Mercedes-Benz X-Class v Volkswagen Amarok

The Mercedes-Benz X-Class and Volkswagen Amarok are the pickups that sit at the premium end of the market. With prices starting at £27,310 and £25,600 (plus VAT) respectively, they’re far more expensive than the other vehicles in the segment – but which vehicle should you put your money towards?

Exterior styling

At 1,954mm wide (2,228mm including wing mirrors), the Amarok is the widest pickup on the market although the X-Class isn’t too far behind (1,920mm/2,113mm). The X-Class, however, is slightly longer at 5,340mm, compared with the Amarok’s 5,321mm.

Having only just been launched, the X-Class definitely looks the fresher of the two, which the Amarok’s face not changing much since its first appearance in 2011. The X-Class also looks more stylish, with its hexagonal grille and chrome highlights on the bumper, although the linear rear lights have drawn some criticism.

Mercedes-Benz X-Class v Volkswagen Amarok specification

There are the trim levels on the Mercedes-Benz X-Class (Pure, Progressive and Power) and two on the Volkswagen Amarok (Trendline and Highline).

See the model specification tables below.

Cab and interior

Volkswagen Amarok interior

Volkswagen Amarok interior

The two companies have taken a completely different approach to the cabin; Mercedes-Benz has opted for comfort and style and Volkswagen has opted for practicality and usability. The interior of the X-Class is unlike any pickup we have ever seen before; our version came with woodgrain-effect dashboard and nut brown leather.

The Amarok, on the other hand, is more reserved with hard black plastics and silver plastic highlights. The dashboard is rather bland with a boxy and edgy dashboard design, although it’s a lot more spacious and there’s better visibility thanks to the sloping bonnet. There’s also a lot more storage spaces and a larger centre cubby.

Weights and loads

Weighing in at between 2,213 and 2,234kg, the X-Class is the heaviest pickup on sale but the Amarok isn’t too far behind at between 2,150 and 2,164kg. Payloads are fairly similar, varying between 1,050kg and 1,126kg on the Amarok and 1,066kg and 1,087kg on the X-Class. The only aspect that separates the two in terms of weights is the towing capacity, the Amarok is rated at 3.1t whereas the X-Class can tow 3.5t.

There’s a slight anomaly when it comes to loading height. Official figures give the loading height of the X-Class at 854mm and the Amarok at 780mm, although these figures were measured with a half-tonne in the back – the Amarok sits a lot higher when unladen.

The Amarok’s load area is a lot wider (1,620mm v 1,560mm), although it is slightly shorter (1,555mm v 1,587mm). The X-Class has a load liner and LED lights as standard on all models, but these are optional on the entry-level Amarok Trendline.

On the road

The Amarok is powered by a 3-litre V6 engine, while the X-Class has a 2.3-litre, four-cylinder. There are power ratings of 204hp/500Nm and 224hp/550Nm on the Amarok and 163hp/403Nm and 190hp/450Nm on the X-Class. A 3-litre V6 X-Class will be available later in 2018, producing up to 258hp/550Nm.

Whereas the Amarok is a lot quicker off the market (achieving 0-62mph in just 8 seconds on the higher output; compared with a minimum of 11.8 seconds on the X-Class), the X-Class has better road handling thanks to the coil-spring suspension at the rear. There is less road and engine noise, and there is far less body roll going into the corners.

We admired the X-Class’s precise and smooth seven-speed automatic, although there is simply no beating the Amarok’s eight-speed auto, which is is undoubtedly the most refined on the market.

Off the road

Mercedes-Benz X-Class off-road

Mercedes-Benz X-Class off-road

Volkswagen Amarok off-road

Volkswagen Amarok off-road

Both vehicles’ impressive on road handling has been compromised by their off-road performance. The solid live rear axle on the Amarok provides greater suspension travel to help maintain ground contact in bumpy areas and the increased torque means that powering up steep ascents and out of divots is a lot easier.

The Amarok is available with both a selectable or permanent four-wheel drive system, whereas the X-Class is just selectable. Both vehicles have an optional rear-diff lock, and the X-Class can be raised an extra 20mm for better ground clearance.

In terms of dimensions, the Amarok has a slightly better approach angle (29.5 v 29.0) although the X-Class has a better ground clearance (201mm v 192mm), wading depth (600mm v 500mm), ramp over angle (20.4 v 15.6 degrees) and departure angle (24 v 18 degrees).

Total cost of ownership

Prices range between £25,600 and £31,415 plus VAT on the Amarok and £26,310 (backed by a three-year, 100,000 miles warranty) and £34,100 plus VAT on the X-Class (backed by a three-year, unlimited mileage warranty). Service intervals are set at 25,000 miles or two years on the Amarok 18,000 miles or two years on the X-Class.

Unsurprisingly, the X-Class comes out on top in terms of fuel economy. Combined figures vary between 35.8mpg and 37.2mpg depending on transmission and output, and 32.5mpg and 34.9mpg on the Amarok. Hourly rates for maintenance and repairs are slightly higher in the Mercedes-Benz Commercial Vehicle network than Volkswagen’s Van Centre (though both are considerably higher than the competition), although residual values are expected to be better on the X-Class.

Mercedes-Benz X-Class v Volkswagen Amarok verdict

Volkswagen Amarok v Mercedes-Benz X-Class

Volkswagen Amarok v Mercedes-Benz X-Class

Neither vehicle is without its charms, and certainly both vehicles are well-respected in the pickup segment. The Amarok comes out on top for its spacious and well-appointed cab, larger payload, its more affordable and, of course, the performance of its 3-litre V6 engine. The X-Class, however, is far more stylish inside and out, its more economical, more comfortable to drive, there’s a better towing capacity and it’s better off-road.

Model Specification Tables

Volkswagen Amarok specification

Mercedes-Benz X-Class specifications

Mercedes-Benz X-Class specifications

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Mercedes-Benz X-Class v Volkswagen Amarok

About The Author
- Liam Campbell is an award-winning journalist with a Masters degree in Automotive Journalism from Coventry University. Growing up on a farm and learning to drive in a Mark 1 Range Rover (his left thigh is still twice as big as his right), Liam likes to think he knows a thing or two about commercial 4x4s. Previously, he was the Van Editor at Parkers and resident pickup expert at Car Magazine, before taking up the post of Editor at Professional Pickup & 4x4. Follow him on Twitter https://twitter.com/maxximum_load

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