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On-test: Mercedes X-Class - Too premium for a pickup?

For those not totally convinced by Land Rover’s latest Discovery, we take a look at Mercedes premium pickup. While it may originate from Nissan’s Navara, changes from the German firm run deep beneath its sleek exterior.

 

Geoff Ashcroft reports.

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Sold by Merc van dealers, do not expect to see this commercial vehicle in your local car dealership.
Sold by Merc van dealers, do not expect to see this commercial vehicle in your local car dealership.

When Mercedes Benz completes its X-Class pickup range later this year, it will be the second maker to offer a V6 option in its line-up. It’s a move which will put even more distance between itself and donor vehicle provider Nissan.

 

Mercedes is keen to push that distance, too. The German maker had its fingers burnt with its last commercial vehicle joint venture which resulted in the Citan van – it was, to all intents and purposes, a rebadged Renault Kangoo. And Mercedes is keen to avoid making the same mistake again.

It is perhaps why this latest pickup looks and feels anything but similar to the Nissan Navara on which it is based. The body is 50mm wider and, with the exception of door handles and roof aerial, is all-new.

 

Meanwhile, the wheel track has been widened by 70mm; brakes and dampers are Mercedes items; the ride height has been lowered by 20mm; the seven-speed auto box has been remapped for smoother shifting; and unlike the Navara, the X-Class provides an external temperature reading.

 

The X-Class also comes with pre-wiring for a tachograph, although you will agonise over where to fit it. Merc could have created a single DIN slot above the climate control panel to simplify installation. Disappointingly, the X-Class misses out on a steering column which can be adjusted for reach.

Load space benefits from a useful tie-down system
Load space benefits from a useful tie-down system

The 2.3-litre Euro 6 compliant diesel comes in two power outputs and can be linked to a six-speed manual or seven speed auto. Lashings of sound insulation make this imperiously quiet for a pickup, helping to stamp out its authority as a premium machine, backed up by three trim levels.

It is practical too, packing a load securing kit which will be familiar to Nissan owners, while an electric sliding rear middle window option will help with movement of lengthy items.

A factory towbar option comes with trailer stability assist to make the most of its 3.5 tonne towing capacity, and clever tech brings hill start assist, hill descent control, 360-degree camera, brake assist, tyre pressure monitoring and a reversing camera.

Cab interior mimmicks that of Mercedes’ car range, and is opulently finished for a pickup.
Cab interior mimmicks that of Mercedes’ car range, and is opulently finished for a pickup.

The Snowdonia venue for the X-Class launch highlighted what you would expect a premium pickup to be. It rides confidently thanks to a multi-link rear suspension system, runs quietly and shifts smoothly.

 

So is it too good for farm work? Undoubtedly, but so too are many others which get subjected to the same working environment.

 

And what of the V6 version? It is a powertrain rumoured to be coming from Merc’s E-Class All Terrain model, offering a nine-speed auto, 258hp and permanent four-wheel drive. It should keep VW’s Amarok V6 honest, though we suspect it is unlikely to compete on price.

 

For those divided by Land Rover’s latest Discovery, this is well worth a closer look as an alternative, though we would hold fire until the X-Class V6 arrives.

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