Mercedes-Benz X-Class with V6-en­gined diesel lands in SA


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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.

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