Eastern Reporter - - Driveway - Joshua Dowl­ing

THE ute mar­ket is grow­ing so quickly, lux­ury brands want in on the ac­tion.

The Mercedes-Benz of pick-ups, the new X-Class, has just gone on sale in Europe and lands in Aus­tralian show­rooms in early 2018.

Mercedes is yet to con­firm price but early in­di­ca­tions range from $40,000 to $60,000 for twin turbo four-cylin­der diesel vari­ants and closer to $70,000 for the V6 turbo diesels.

De­pend­ing on your point of view, it will be an ex­pen­sive Nis­san Navara or a cheap way into a big Benz.

Nis­san? The X-Class uses Nis­san four-cylin­der en­gines, is based on a Navara frame and is made on the same pro­duc­tion line as the Navara in Spain.

How­ever, un­like other model shar­ing ar­range­ments, it’s not sim­ply a Nis­san with a new badge.

Mercedes has made ex­ten­sive changes, adding strength­en­ing beams to the chas­sis, four-wheel discs in place of rear drum brakes and wider axles.

The body is 70mm wider than the Navara and ev­ery panel is unique to the X-Class; the only vis­i­ble carry-over parts are the side glass, door han­dles, key fob and rear-view mir­ror.

The X-Class will have some tech­nol­ogy firsts for the class, such as au­to­matic emer­gency braking stan­dard and a high-res­o­lu­tion 360-de­gree cam­era.

As it wears a Benz badge, you might ex­pect it would come with the works. But it has some notable omis­sions.

The flag­ship X-Class comes only with faux leather seats even though the top end Toy­ota HiLux and VW Amarok have gen­uine leather. Radar cruise con­trol and lane-keep­ing tech­nol­ogy are not avail­able at any price. It also misses out on Ap­ple Car Play/An­droid Auto.

It’s a good first ef­fort but we’re not sure it’s a bet­ter drive than an Amarok.

The ride com­fort is bet­ter than the Navara but the X-Class still gets the jit­ters on patchy roads. The mas­sive turn­ing cir­cle of 13.4 me­tres – thanks in part to wider axles – is worst in the class.

Power out­puts are un­changed from Nis­san’s diesels: the 2.3-litre turbo pro­duces 120kW/403Nm and the twin-turbo 140kW/450Nm.

Ver­dict: The X-Class prob­a­bly will rank among the top three or four utes in the seg­ment and many will buy it for the badge alone. But there’s al­ready room for im­prove­ment.

The MercedesBenz X-Class ute.

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