MEET MERC’S BAKKIE

Ger­man au­tomaker un­veils its long awaited pre­mium dou­ble cab

The Star Early Edition - - FRONT PAGE - JA­SON WOOSEY

THE NEXT big step in the gen­tri­fi­ca­tion of the once-hum­ble pickup is upon us. Mercedes-Benz pulled the cov­ers off the show­room ver­sion of its X-Class at the world launch in Cape Town on Tues­day night and, just as you would ex­pect, its game plan is to of­fer a posher al­ter­na­tive to one-tonne favourites like the Hilux and Ranger.

Avail­able only as a dou­ble cab, and due in South African show­rooms in early 2018, the X-Class is based on al­liance part­ner Nis­san’s Navara, and is also built in the Ja­panese car­maker’s Span­ish plant, but Mercedes has added its own flavour to the ve­hi­cle in many re­spects, in­clud­ing swankier ex­te­rior styling and a unique cabin with plusher trim­mings and more fea­tures.

And yet the fanci­ness quo­tient is vari­able, with Mercedes of­fer­ing three trim grades, in the form of Pure (rugged and func­tional), Pro­gres­sive (ex­tra style and com­fort) and Power, which is just down­right lav­ish.

Like the Navara the X-Class trades the leaf spring rear sus­pen­sion that you usu­ally find be­neath one-tonne bakkies for a smoother-rid­ing coil­sprung, multi-link solid axle.

The X-Class will have a braked tow­ing ca­pac­ity of up to 3.5 tonnes and the ve­hi­cle will be of­fered with diesel power only in most mar­kets. Ini­tially this will be lim­ited to two ver­sions of the Nis­san-sourced 2.3-litre oil burner: a 140kW/450Nm twin-turbo in the X 250d and a 120kW/403Nm sin­gle-turbo unit in the X 220d. A small se­lec­tion of mar­kets, mainly in the Mid­dle East, will also get a 122kW petrol en­gine op­tion.

Later in 2018 Mercedes will play its best en­gine card with the in­tro­duc­tion of a V6 tur­bod­iesel, rated at 190kW and 550Nm.

The four-cylin­der mod­els will be avail­able with rear-wheel drive or part-time four-wheel drive as per one-tonne bakkie tra­di­tion, with sixspeed man­ual or seven-speed au­to­matic gear­box op­tions, but the V6 will be mated to a more so­phis­ti­cated per­ma­nent all-wheel drive sys­tem to­gether with the 7G-Tronic Plus Con­tin­ues on Page 3

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