Mud, slopes and river beds were no match for the new Mercedes Benz pick up at its recent Irish launch. The new double cab, available as a 4X2 or 4X4 is built as a partnership vehicle with Nissan, right alongside its Navara in Nissan’s Barcelona plant.
The simply named X-Class shares its ladder chassis, engines and a few other bits and pieces with the famous Japanese workhorse but Mercedes Benz stresses that the X Class is all Mercedes Benz. There is truth to that claim as the X Class doesn’t share a single body panel with the Japanese machine and has been set up specifically by the German firm to meet its standards for ride quality etc. The X Class is a long beast at 5.34 metres and will take a bit of getting used to on the road.
Pick ups follow a set recipe when it comes to styling. When viewed side on the X Class looks like most others. It has the obligatory short front overhang and long rear overhang to facilitate the exposed rear deck. At the back, the pick up is as bland as the rest of the competition but it has clean lines. The head on view is where the German premium car maker has put in most effort. The big grille shows how MB’s corporate identity has been embraced – especially the higher up the grades you go as they get more bling.
Three grades are offered from €39,950 (4X2 inc. VAT/VRT). Pure is the entry point and it has rubber floor mats and a vinyl floor plus a big plastic grille so this version is the actual worker’s version in the range. The Pure 4X4 version costs from €42,300. Next up is Progressive 4X4 (from €43,950) and it gets some more chrome and nicer wheels and the top grade is called Power 4X4 (from €52,950) and features the 250d engine (the only engine with an auto option), more chrome again front and rear and this is the version the horsey set will aspire to.
Power comes from a range of four cylinder diesels with a Mercedes Benz own 3 litre V6 diesel on the way next year (a petrol X200 is available for African markets). The entry 2.3 litre ‘220’ four cylinder diesel produces 163hp/403nm and the ‘250’d bi-turbo version pushes out 190hp/450nm. A six-speed manual is standard.
Inside the cabin features a high floor and lowish roof – Pick ups tend to have a unique seating position that forces driver’s legs up and out forward a little more than in a conventional SUV or car. Pure is quite basic inside but as you go up-the-range you get more of that nice ‘Merc-feel’ for your buck so to speak. There are two leather seating options and LED headlights are standard on the Power grade. A number of value packs are available such as comfort, style, parking, okus and winter packs.
We took the entry level Pure out for a bit of off roading to see if the tough looking Mercedes Benz could walk the walk. The drive-train is rear-wheel drive by default but with the turn of a switch you can select four wheel drive ‘high’ or another turn allows you selct four wheel drive ‘low’. Low gives you a set of gears that allow the car go virtually up walls without stalling the engine. The 4MATIC on the models above the entry level Pure get a lockable rear differential for serious off road use. We went up muddy hills through streams and over a lot of greasy surfaces and didn’t miss a lockable diff at any stage. In fact most of the course was done with feet off altogether as the engine’s idle pulled us through everything. A nice chunky steering wheel helped us guide the long machine through ruts and along a stream bed with minimal effort. The progress in driver comfort in the class is astonishing and the X Class is right up there with the best in the class. Hill descent control is standard too.
On the road, depending on the grade you can select from five drive modes: eco, comfort, sport, manual and off road. Stop start features also. The X Class benefits from Navara’s multi link rear suspension that is a very sophisticated set up in a pick up – most use leaf springs from the stone age.
Towing capacity is good with up to 3,500kgs braked and the rear deck can take a 1 tonne payload and it can also fit a euro-pallet between the wheel arches.
The new X Class will be sold in seven outlets, three of which are van specialists and four car only dealerships. Traditionally mixing passenger cars and vans is no done and the X Class comes from the commercial side of MB’s portfolio.
The trouble for buyers is the car is seen by the state as a commercial vehicle and trying to use one privately is a chore. Private vehicle road tax is a whopping €994 (€333 commercial rate) plus getting insurance cover for private use is an issue – so Mercedes Ireland expect most buyers to have a business and be VAT registered etc.