What is it?
There was a time when pick-up trucks were uncomfortable and a bit ragged around the edges. There was room for two in the cab, plus a bale of hay and the obligatory Border Collie riding shotgun.
But nowadays, manufacturers are producing more luxurious double cab examples, and they’re proving popular, selling at the rate of more than 50,000 per annum in the UK. The Mercedes-Benz X-Class is the latest arrival and billed as the first pick-up from a premium manufacturer.
A cargo payload of 1092kg qualifies this crewcab pickup as a light commercial vehicle (LCV), so business users can reclaim the VAT. Benefit-in-kind (BIK) taxation is much lower than that of a company car too, and at a fixed rate rather than on a sliding scale.
The X-Class is based on the underpinnings of the Nissan Navara, including its ladder chassis, engine, drivetrain and suspension with solid rear axle. Trim levels are Pure, Progressive and Power, of which the range-topping latter is expected to be the biggest seller.
What's it like?
As with the Navara, rear-wheel drive is the default, with four-wheel drive manually selectable. The upper body is all new, drawing on Mercedes’ SUV design language. It’s 50mm wider than that of the Navara, with which it shares only the radio antenna and door handles. The track is 70mm wider and X-Class customers can opt for a 20mm lower ride height. The Power model rides on 18in alloy wheels, while the lower ones get 17in wheels.
There’s a choice of 161bhp X220d and 187bhp X250d four-cylinder Nissan diesels at launch, and these will be joined by the 255bhp X350d Mercedes 3.0-litre V6 in the middle of 2018. The performance of the four-pot X250d is acceptable, although overtakes need some planning.
Gearboxes are a six-speed manual or, with the more powerful of the two diesels, the option of the seven-speed automatic tested here. The forthcoming V6 will get Mercedes' full-time four-wheel drive and nine-speed automatic transmission.
The X-Class gets a suite of driver assistance and safety features as standard, including autonomous emergency braking and traffic sign recognition. Thus equipped, the X-Class gets five stars from Euro NCAP.
Interior quality is a big step up from the Navara, with more comfortable seats and Mercedes' usual high-quality surface materials and detailing. Only the lower instrument panel is finished in hard plastic, and although this isn't pretty, it provides a tough, practical surface capable of withstanding scuffs and kicks. Stowage space for small items in the cab is scarce, though, with nowhere to casually toss small items like a mobile phone except the door bins.
Mercedes has successfully worked on the acoustic packaging to isolate any engine combustion noise from the occupants’ ears, so it’s quiet and refined. Wind and tyre noise at 70mph is impressive for a commercial vehicle, too. However, although the X-Class has car-like qualities, first-time time pick-up drivers will find its handling and steering err towards the truck-like, with some understeer, a hefty feel and a firm ride.
Should I buy one?
The test car is priced at £34,100 plus VAT, so a retail customer will pay £40,920. Mercedes has taken 1000 orders so far for the twin-turbocharged 2.3-litre diesel, but around half of potential buyers have indicated that they’ll wait for the V6. The price tag for that is bound to be hefty, but the combination of cool luxury pick-up and sublime V6 diesel should make the X-Class even more compelling.
Mercedes-Benz X-Class X250d Power 4Matic
Where Wales On sale Now Price £34,100 (ex VAT) Engine 4cyl, 2,298cc, twin-turbocharged diesel Power 187bhp at 3750rpm Torque 295lb ft at 1500-2500rpm Gearbox 7-spd automatic Kerbweight 2234kg Top speed 109mph 0-62mph 11.8sec Fuel economy 35.8mpg CO2 207g/km Rivals Volkswagen Amorak, Ford Ranger, Toyota Hilux