First Drive: Is The New X-Class A True Mercedes Of Pickup Trucks?

It’s been a little over one year since Mercedes gave us a taste of their first ever mid-size pickup truck in the form of the X-Class Concept, and now, we’ve driven the real deal on both motorways and snow-covered mountain roads.

This isn’t just Mercedes’ first pickup truck, but the first such mid-size vehicle for any premium automaker, which the Germans themselves will happily point out, while also highlighting the fact that they were also the first to the luxury SUV game with the M-Class.

Whether the X-Class will have the same effect on the industry, spurring other premium manufacturers to follow suit, remains to be seen.

Benz’ mid-size premium pickup is aimed at a wide range of individuals, who don’t necessarily have specific (or heavy duty) professional needs, but are looking for a light duty truck with a premium badge.

A Tale Of Two Halves

By now, most of you probably know that the X-Class shares the same underpinnings as the Nissan Navara NP300 and the Renault Alaskan. It also shares some of the styling, which is quite evident unless you’re looking at it directly from the front.

In the flesh, the production model isn’t as imposing as any of the two X-Class concepts from last year, the Stylish Explorer and the Powerful Adventurer. Then again, concepts are meant to make an impression on shows and very rarely make the transition to the production line without a host of changes.

Buying an X-Class will cost you a lot less than a GLE, and that’s been made possible, as the company admits, by teaming up with Nissan, which meant there were restrictions to what Merc’s designers could (or couldn’t) change. The badge does help, obviously, as does the elegant and purposeful Mercedes-Benz design language around the front fascia; you’d probably think it was a Mercedes SUV if you saw it in your rear-view mirror.

If styling is anywhere near the top of your list, we recommend you spring for the flagship ‘Power’ model, as it looks considerably more upscale than the base ‘Pure’ or the mid-range ‘Progressive’ ones. Which, as we shall see, does have a lot to do with the interior, too.

Choose Your “Class” Wisely

The reason why you should care whether you buy a top-spec X-Class or the entry or mid-level model goes a little bit beyond just equipment levels. Jumping from the mid-spec Progressive model into the flagship Power version feels a lot like making the switch between a regular Ford and a Vignale, quality-wise. The materials not only look better – they are better, as you get leather on top of the dashboard and door panels, like you would expect on a Mercedes-Benz, instead of hard plastics.

At its best, the X-Class can pull off a “Mercedes feel” once you take a seat behind its leather-wrapped three-spoke steering wheel, but again, this applies to the Power version, otherwise the quality level is pretty much on par with the industry standard. Not a bad thing per se, but it might disappoint some customers who expect a certain level of quality from a Mercedes.

Otherwise, the interior is well laid out and the ergonomics are sound, with all vital commands within reach. The only problem I had was the poor visibility up front once I started using the wipers to clear away all the snow and mud being kicked around. It accumulated right next to the already thick A-pillar, making it even harder to see around tight corners.

A base trim will land you some fairly decent standard equipment on the entry-level ‘Pure’ model, such as the ‘Tunja’ black fabric upholstery, manually adjustable driver’s and co-driver’s seats, chrome outlining and high-gloss black details around the air vents, 7-inch infotainment display with Bluetooth connectivity and available USB ports, air conditioning and a reversing camera.

As expected, it’s the flagship Power spec that comes with all the bells and whistles, like LED headlights and taillights, retractable/heated side mirrors, lumbar support for the electrically-adjustable driver and passenger seats, keyless go, cruise control, Active Brake Assist, Thermotronic climate system and more.

There’s also a quite comprehensive list of optional extras, such as 19” wheels, 360-degree camera, Comand Online system, 7-speed automatic gearbox, brown leather, and the Winter package, this being the spec I enjoyed most, mostly thanks to the nut brown Artico leather with top-stitching. It’s the type of thing you expect from a Mercedes-Benz product.

As for how roomy the X-Class is, there’s plenty of space in the front, although the rear can get a little cramped if you’re a reasonably tall individual and you like to travel with ample knee and leg room.

Heavy Foot? Heavy Car

After driving the X250d across various surfaces, from motorways to back roads, plus some mild off-roading (we’ll get to that in a bit), I’m quite confident in saying that its 2.3-liter turbo-diesel engine, even with 190 PS (there’s a 160 PS version, too), could use more power the same way a mountain climber could use extra oxygen on his way to the summit.

Like its rivals such as the VW Amarok or the Ford Ranger, the X-Class is a heavy vehicle, weighing over 2.2 tons (4,850 lbs) if you add the 4MATIC all-wheel drive system. That makes it heavier than a GLE, which generally carries well over 200 horses.

The figures state that the X250d gets from 0 to 100 km/h (62 mph) in 11.8 seconds, yet it’s at high speed where the X-Class struggles most. With that in mind, the upcoming V6 diesel that’s due in 2018 should make for a much better purchase if you really want the best of both worlds, as it will have 258 PS and 550 Nm (405) of torque.

Otherwise, the X250d 4MATIC should still satisfy those who enjoy low-end grunt and, most of all, silence – yes, the diesel-powered X-Class is surprisingly quiet for its segment, at idle as well as on the move, keeping wind and tire noise in check. Paired with the good overall ride quality, it’s a solid achievement for the boys from Stuttgart.

As for handling and maneuverability, it’s pretty much what you’d expect from a mid-size pickup truck, meaning the steering is on the numb side (albeit good for a pickup truck) and it feels heavy at low speeds, while the poor turning cycle will often force you to perform multiple maneuvers during parking. At regular and motorway speeds, the X-Class feels sufficiently planted and stable, similar to most of its truck rivals, but not as good as an SUV.

No Tarmac? No Problem

We didn’t do any serious off-roading with the X-Class, but we did tackle plenty of snowy and rough surfaces that would normally make a regular family crossover struggle to make it through. The X-Class handled itself with poise and felt sturdy regardless of what the course threw at it. The ride was also smoother than in most, if not all, other mid-size pickup trucks I’ve driven.

The X250d can go about its business using either rear-wheel drive, or, when the going gets tough, four-wheel drive (4H – High or 4L – Low). It’s not permanent AWD though, which is a feature reserved for the X350d.

You can also haul a payload of 1.1 tonnes (2,425 lbs) with it, and tow as much as 3.5 tonnes (7,716 lbs). As for what it can really do in extreme conditions, it’s got a maximum fording depth of 600 mm (23.6 in), a 30-degrees angle of approach and you can tilt it at nearly 50 degrees (49 to be precise).

A Merc That’s Priced Close To A Volkswagen

If you’re truly in the market for a mid-size pickup, you might be intrigued to learn that, in certain markets, the X is similarly priced to something like a Ford Ranger Double Cab. We already know that the X-Class starts off from €37,294 in Germany, whereas UK buyers will spend upwards of £27,310 – about the same as you would on a VW Amarok, albeit the V-Dub comes with a V6 TDI engine as standard over there. A quick round-up of all the numbers does show that you’d spend a little more on the X-Class, but for fans of the star, the price gap could be considered negligible.

Unfortunately for US-buyers, the X-Class isn’t coming their way. It will, however, make it to South Africa, Australia and New Zealand in early 2018, with Argentina and Brazil to follow in early 2019.

So, What’s The Verdict?

We didn’t really know what to expect from the X-Class at first. The concept looked pretty good and its cabin was definitely an upgrade compared to any mid-size pickup out there. In production reality though, unless you go for the flagship model, you’re not getting the whole Mercedes-Benz experience you might expect if you’re used to their passenger cars. So yes, the X-Class is at its best when it’s got everything going for it, but in the end, that’s understandable seen as how it’s not designed from scratch and, more importantly, it’s competitively priced, especially for a Benz.

Let’s just go ahead and call the X-Class a very strong swing at the mid-size pickup segment crown. Time will tell if it can actually claim it, seeing as how there are so many competent alternatives out there, but a) it’s got some pretty strong features going for it, and b) it’s the only one wearing a premium badge, which might very well play into its hand.

Photos: Andrei Tobosaru/Mercedes-Benz Vans Romania

PHOTO GALLERY

  • lagunas3ca

    Might be the ugliest truck I have ever seen. Glad I don’t have to see them driving around in the US.

  • gor134

    I would rather get a Nissan Navara or a Volkswagen Amarok. The concept was beautiful. The production model is ugly.

  • TheBelltower

    I want to hate this so bad. And I’m not sure that Nissan was the best automaker with whom to partner on a pickup truck. But I kinda like it. I do.

    I feel dirty.

    • Bo Hanan

      (Smile)

  • ediotsavant

    Bring this Over!

    • Robert

      …so we can kill it with fire?

  • Christian Wimmer

    I don’t mind the fact that this car is based on a Nissan. Nissan makes good cars and it made perfect sense from a development point of view. The X-Class is also the type of working vehicle aimed at not your typical Mercedes’ buyer (like the Renault Kangoo-based Mercedes Citan or the cheap trim levels (Vito) of the V-Class). I get that and I think Mercedes were smart to team up with Nissan to build this car.

    My main issue is that the X-Class concept looked great, and the production version looks rather tame. I did see my first X-Class at a local dealership days ago. Truth be told, they do look better in person (especially in higher spec trim) and the interior isn’t that bad at all. The cabin won’t blow you away like most new Mercedes’ interiors, but it did feel and appear to be well-made and of decent material quality. At this price point they are fine, in my opinion. But the design, particularly the headlight and grille design, looked so much better on the concept. Here’s an idea: When it’s time to facelift the X-Class, make it look like the concept! 🙂

    I would not say no to an X-Class if someone gave me one. A car is a car. And I am kinda itching to test drive one for fun.

    • BGM

      Never say no to free things, that’s just common sense. However, there’s no way I’d ever buy this thing. It’s a car that I strongly feel deserves to fail miserably. No idea how much it’ll cost but being MB it’s probably going to be premium priced. If anyone were to choose this over an F150 I’ll show you a badge snob.

      • Christian Wimmer

        Well this car does not compete with an F-150 – it’s more of a competitor to the Ford Ranger Pickup.

        The pricing on the X-Class is actually quite “reasonable” due to the use of an already developed Nissan platform.

      • Status

        You should say no to free bacterial infections from the public. Nobody would ever say yes to a free common cold. THAT is just common sense.

    • Miknik

      Codeveloping commercial vehicles is not an issue, most companies do that. I would even say the restyle doens#t look half bad here. However, what sets the X-Class apart form your average European Van rebadges or the Mitsubishi Pickup with a Fiat badge is that it costs approx. 50% more than the comparable Nissan version in base trim in major European markets; that is just ridiculous…

      • Christian Wimmer

        It‘s definitely more expensive than the mainstream brands. I don‘t know what goes on in the mind of the typical buyer of these things, but if I were to buy a practical and versatile car like the Mercedes Citan, I would get the cheaper Renault Kangoo version first (or the Citroen Berlingo, Peugeot Partner Tepee, Volkswagen Caddy etc.).

        I do see the appeal of a Mercedes-badged pickup, and I suppose for some people the badge is important. Let‘s not forget that price is not necessarily the deal breaker for most people. The X-Class may drive better than its rivals, its seating position may be better or it feels more special… I don‘t know, but there‘s always something tangible and intangible in a car that will convince someone to purchase it.

        • Miknik

          But in a rebadge, seating position can#t be much different, and as it is a Nissan underneath, it won#t drive drastically different. Whilst I do also find the A-Class to just drive and feel like every other hatchback, it is at least not a rebadged say Nissan Pulsar. You can tell yourself it feels different or better, but the X-Class is mostly cosmetics; I’d say the generally more attractive dashboard and more desirable badge would be worth a grand or two, but a 12k Euro premium over the comparable Nissan is quite steep; Probably it includes a penalty for badge snobbery 😉

  • BlackPegasus

    Dear god why? 🙄

  • MarketAndChurch

    You could probably say that it’s the most European truck to ever come out: Small, agile, well-made with nice touches and finishes throughout, decent mpg.

    But the most luxurious mass-market trucks currently being produced, or dare I say, the S-class of trucks, are being made by Ford.

    • Belthronding Tinuviel

      how are GMC Trucks in general?

      • MarketAndChurch

        They’re great trucks, as are Chevy’s. The industry leader in luxury features and advanced technologies packed into a truck remains Ford at the moment. But yeah, if you want a truck to do truck stuff with, you really can’t go wrong with any of the offerings out there, and that includes the Nissan Titan. Most people will be fine with the Toyota Tundra, or even the Honda Ridgeline, though if you’re looking for something more heavy duty or towing prowess, you’re better off with Nissan/Dodge, Ford, or GMC/Chevy.

        • Belthronding Tinuviel

          Got it! Thanks for your time!
          İt seems ford is no 1 if it is about trucks,i also like design of it.

        • FactChecker90803

          The Nissan Titan is a Design Disaster, only saving Grace is the Cummings V8 DIESEL, other then that, the Titan is Already a Dated when it’s compared to the New RAM, Silverado, Sierra and F150.

  • NOTING ABOUT THIS SAYS PREMIUM FROM THE DRAB REAR TO THE CHEESY INTERIOR IT LOOKS RATHER BUDGET TO ME.

  • Jake
  • DR.FUNK

    Ford…Ram…& GMC needn’t lose any sleep.
    This thing would be little more than lot clutter in the U.S.
    Really nothing to see here.

    • Matt

      It doesn’t compete with full-size trucks because it isn’t one.. it’s rivals are from VW, Toyota and Nissan.

      • FactChecker90803

        You Forget the Colorado/Canyon offerings from GM and the Ford Ranger.

  • Roger Fraser

    Everyone hates it – makes me want it even more…
    American trucks don’t fit on New Zealand roads and parking spaces are too small – Americans will surely hate this vehicle.
    I have owned Mercedes for over 30-years and will be the first in the sales department at launch of the V6 model – but I am REALLY disappointed they dropped petrol engines from the range (I was put off diesel after constant reliability issues with my last truck – Hilux TDi).
    But, times have changed, and I have been told that dirty diesel things are better these days and not so prone to injector and cylinder head issues so I am going to take a chance knowing that the V6 will be a Mercedes power plant.
    Still annoyed that the main concept styling was changed so much.

    • FactChecker90803

      Why compare it to a Full Size American Truck, when you can get a Holden Colorado or Ford Ranger.

      And too bad Holden does not import the GMC Canyon, it has a better more upscale INTERIOR then the Colorado, especially in its Denali Edition.

Volkswagen T-Cross Is Almost Ready To Enter The Subcompact SUV Fray

Volkswagen will assemble the T-Cross in Brazil and sales should start before the end of the year.

Bid On This 1985 Audi Quattro And Fulfill Your Childhood Rally Dreams

This 1985 Tornado Red Audi Quattro is said to be one of just 99 examples sold in Canada.

The Koenigsegg Regera Is A 1,500 HP Single-Gear Torque Monster

A twin-turbo V8 and no less than three electric motors are mated to a revolutionary transmission.

Army Green Wide-Body Audi RS6 Avant Is Ready For The Apocalypse

This matte green RS6 comes from South Africa and has been fitted with many custom parts.

Toyota Could Kill Off Some U.S. Models If Trump Enforces Tariffs

Depending on Trump’s decision, some might be produced locally while others could be withdrawn.

Breaking: Sergio Marchionne Out As FCA And Ferrari CEO Following Complications With Surgery

Marchionne’s condition has “worsened significantly in recent hours” .

Is $65,000 Crazy Money For A 2019 Ram 1500 Truck?

The Ram 1500 Limited is the nameplate’s flagship version, costing as much as a base-spec Porsche Cayenne.

Trade Secrets From GM, Toyota, Tesla, More Exposed After Data Breach

Anyone with an internet connection and some knowledge could access sensitive information.

Bugatti Recalls Two Chirons, Will Fly The Seats To France To Fix The Airbags

Bugatti goes to great lengths to ensure it takes good care of its vaunted customers, .

Ken Block’s Ford Escort RS Cosworth Destroyed By Fire After Rally Crash

Ken Block’s Ford Escort is no more, but thankfully both he and his co-driver got out without any injuries.