Mercedes-Benz X-Class with V6-engined diesel lands in SA
The Mercedes-Benz X-Class, which first appeared in four-cylinder diesel engine guise, has just docked in SA with a V6-engined diesel derivative that has been badged the X350d.
The new Mercedes-built V6 bolsters the existing Nissanmade four-cylinder range with a 3.0l diesel engine mated to a seven-speed automatic transmission. Maximum power is rated at 190kW, which outguns the 165kW produced by the segment’s only other V6 bakkie, the VW Amarok, although both vehicles have an identical 550Nm torque figure.
The new X350d is a five-seat, four-door double cab in two trim grades: progressive and the higher-spec power. The two are mechanically identical but the more affordable progressive comes standard with 17-inch alloy wheels, air vents in electroplated silver chrome, leatherlined steering wheel and parking brake, seats in black fabric or an optional leather/microfibre, and an infotainment system with eight speakers.
The power specification adds a chrome-plated under-ride guard in the front bumper, chrome-plated rear bumpers, larger 18-inch alloy wheels, and LED headlamps, and comes with a dashboard with extra trim elements and electrically powered front seats. It also benefits from a louder Audi 20 infotainment system equipped with a multifunctional touchpad.
Both X350d models have an impressive array of comfort and safety features. The protection includes seven airbags, and optionally, active brake assist, traffic sign assist and active lane keeping assist.
Mercedes-Benz says its ladder-type frame forms the basis for heavy-duty transport loads and off-road driving assignments. All four wheels are suspended independently with the cushy double-wishbone front axle design. The X-Class is aimed at a high-level of driving dynamics almost equal to the company’s passenger cars.
According to its maker: “Whether for a sporty driving style, comfortable long-distance touring, or off-road driving in difficult conditions, the V6 always ensures serene and efficient progress.” This was true on the Western Cape roads when I drove the X350d at its media launch last week.
It’s a terrific job of driving texture that Mercedes-Benz has done here. For comfort cruising I’m still undecided if it’s better than the Amarok.
A touch of stiffness lurks in the X-Class suspension on any strip of tarmac. It has a discernible light-footedness, its body feeling light and controlled when driven with verve on any type of road.
Both 4Matic X-Class models get rear and centre diff locks to assist the new V6 motor to boss its way past typical off-road obstacles. The engine is married to a two-speed transfer case for low-range gearing that distributes torque to any wheel or wheels with the most traction.
Three selectable all-wheeldrive modes, hill descent control and off-road ABS are available and the X-Class V6 is able to climb gradients of up to 45° and ford through water to a depth of 600mm. The vehicle didn’t miss a beat at its launch event, effortlessly clawing its way up a testing off-road course with little to no rock scraping its underbelly.
The other upside of the new V6 engine is that it gives it genuine velocity on open roads. The engine delivers ample power to spear past slower traffic, or towards its 205km/h top speed.
Also useful will be its one-ton payload rating and 3.2 tons of towing capability.
Admittedly, I drove it more vigorously on the tarmac sections, and the X350d I spent the day in returned an average 11.5l/100km/h, though Merc’s claimed figure of 9.0l may be achievable with restraint.
Drawbacks? The mechanical feel of the transmission gate feels too flimsy. Regardless, if you’re on the prowl for a V6powered luxury pick-up, this is one of only two brand options. And it’s also a good one. Mercedes-Benz X350d R904,188 Mercedes-Benz X350d Power R973,188
Prices include a maintenance plan that covers six years or 100,000km. Progressive
With a segmentleading 190kW of power the X350d ups the ante. Left: The cabin is classy and typical Benz design tastes.