Mercedes-Benz X-Class 250d 4x4 test drive
The X-Class is in Zululand, finally! It’s definitely the most important new vehicle of 2018 and for sure the most anticipated.
Proof of this is the fact that someone followed me from Meerensee to Empangeni to look at the X-Class, and also the guy who recorded a video on his phone whilst driving behind me.
I’ve tested many ‘first arrivals’ over the years, but have never seen this level of interest in a new vehicle.
The two main factors at play here are, number one - it’s a bakkie, and number two - it’s a Mercedes-Benz.
Is it a true Benz?
It’s common knowledge that the X-Class shares its underpinnings – engine, transmission and suspension – with the Navara, which is a feather in the cap of Nissan, surely, but more on that subject later.
What was most important to me, because of Mercedes-Benz’ premium pedigree, is that when I get into the X-Class, even though it’s a bakkie, I want to feel like I’m sitting in a Benz.
And the X-Class’s maker didn’t disappoint.
The cabin, from foot well to roof lining, is as premium as everything else out of Stuttgart.
Inside, the X-Class’s interior basically mirrors that of the brand’s midrange sedans in dash design, and fit and finish.
The demo McCarthy Inyanga Motors provided was the range topping (for now) X250d 4x4 Power model.
It has the same top-mounted infotainment screen as the C-Class as well as a dial with touch pad in the centre console to control the infotainment system.
The rear sliding window is also electric and the bakkie boasts keyless entry and a stop/start button.
There were no big surprises driving the 250d X-Class because I’m familiar with the 2.3-litre bi-turbo diesel’s performance levels and behaviour coupled to that specific seven-speed auto box.
However, Mercedes-Benz did fine tune the combination somewhat and that is most evident in the seamless shifting and smooth power delivery.
The German engineers also made their own adjustments to the suspension because, where the Navara has a payload of 1061kg, the X-Class can carry 1100kg and tow 3500kg (braked).
In the dash sits a dial marked 2WD, H4 and L4, accompanied by a diff-lick button.
The brand’s 4Matic system, doing duty in the X-Class, adds a centre diff-lock to the mix and traction over demanding terrain is excellent.
Descents, especially, are a breeze with the added help of a clever ‘Down Hill Assist’ function.
And if you need more help to take the X-Class safely through the rough, there’s the optional 360-degree camera which will give you an all-round view of the terrain.
The bakkie also boasts a host of standard safety tech like autonomous emergency braking and lane-keep assist for on the tar.
The X-Class is definitely a premium bakkie.
On the outside it looks damn good and on the inside all Mercedes-Benz with a luxury feel right through.
The drivetrain, while sourced from Nissan, performs better than in the Navara and sets the benchmark in its class as far as performance and ride quality go.
The X-Class is also the quietest bakkie I’ve ever come across, even by upmarket sedan standards.
My only gripes with the vehicle is the infotainment system, which is somewhat complicated to negotiate, and the recesses behind the door handles that are too small for the average male hand to get a good grip.
The belt line angle, from headlight to tailgate top, could also have been slightly steeper towards the rear to have created an impression of a higher tail-end.
And with all that said, I would like to congratulate Mercedes-Benz on their very first bakkie; the overall execution is spoton and one really feels that this vehicle, premium badge or not, can do what any other bakkie can, if not better.
• X220d 4x2 Progressive – R642 103
• X250d 4x2 Progressive AT – R694 025
• X250d 4x4 Progressive – R696 785
• X250d 4x4 Power – R791 315 Mercedes-Benz sells its new X-Class with a PremiumDrive plan which is a sixyear/100 000km maintenance plan.