Driven: Mercedes-Benz X-Class X350d V6 Review

The world was cynical when Mercedes-Benz revealed the X-Class. Based on the Nissan Navara, and built on the same production line, the fear was that the X-Class, even with V6 power, was little more than a branding exercise, a glitter-covered facsimile of the Japanese model to review and move on from.

Thankfully, there was rather more to it than that, with the X-Class having several mechanical upgrades to improve refinement while also ensuring that it remained a proper workhorse. Granted, a leather-clad, chrome-covered, Mercedes-badged workhorse, but it still counts.

Unfortunately, that wasn’t enough to ensure strong sales and so, just three years later, the X-Class is facing its final curtain. However, there are still plenty of these pickups left, with good availability and some cracking finance deals. Given that, is it worth giving the truck a second chance?

Mercedes-Benz X-Class V6 under review
Mercedes-Benz X-Class V6: Exterior

The X-Class might have slightly divisive design work, but it looks every inch a Mercedes. Certainly, there’s far more to the metalwork than simply replacing the Nissan badge with a three-pointed star, with only the doors (although they’ve been reskinned) and a handful of small trim pieces being shared between the two models.

We’ve got the Power specification to test here, which means you get a body-coloured front bumper with chrome underguard, 18-inch alloy wheels and chrome highlights dotted all over the pickup. That contrasts with the Progressive trim level, which is rather more utilitarian, missing out on the chrome and coming with black plastic bumpers.

None of it masks the bulk of the X-Class which, at 5,340mm, is slightly larger than the Nissan Navara upon which it’s based. The huge front grille and high bonnet line look even larger with the relatively small headlights either side, but the overall effect makes for a good-looking vehicle.

Mercedes-Benz X-Class V6 under review
Mercedes-Benz X-Class V6: Interior

You would expect Mercedes-Benz to excel here, with its experience in cars and SUVs easy to transfer to the world of pickups. At first glance, everything looks spectacular; the seats are trimmed in pleasant Artico faux-leather and microfibre upholstery, and there’s an 8.4-inch infotainment screen that perches above a quartet of distinctive air vents.

It’s only when you start using it that you realise things aren’t quite as well thought out as they could be. The infotainment system, for example, is rather dated. It works well enough, but there’s no sign of Android Auto or Apple CarPlay, and the navigation system is an astonishing £2,290+VAT optional extra. If you don’t specify that, you only get a 7.0-inch screen, too. If you’re happy with the smaller screen, it’s possible to buy a Garmin navigation SD card, plug that in, and get a basic sat-nav capability.

While there’s plenty of space for occupants, in both the front and rear seats, there’s a disappointing lack of places to put, well, anything. Cubby holes and pockets are noticeable by their absence, with there being nothing but the glovebox (usually full of manuals), a cupholder and a couple of door pockets to take your detritus. Even finding a space for a mobile phone is difficult.

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You might not have an issue with that on a test drive, but you’ll soon find it frustrating when living with it, and almost excludes the X-Class from being a viable form of family transport.

Mercedes-Benz X-Class V6 under review
Mercedes-Benz X-Class V6: On the Road

Buy a Progressive spec X-Class and you get a 2.3-litre engine from Nissan. It’s a fine engine, producing 163 or 190hp depending on how much you spend, which is enough to keep up with all but the most enthusiastic of traffic.

Go for this Power model and the only option is a 3.0-litre twin-turbo V6 unit. With 258hp and 550Nm of torque, it doesn’t so much accelerate as push the earth backwards. For the record, it’ll accelerate to 62mph in just 7.9 seconds, half a second behind the Volkswagen Amarok V6.

Such surfeit of power ensures that you’ll rarely be left wanting on the road, making overtaking moves safer, and leaving occupants more relaxed as day-to-day use is so far within the truck’s comfort zone. Even the seven-speed automatic gearbox is smooth, rarely making its presence felt.

Having 18-inch wheels doesn’t impact ride quality too much, either. Still, with 60-section tyres, there’s plenty of travel to absorb most surface imperfections, although it can get caught out by some fixed frequency ripples that end up resonating through the cabin. Optional 19-inch wheels add a harsher edge, but the X-Class still rides well.

Mercedes-Benz X-Class V6: Off Road

The effort that Mercedes has gone to in order to create the X-Class means the vehicle is very much focussed on road-based driving, but it’s still got to make it through the rough stuff. Fortunately, it’s as capable as (nearly) all of its rivals, with permanent four-wheel-drive and a selectable low-range gearbox.

However, to get where you really want to go will cost a little extra. The X-Class is fitted with road-biased summer tyres as standard, but can be specified with all-season or winter options for £162+VAT. Likewise, the sharp handling on tarmac means it’s lower than you might like, but you can lift the pickup by 20mm for an extra £225+VAT. Likewise, a rear diff-lock can be added at a cost of £510+VAT.

All of that counts for nothing in the bone-dry tracks near Settle, where the X-Class was being put to the test. Frankly, a Vauxhall Astra could probably have made it through there. However, the pickup performed capably when I put it through its paces in a wintery Wales a couple of years ago, where I couldn’t defeat the continuously adjustable differential, a device that ensures the wheel with the most grip gets most power. The result is a truck able to climb at 45 degrees without any fuss, wade through 600mm of water and occasionally scrape the ground thanks to low ground clearance of just 201mm.

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Approach angle (°)29Climbing angle limit (°)45
Departure angle (°)24Ground clearance (mm)201
Ramp angle limit (°)20.4Wading depth (mm)600
Side angle limit (°)49.8
Mercedes-Benz X-Class V6 under review
Mercedes-Benz X-Class V6: Payload and Towing

At 1,587mm long, the load bay of the X-Class is shorter than only the Ford Ranger and the SsangYong Musso LWB’s box. That suggests you’ll be able to load up a lot into the back, but you’ve got to remember that the V6 model here weighs in at 2,233kg when empty.

Payload does tip over the magic one-tonne mark though, with a limit of 1,067kg. The gross vehicle weight is given as 6,180kg, and the towing limit is set at a class-leading 3,500kg. Towing the maximum allowed, you’re left with spare capacity of 447kg for the remaining passengers and cargo.

Measuring 1,560mm wide (and 1,215mm between the wheel arches) there’s enough space for a euro pallet. The tailgate folds down flat, as you would expect, but there are no hydraulics to take the strain when lifting it back up.

When towing, the stability control system extends to the trailer, effectively providing trailer sway control. 

Kerb weight (kg)2,233Load bay length (mm)1,587
Gross vehicle weight (kg)3,300Load bay width (mm)1,560
Payload (kg)1,067Load bay height (mm)431
Gross vehicle mass (kg)6,180Load bay capacity (l)N/A
Towing capacity braked (kg)3,500Towing capacity unbraked (kg)750
Mercedes-Benz X-Class V6: Verdict

If you don’t require ultimate off-road capability, and spend most of your time ploughing up and down the country on the motorway, then there’s a lot to like about the X-Class. Even with the 3.0-litre engine, it’s not too thirsty – I averaged 30.7mpg over a couple of weeks, against an official economy figure of 33.6mpg.

The biggest issue is the price, with the windscreen sticker showing an asking price of £39,510+VAT. However, keen to support businesses post-lockdown (or keen to shift remaining stocks, you decide) Mercedes-Benz has some cracking finance deals. This means the V6 Power model tested here can be yours for three years for £370 a month, with a £3,841 deposit.

Sadly, that still leaves it costing quite a bit more than a top-of-the-range Nissan Navara and, once you’ve factored in other costs, more than a Volkswagen Amarok V6. The Nissan will go further off-road too, while the Amarok is every bit as comfortable on the road.

It all makes it rather difficult to recommend the X-Class, which is the position the vehicle has been in since launch. It really is a capable off-roader, and it really is a supremely comfortable on-roader, and yes, it really does feel like a real Mercedes-Benz. But that all comes at a price, and that price is just too high.

Model tested: Mercedes-Benz X-Class Power X 350 d V6 4MATIC

OTR Price£47,412CV OTR Price£39,510
Reclaimable VAT£7,902CV Price Range£29,365-£39,510