Mercedes-Benz reveals plush X-Class pick-up + passenger ride
The model is a five-seat, four-door crew cab pick-up with a separate chassis and four engine options
Mercedes is aiming to broaden the appeal of its pick-up from traditional buyers to the leisure market; it goes on sale at the end of 2017
Mercedes has revealed its much anticipated new premium pick-up, the X-Class.
The model is a five-seat, four-door crew cab pick-up with a separate chassis, four engine options, a choice of selectable or permanent four-wheel drive and six-speed manual or seven-speed automatic transmission options. It goes on sale at the end of this year at prices starting from £34,500, inclusive of £5600 VAT.
The company claims that the X-Class can be used as both a rugged, off-road-capable pick-up, as well as a vehicle for urban families. Mercedes is aiming to meet the rising demand for pick-up trucks with the refinement and convenience features of a conventional car. Besides its robust construction and sophisticated suspension, the X-Class’s premium cabin, connectivity, extensive safety aids and scope for personalisation are all intended to extend its appeal beyond the traditional pick-up buyer looking for a workhorse, towards the leisure market.
The X-Class’ core markets are Argentina, South Africa, Australia, Brazil, New Zealand; it has been extensively tested in all, says the car maker. Inspiration comes from the more rugged end of Mercedes’ vehicles – the G-Wagen and Unimog are said to have influenced its design. Its core buyer types are businesses, landowners, families, adventurers, independent free spirits, according to designer Gordon Wagener. “It’s a vehicle of opposites: hot and cool, tough and elegant, wilderness and civilisation.”
To this end, the X-Class is offered with three varieties of dashboard finish, six upholstery options including two in leather and three trim levels, ranging from the entry-level Pure through Power and Progressive. Mercedes-Benz UK expects almost all sales to be of the pricier Power and Progressive trims.
X-Class engines include a 161bhp diesel X220d and 187bhp X250d as well as a 163bhp petrol engine in some markets. A 255bhp, 542lb ft V6 diesel will be released in mid-2018. The X220d and X250d 4Matic provide selectable four-wheel drive, while the six-cylinder unit has permanent four-wheel drive. All versions have low-range gearing; a locking rear axle differential is optional.
Mercedes claims excellent off- and on-road performance, the X-Class’s suspension consisting of coil-sprung double wishbones at the front and a coil-sprung, five-link live axle at the rear. Long spring travel, good articulation and precise wheel control are features, along with ‘a high level of driving dynamics and ride comfort on the road’. The X-Class’s driving character can be altered via Dynamic Select option providing comfort, ECO, sport, manual and off-road choices.
Volker Morningweg, head of vans, says Mercedes feels “It’s the right time to launch a premium pick-up. We’ve put a lot of effort into this.” Target models, though not premium, are Toyota Hilux – ‘a solid product’ – and the Ford Ranger. “We investigated both of these. We’re new to this segment, so we have to be considered. Our clear target was excellent refinement – this is more a lifestyle oriented pick-up. It’s not a basic workhorse.’ It will be built in Spain, alongside the Nissan Navara and Cordoba, Argentina.
Pick-ups are mostly about carrying loads, and the X-Class can carry up to 1042kg – similar to that of mainstream competitors such as the Mitsubishi L200, Toyota Hilux and Nissan Navarra. The load bed length is 1587mm, its width 1560mm and height (to the top of the loadbed walls) 474mm. The X-Class will tow a 3.5 tonne load equivalent to a three-berth horsebox or an 8m yacht. It’s slightly wider than its competitors, and also has the longest wheelbase in the class.
Load securing points are also standard, these becoming load-securing rails on higher trim levels. Typical pick-up options include a styled body-colour rear canopy, a plastic load-bed liner, a bed-divider system, soft and hard tonneau covers, an aluminium roll-top cover, a 156-litre storage box, running boards, a roll-over hoop and a three-piece detachable stainless steel underguard.
Less typical of a pick-up are Active Brake Assist, Lane Keeping Assist and Traffic Sign Assist, along with a connectivity app that enables users to remotely locate the vehicle, check its fuel level and navigate from door-to-door via a smartphone. Also unusual is a higher standard of in-cab finish than typically found aboard pick-up trucks. Mercedes’ Comand infotainment and 360-degree cameras are also options.
We’ve taken a ride in the X-Class – here’s what we thought
In 12 minutes, we enthusiastically attacked a race track, performed standing starts on super-steep hills, effortlessly descended them, traversed a set of moguls that got wheels dangling, clambered over boulders and through a water splash, before riding a bank of earth that tilted this Mercedes 42 degrees from the horizontal. At that angle an occupant sitting on the low side of the car is almost close enough to the ground to drop a window and pick flowers. At the 50 degree tilt that is this pick-up’s tip limit, it would certainly be possible. So that’s impressive.
So is the X-Class’s aura of robustness, and the basic pliancy of its suspension over rough stuff, which is supple enough to cushion sharp jolts effectively. Suspension articulation seems promising too, the succession of earth hillocks that compress the front-left, rear-right, front-right, rear-left springs alternately being taller obstacles than most drivers would tackle. The steep hill from a standing start is no trouble in this X250d automatic either, the task further eased by a hill-holder.
The return to level earth is hill descent controlled, the drop notable for the lack of clack from the ABS actuators. Refinement has been an important aspect of the X-Trail’s development, Mercedes clearly needing to set higher standards than both the Nissan Navara and Renault Alaskan that share much of its innards, as well as rivals such as the VW Amarok. In fact, the Renault-sourced diesel is more rattlingly vocal than you’d expect, though mostly when revved. Otherwise, the X-Class does have much of a car’s civility.
It’s definitely less car-like on a track, unsurprisingly, bodyroll and rear-end tyre squeal accompanying a trip towards the grip limits. But we’re probably travelling faster than you would in most pick-ups, and on this smooth track, it feels controlled. Whether the manners of this Mercedes crew cab improve on the Navarra’s sufficiently to warrant a sizeable price difference we’ll need some testing to reveal. But the promise is there.
Source: Autocar Online