RIDING SHOTGUN Mercedes-benz X-class ute reveals promising signs on- and off-road.
WHEN Mercedes-benz unveiled its X-class ute in Cape Town back in July, there was no drive component on the program. That will have to wait until the official launch in October this year and the Australian release in April 2018. However, there was the opportunity to ride shotgun in an X-class on a private test track comprising both on- and off-road sections. While we didn’t expect to learn a lot from this brief ride-along, it did reveal some interesting elements of the car that indicate Mercedes-benz may well deliver on its promise of a premium performance pick-up.
The driver was one of Benz’s own test drivers, and he sure knew how to pedal... he didn’t hold back. The vehicle was an X250d Power, so a top-spec ute with the 450Nm bi-turbo fourcylinder engine backed by a seven-speed auto and part-time 4x4. The first thing you notice as you drive off in the X250d is that Mercedes-benz has done an impressive job of insulating the cabin from road and engine noise. The Renault 2.3-litre diesel can be vocal and harsh when pushed hard in the Nissan Navara, but there was none of that as the driver held the throttle to the floor around the test track.
He didn’t lift off around the bends either, and this is where the second revelation became evident – the X-class handles like no other one-tonne ute, except maybe a VW Amarok. More testing will be needed to confirm this but, interestingly, the X-class and Amarok have the widest wheel tracks in the one-tonne 4x4 ute class. The improved dynamics come courtesy of the Mb-tuned suspension that starts with the wider wheel track front and rear over the donor D23 Navara, as well as a spring and damper settings that are more in tune with Benz characteristics.
The wider track is due to the bespoke disc-brake-equipped rear axle and front control arms that are 75mm wider than those
Under the skin
The new X-class is based on the D23 Nissan Navara, but has been extensively reworked for the Benz version of the dualcab ute.