The Mercedes-Benz X-Class is one of the newest pickup trucks on the market, having been launched at the back end of 2017. By far the most luxurious and expensive pickup on the market, the X-Class is only available as a double-cab although there is a choice between a 2.3-litre (X220D or X250D) or a 3.0-litre V6 (X350D) diesel engine.
Daimler – the parent company to Mercedes-Benz – is the world’s largest manufacturer of commercial vehicles but it didn’t compete in the industry’s fastest growing segment; one-tonne, 4×4 pickups.
Demand for these vehicles has been growing around the world for the past decade; South America, Africa, Australia, Asia and Europe. Despite Daimler’s expertise in both commercial vehicles and 4×4 vehicles, the German manufacturer decided to turn to its alliance partner, Nissan (Renault-Nissan-Daimler Alliance), for expertise.
Merc’s new pickup would be based on the Navara and built at Nissan’s Barcelona factory, but was heavily re-engineered and the differences between the Mercedes-Benz X-Class and the Nissan Navara is a lot more than just a new front and interior.
Engineers at Daimler have spent the last couple of years widening the track, altering the suspension and adding over 100kg of sound proofing to improve driving characteristics and refinement. What’s more, the X-Class is also available with Merc’s own 3.0-litre, six-cylinder turbo-diesel model.
Mercedes-Benz X-Class specification
The Mercedes-Benz X-Class is specced unlike any pickup truck that we’ve seen before. There are three trim levels (Pure, Progressive and Power), and even the entry-level model fog lights, air conditioning, central locking, 12v sockets, a reversing camera, cruise control and the Audio 20 system which includes a CD player, satellite navigation, DAB radio, Bluetooth, steering-wheel mounted controls and a 7-inch touchscreen display.
Moving up to the mid-level Progressive, the extras are mainly focused on the outside. The utilitarian black plastic bumpers are replaced by colour-coded bumpers and door mirrors, chrome handles and side sills and heated door mirrors. On the inside, chrome surrounds on the air vents, carpet flooring and a more luxury fabric upholstery is added.
Flagship Power models are furnished with 18-inch alloy wheels, chrome bumper and detailing in the grille, LED lights, folding mirrors, leather seats (electrically 8-way adjustable in the front) and more.
Mercedes-Benz X-Class cab interior
Asides from the obvious luxury, the second thing that struck us upon entering the cab of the X-Class was its low stance. The seating position is also quite low which, combined with the high bonnet, proved to be quite an obstacle to seeing objects close to the bumper and we had to rely on the 360-degree camera to avoid hitting anything.
Another slight criticism is the storage. Unlike other pickup truck models that focus on practicality, there seems to be a lot of ‘dead space’ in the X-Class cab and very few useful storage compartments. Apart from that, the interior scores pretty well with the comfortable seats and fit and finish receiving full marks.
Mercedes-Benz X-Class engine, transmission and handling
The X-Class is the only pickup truck other than the Ford Ranger to be offered with two different engines. Nissan’s 2.3-litre, 4-cylinder engine is available on all models (X220D 161bhp/403Nm and X250D 188bhp/450Nm), while Merc’s own 3.0-litre V6 (X350D 251bhp/550Nm) is reserved for the top-spec ‘Power’ models.
The engines are hooked to either a 6-speed manual or either of two 7-speed automatics; the first of which is Nissan’s own and mated to 2.3-litre engines (X220D and X250D) while Merc’s 7G Tronic is fitted to the X350D V6 and comes with five driver settings; Comfort, Eco, Sport, Manual and Off-Road. The X350D V6 models are also permanent 4-wheel drive.
Despite sharing the same underpinnings as the Navara, the X-Class weighs in around 200kg (over 10%) heavier and a lot of that gain comes from the extra lead required for soundproofing resulting in the smoothest and quietest ride of any pickup truck. The steering is precise and there’s ample feedback, and there is very little lean going into the bends.
Acceleration times (0 to 62mph) vary considerably between 12.9 seconds for the X220D, 11.8 seconds for the X250D and just 7.5 seconds for the X350D.
Mercedes-Benz X-Class towing and load area
The X-Class isn’t simply a luxury 4×4 to look pretty on a driveway; there’s some seriously practical elements to it too. For example, the 1,578mm long load bed is the longest in its class, and the 1,578mm width isn’t far from class-leading either. In terms of weights, payloads vary between a respectable 1,066 and 1,087kg and there’s an industry-leading 3.5t towing capacity.
Mercedes-Benz X-Class Off-road
The independent rear suspension takes to the inconsistencies and bumps of the dirt track much better than the traditional solid live rear axle with leaf spring arrangement for a number of reasons. The most obvious advantage is that there isn’t the loud ‘bang’ and ‘shudder’ when you hit bumps, although it also helps the wheels maintain contact with the ground better which increases traction and safety.
On extreme terrain however, the independent suspension becomes a bit of a hinderance as its not able to articulate to anywhere near the degree of a solid rear axle. Another issue is the low stature; the X-Class rides with just 201mm ground clearance and this is reflected in the low approach and departure angles (29 and 24 degrees) and wading depth (500mm).
However, the 4-wheel drive systems themselves are impressive. X220D and X250D models receive Nissan’s respected selectable 4WD system while the X350D gets Merc’s own permanent system with a 40:60 torque split under normal driving conditions. A rear differential lock will set you back an additional £495.
Mercedes-Benz X-Class price and availability
The X-Class has been in UK dealerships since December 2017 and prices vary between £27,350 and £38,350 plus VAT – making it by far the most expensive pickup on sale. The X-Class, however, is expected to hold its value well and it is backed by the most respected LCV dealer network with a three-year, unlimited mileage warranty.
One of the downsides of the X-Class’s weight is its fuel economy. Combined figures on the smaller 2.3-litre engine vary between 31.4mpg and 37.2mpg, depending on transmission and output, which falls slightly short of pickups with a similar performance.