Those in the know will be aware that Mercedes-Benz’s new X-Class is based on Nissan’s Navara, but don’t think for a moment that it’s a Navara carrying a different badge, as the X-Class has been re-engineered from the ground up. From a car company that prides itself on engineering excellence you wouldn’t expect anything less. While Mercedes engineers were probably happy to start with a clean sheet the pressure was on to be market ready as soon as possible. Using the Navara as a starting point saved approximately two years or more of development. Mercedes-Benz has a technology-sharing agreement with the Renault-Nissan alliance, so the Navara was readily available. In creating this X-Class, Benz’s engineers took a Navara and removed the body and the powertrain from the chassis, then the ladder frame was strengthened with extra cross-bracing and reinforcing, and the track widened via longer wishbones up front (+62mm) and a longer axle at the rear (+55mm). Disc brakes were fitted to the rear in place of the Navara drums and linked to high-end safety kit including autonomous braking. New springs, dampers and sway bars were then fitted, as was a revised steering system for fewer lock-to-lock turns. Then the Navara’s powertrain, re-mapped no doubt, was re-installed. In the meantime, Benz designed and built a wider body that was fitted on this re-engineered chassis. This is not a case of badge engineering, this is re-engineering.
The X-Class 2.3-litre four-cylinder bi-turbo engine shares the same 188hp/450Nm power and torque numbers with the Navara and comes close to matching it in performance despite being 160kg to 180kg heavier depending on the spec level. Powering the X-Class is a 2.3-litre, high-torque, common-rail diesel engine with a choice of two power outputs –163hp in the single turbocharged X220d, and 190hp in the biturbo X250d that we tested. The extra weight comes from the frame strengthening, wider body, equipment variations and extra sound deadening. That means, in this company – Amarok aside – the X-Class is one of the stronger performers. A 6-speed manual transmission is standard with 7-speed automatic transmission available for the X250d 4MATIC model that we drove.
The extra sound deadening is especially significant as the X-Class is much quieter than the Navara and, in fact, is one of the quietest on the market. Refinement was obviously a design objective that Mercedes-Benz placed high on the priority list.
The X-Class offers a comfortable ride and handles with a confidence that betters all but the Volkswagen Amarok and possibly the Ford Ranger in this segment. The wider track definitely helps here, as does the increased torsional rigidity and suspension. The X-Class offers a comfortable ride combined with very little road or suspension noise. The X-Class also feels very solid and tight. The selectable 4MATIC with low-range gearing makes the Mercedes-Benz X-Class excellent for off-roading and there’s also a hill descent mode. Ground clearance is also very good. The X-Class has a payload of over 1 tonne and towing strength is up to 3.5 tonnes.
The X-Class’s cabin presentation is much more upmarket like a passenger car than the standard pick-up and stands out from its competitors thanks to features like the high-tech centre console touchpad and rotary dial control for the nav, entertainment, phone and media. The ‘tablet’ style touchscreen also adds to the passenger-car feel. Tilt-and-reach steering wheel adjustment is also a nice touch. The X-Class’s cabin is wide and is notably spacious, with the rear seating being adequate even for taller adults getting in and out. All models come with advanced safety features including Active Brake Assist, Lane Keeping Assist and Traffic Sign Assist.
In Ireland the new X-Class will be sold through a seven-strong main dealer network. Dealers are Sligo based Connolly Motor Group; Cork Truck Services; Gilmores of Kingscourt; Kinahan Commercials, Moate and three Dublin city outlets – MSL Grange at Pottery Road, Deansgrange; MSL Park Motors on North Circular Road and MUTEC on Long Mile Road.
The Mercedes X-Class offers trademark Mercedes engineering with a solid and refined driving experience. Comfort and safety is as you would expect from the brand and the X-Class would be in my top three pick-ups in the market. Considering its size it is remarkably easy to manoeuvre and the camera and sensors are very welcome. Visibility is good when you take into account the size of the X-Class and it has very good load carrying ability. Drop into one of the seven-strong main dealers to experience a test drive.
Model Mercedes X-Class 250d 4MATIC POWER line
Engine Size 2.3-litre Turbocharged four-cylinder
Transmission Seven-speed automatic
Acceleration (0-100km/h) 10.0 seconds
Top Speed 212 km/h
Consumption 6.9 – 9.6/100km
CO2 Emissions 207g/km
Road Tax €333 per year
Base Price €39,950
Our Test Model €52,550