ) vehicle, that business owner can reclaim VAT on. It will take business from other pick-ups and SUV owners too.
That said, the X-Class can haul a payload of up to 1.1 tonnes, and it offers towing ability up to 3.5 tonnes.
It also claims to be the only mid-size pickup equipped with lighting in the cargo area as standard, the load bed is designed wide enough to fit a Euro-pallet between the wheel arches.
The X-Class comes in three model variants – ‘Pure’, a basic variant for classic robust use; ‘Progressive’, a crossover variant in terms of quality feel and comfort; and the ‘Power’, a high-end variant designed for urban lifestyles.
Across all three design and equipment lines, owners can choose from nine exterior colours and a variety of exclusive 17, 18 or 19-inch wheel rims. It also offers three choices of cockpit trim, and the widest choice of materials and colours in this vehicle segment.
Individualisation comes from a diverse range of designed accessories – from market launch, customers can add a styling bar, side bar, canopy, various covers as well as numerous cargo and off-road solutions.
As you would expect from Mercedes-Benz, the X-Class promises first class passive and active safety elements - ‘Active Brake Assist’, ‘Lane Keeping Assist’ and ‘Traffic Sign Assist’ being amongst its most notable features.
Billed as the first intelligently connected pickup, ‘Mercedes me’ connect means owners are linked to their X-Class via smartphone at all times. It also offers ‘Comand’ online multimedia system with 8.4 inch diagonal screen – the biggest in its segment and with markedly increases the image quality of its 360-degrees camera and navigation maps.
The instrument cluster consists of large, analogue round dials from the C-Class and V-Class range, which, in both versions, are tubular in form with a 5.4-inch colour multimedia display positioned between the dials.
I really think Mercedes-Benz have come up with a winner here - a pick-up with the X-Factor!