X-Class gets thumbs up in Chile
SIBONELO MYENI discovers Chileans like their double cabs as much as we do in Mzansi
THE Mercedes X-Class double cab is one of the most hotly anticipated cars not only in the bakkie segment but also interestingly, the SUV segment.
The local launch of the X220d and X250d is now confirmed after June next year, with the X350d coming later in the year.
We, meanwhile, went to Santiago, Chile to find out if it’s worth the hype.
South American countries are as mad for their bakkies as we are in Mzansi.
In the city of Santiago every second car you see is a double cab, just like Durban.
Wherever we stopped, the X-Class caused a stir with onlookers who asked many questions in rapid-fire Spanish (“Englisho speak” was generally our response). But their literal thumbs up suggests the X-Class will create much fanfare in Mzansi.
LED daytime lights, twin-louvre radiator grille with the prominent three-pointed star dominate the front. 17-inch to 18-inch wheel options are offered with the 18s the one to go for.
Metallic colour options and three levels of cladding are offered, starting off with the entry level Pure, mid-range Progressive topping with the luxury Power.
Customers can add a styling bar, canopy, various covers as well as numerous cargo and offroad solutions — all developed and designed by Mercedes.
Of these two I’d take the rockslider-lookalike side steps, to add to that off-road look, and mud flaps. For to me the rear of the X-Class looks unfinished without large mudflaps.
The five-seat interior maintains the current design theme in Mercedes-Benz passenger cars, with the dash mounted central Command infotainment screen and really comfortable seats.
The rear seats are positioned higher than the front, aiding all round visibility. Fit and finish is generally good but there are some suspect items that are not Merc level in terms of quality.
There are three interior trim options, six seat covers including two leather variants and two colour roof linings to help buyers customise their interiors.
As usual with Merc, buyers will have an extensive list of interior options to choose from, which can quickly add half the vehicle’s value.
Like all Mercedes-Benz vehicles, the X-Class features passive and active safety equipment including Active Brake Assist, Lane Keeping Assist and Traffic Sign Assist, among others. Connectivity is also offered with the Mercedes ME app.
Three diesel engines are offered, with two available at launch. The 2.3-litre Turbo diesel X220d has 120kW while the 2.3-litre Bi-Turbo diesel X250d has 140kW.
Both these models come with either rear-wheel drive only, or shift-on-the-fly all-wheel drive that has a low range. Unfortunately, the rear-wheel drive models don’t come with a rear difflock, even as an option, a demand that Merc should rectify as this is a big demand for Mzansi and European drivers.
A six-speed manual transmission comes standard with a seven-speed automatic available as an option.
At launch we drove the X250d all-wheel drive and it felt refined especially from inside the cabin.
Power delivery was noticeably better than its Navara cousin. Low-down torque delivery aids off road drivability as well.
On gravel and in off-road driving, the all-wheel drive X250d offers unheard of levels of refinement, noise insulation and vibration management for the double cab segment and will definitely poach SUV buyers.
We also got passenger rides in the X350d, the model set for launch in 2018. This model gets a 190kW/550Nm 3-litre V6 Turbo diesel linked to a 7G Tronic Plus Auto transmission driving through a permanent 4Matic all-wheel drive system.
The Dynamic Select is available in addition. This model will definitely be the sports model for X-Class buyers.
The unique suspension set-up allows for rugged roads as well as on-road refinement, offering SUV levels of comfort, albeit with that occasional “bakkie” feel over the bumps.
The stiff suspension liked being pushed on the twisty bits of our test route, where the X-Class felt sure-footed with minimal understeer and roll. Rear passenger comfort was also the best of any double cab I have ever sat in, including the KBs our KZN farmers like so much.
• Full disclosure: Mercedes-Benz SA sponsored the trip to South America. • Catch Sibonelo Myeni live on Ukhozi FM, each Thursday from 7.45 am to 8 am.
The X-Class was introduced to Chile’s bakkie-loving drivers this week and our correspondent Sibonelo Myeni was there.
All the rear needs to finish the bakkie look are mud guards.