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Mercedes-Benz’s X-Class premium pick-up finds its niche

Mercedes-Benz X-Class is a premium, practical pick-up with class-leading ride quality. Picture: Mercedes-Benz

Mercedes-Benz X-Class is a premium, practical pick-up with class-leading ride quality. Picture: Mercedes-Benz

Mercedes-Benz

Mercedes-Benz reckons it has found a new niche in the pick-up truck segment. Darren Cassey finds out if its debut X-Class pick-up can fill it.

Road-tuned suspension makes for smoother progress. Picture: Mercedes-BenzRoad-tuned suspension makes for smoother progress. Picture: Mercedes-Benz

There aren’t many niches left in the automotive world but Mercedes-Benz reckons it’s found a new one – the premium pick-up.

With more people buying pick-ups for personal use, it says there’s a market for a less utilitarian model, with nearly a thousand pre-orders in nine months after being revealed, Mercedes might be on to something.

What’s new?

Mercedes has worked wonders with the front end of the X-Class. Picture: Mercedes-BenzMercedes has worked wonders with the front end of the X-Class. Picture: Mercedes-Benz

Mercedes uses the Nissan Navara pick-up platform so the launch engine is from the Japanese manufacturer – with new software – along with the transmission and four-wheel-drive system.

What makes the X-Class stand out is sleeker exterior styling while the Mercedes suspension gives much better ride quality. The interior’s a huge step up, too, although some switchgear is reused.

Under the bonnet

Cabin looks classy for a pick-up. Picture: Mercedes-BenzCabin looks classy for a pick-up. Picture: Mercedes-Benz

The 2.3-litre diesel engine is 163hp in the six-speed manual X220d and 190hp in the seven-speed automatic X250d. While it’s fine once you’re up to speed, even in the more powerful version getting there is an effort. Off-road, it proved more than torquey enough to get out of trouble on a boggy 4×4 course.

A more powerful, high-torque diesel V6 with 255bhp and 550Nm of torque goes on sale mid-2018.

How it drives

Well-sized pick-up load bay. Picture: Mercedes-BenzWell-sized pick-up load bay. Picture: Mercedes-Benz

Typically, when driving pick-ups, the fact they’re set up for heavy loads in the back means an often jiggly ride. Mercedes has done incredibly well to tame this with best-in-class ride quality thanks to new suspension and a wider track. Having the wheels further apart helps make the X-Class more stable while road-tuned suspension makes for smoother progress.

It’s impressive in corners too, resisting too much body roll, but the steering is slow.

Looks and image

Mercedes-Benz X-Class is a premium, practical pick-up with class-leading ride quality. Picture: Mercedes-BenzMercedes-Benz X-Class is a premium, practical pick-up with class-leading ride quality. Picture: Mercedes-Benz

The rear two-thirds of the X-Class are quite forgettable – there’s only so much you can do with the traditional pick-up shape. However, Mercedes has worked wonders with the front end to give it a distinctive face.

The X-Class brings a sense of sophistication to the sector, making it a real head-turner.

Higher-spec Progressive and Power models get alloy wheels and shiny chrome but entry-level Pure has steel wheels.

In the cabin

By pick-up standards it’s up there with the best, with smart propeller-like air vents and a prominent infotainment screen. But, while the hard plastics used throughout might be normal for this segment, they feel slightly at odds with the premium image the X-Class is trying to portray. It’s premium for a pick-up but not like the German brand’s road cars.

Front seats are comfortable, the driving position well judged and raised rear seating helps the passengers’ view.

Final say

Compared with pick-up rivals, the Mercedes X-Class is a bit of a revelation to drive. If the well-sized load bay appeals, and you don’t want to give up interior creature comforts, the X-Class treads a fine line very well indeed.

SPEC AND TECH

Price (excluding VAT): Mercedes-Benz X250d 4Matic Power £34,100 (range from £27,310)

Engine: 2,298cc, 190hp, four-cylinder turbo diesel with seven-speed automatic gearbox

Performance: 0-62mph 11.8 seconds; top speed 109mph

MPG: 35.8 combined

CO2 emissions: 207g/km

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