Buyers pick up on classy ute
The Mercedes-Benz X-Class is the talk of the town among admirers of pickup trucks and utes in Australia. The thought of having the prestige of a threepointed star for only a few thousand dollars more than a somewhat mundane ute has led to instant take-up of sales of the working Mercedes.
It’s no secret that the X-Class is based on a Nissan Navara ute, but it has received quite a bit of work by the guys and gals at the German company, including a different body and interior and revised underpinnings. The latter include the use of coil springs front and rear.
Mercedes X-Class in Australia is certainly no toe-in-the-water exercise, no fewer than 13 models are now here, with more on the way. (And keep in mind that Mercedes vans and trucks have been on Australian roads for many years so the ute has a strong heritage.)
With a ground clearance of 222 millimetres and good approach and departure angles this is no fancy toy with a famous badge – it is a serious off-road worker when 4WD is specified (see the section on Powertrains).
The width between the wheel arches can take an Australian-size pallet.
The X-Class can tow up to 3.5 tonnes. With a smile on their faces the authors of the press release on the new X-Class Mercedes say, “it can pull a trailer containing three horses or an eight-metre yacht.” Love it!
At this stage there is a choice of two 2.3-litre four-cylinder turbodiesel engines. The single-turbo X-Class 220d producing 120 kW of power and 140 Nm of torque and the twin-turbo 250d with 140 kW and 450 Nm.
A 3.0-litre V6 turbo-diesel engine with 190 kW and 550 Nm will be released later this year as the X-Class 350.
A six-speed manual gearbox is offered in all models as MercedesBenz Australia feels some will buy the X-Class as a genuine knockabout working vehicle. A sevenspeed automatic transmission is optional with the 250d engine.
Mercedes X-Class can be bought with 2WD (rear wheels) or the Mercedes' 4MATIC 4WD system. This is a “proper” 4WD with low-range gearing and a differential lock.
The 220d is offered with either powertrain, the 250d is all-wheel drive only.
It comes as no surprise that Mercedes X-Class comes with a comprehensive array of safety equipment, or that it has a five-star ANCAP safety rating. Standard are seven airbags, those for driver and front passenger come with a two-stage, deferred-triggering mechanism; Active Brake Assist (an advanced type of Autonomous Emergency Braking); and Lane Keeping Assist.
This is a big vehicle with a length of 5340 millimetres, width of 1920mm and a height of 1819mm. Not big for a pickup truck, but a hassle at times if used as a car. There were frustrating occasions when it was necessary to find a wider than average parking space in the airport and shopping centre carparks during our test week.
The front seats are big and support well in the typical German way. However the back seat is high and headroom will be tight for some adults. Legroom is OK back there but try for yourself if you're going to be using the big Merc as a family car with teenage kids.
Ride quality is good though not to the Mercedes high standards of Merc’s passenger cars – you could argue that it is a working truck, but try for yourself, particularly on roughish roads to see what you think.
Noise levels are well damped, in fact impressively quiet on smooth roads, but rose quite a bit on harsher surfaces.
Road holding is good though obviously the higher centre of gravity does reduce the safety factor if you want to corner at silly speeds.
Our home base is in a fairly affluent area of the Gold Coast, a city that’s not exactly known for shy and retiring people. Already we are seeing plenty of X-Class Mercs on the road and in driveways. We expect the same to apply Australia-wide when these relatively affordable prestige pickups are taken for test drives.
The oversize three-pointed star in the grille is a major feature of the mighty Mercedes X-Class ute.
Mercedes X-Class in Australia is certainly no toe-in-the-water exercise.
The front seats are big and support well in the typical German way.