Buy­ers pick up on classy ute

South Western Times - - Wheels - Ewan Kennedy

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!

Pow­er­trains

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.

Safety

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.

Driv­ing

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.

Sum­ming up

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.

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