Daimler’s confident first step into the crowded double cab diesel ute segment with the X-class landed in New Zealand in May. There are high hopes for the luxury car maker’s first foray into the ute market. The new X Class boasts no less than 13 different specifications across a threemodel range at launch and offers buyers what may be the longest list of accessories (including branded luggage) of any such vehicle. Arriving with four cylinder engines and mainly with automatic transmissions, the X-class is bristling with technology and has a refinement that belies the workaday aspirations of this vehicle class. It’s likely to walk a line part-way between American, Japanese and Korean rivals and the top end target, VW’S Amarok. A quick drive at the April customer event revealed almost car-like NVH, a supple rear suspension design that departs radically from rival designs to deliver a smooth and uncomplaining ride even when unladen, and civilised 2.3-litre diesel power with single or biturbo boost. The rear suspension warrants mention – it retains a live axle, which helps maintain a 3500 kg (braked) towing capacity, but coil springs and long trailing arms in a multi-link axle location setup help smooth out fore-aft pitch and give the X-class its silky ride. The rear wellside is the longest available in the class and wide enough to fit a standard pallet between the wheel arches (unless a tray protector is fitted). Couple that with sharp pricing across a three-model range that offers a star ter ‘tradies’ spec in the early $50k and goes up to full bling at $75k and X-class is a competitive proposition. Among the crowd at the customer launch event we attended, were some very new customer prospects for the brand. Imagine this: you’re the owner of a fleet of four or six big Mercedes transporters doing long line-haul or local gravel or freight work. Up to now you’ve chased the fleet in something from another brand. Now, suddenly, you have a tough, refined, practical diesel double cab wearing the three-pointed star. When your fleet is worth millions, dropping $70k on an X-class hardly figures, does it?