Need a pickup in your life but can’t cope with the thought of hard plastics and sloppy handling? Fear not! The covers have officially been pulled off the new Mercedes-Benz X-Class, the first truly premium pickup from the Stuttgart manufacturer.
Once the preserve of farmers and tree surgeons, the humble pickup has spent the last few years going upmarket, led by the VW Amarok. This means, in the UK at least, a more discerning customer base. Mercedes-Benz describes them as “trend-conscious individualists”. We think the word they were looking for was ‘hipsters’…
Of course, not all Mercedes-Benz X-Class buyers are going to use their new trucks to cruise around Shoreditch with a crate of craft beer and a fixie in the back.
In New Zealand and Germany, the X-Class needs to cater for the needs of “sporty adventurers”, while the Argentinean and Australian markets will – in the truest trucking traditions – put the pickup to work on the land.
Because of this disparate set of requirements from customers, Mercedes will offer the X-Class in three different trim specs. ‘Pure’ will provide the most rugged, functional pickup for genuine commercial users, while ‘Progressive’ adds a few styling embellishments and creature comforts.
At the top of the tree will be the X-Class ‘Power’, a pickup designed firmly with the lifestyle market in mind. Think big alloys, leather interior trim and an extensive scope for personalisation.
Despite being the first pickup from a prestige manufacturer, at its heart, the Mercedes-Benz X-Class is still a genuinely functional beast, with the cargo area capable of holding 17 full 50-litre barrels of beer. Yep, Merc have got their priorities straight.
At launch – scheduled for November this year – the X-Class will be offered with two diesel engines, the 163hp 220d and the 190hp 250d. A flagship V6 350d diesel – complete with four-wheel drive and seven-speed auto ‘box as standard – will arrive in the middle of 2018 to bolster the line-up.
The two standard oil burners can also be specced with Mercedes-Benz’s 4MATIC all-wheel drive system, while the 250d X-Class will have the option of the automatic transmission too (the 220d gets a six-speed manual).
On the dynamic front, Mercedes has worked hard to ensure the car drives like a premium car on the road, using a longer wheelbase than its pickup rivals to reduce vibration, a wider track to improve stability and vented disc brakes at all four corners to aide stopping power.
The suspension is coil sprung front and rear to improve ride comfort, even when lugging a full payload (the new X-Class can carry over a tonne of gear) and the standard European ‘comfort’ setup provides a ground clearance of 202mm, which can be increased by a further 20mm with the high suspension pack.
On top of the muscular styling, Mercedes has ensured the X-Class exudes a premium feel inside, offering a typically stylish cabin, complete with the choice of matt woodgrain, brushed aluminium or matt black trim on the top-spec Power offerings.
The top of the dashboard can be trimmed with black or brown man-made leather while the dials and 5.4-inch display in the dash will be familiar to C-Class drivers. At the heart of the centre console sits Merc’s freestanding COMAND infotainment system, its 8.4-inch screen also used for the optional 360-degree camera.
There’s currently only one caveat. We don’t know how much all this extra luxury is going to cost (at least not here on UK shores). We’d expect the top-of-the-range X 350d to break through the £40,000 barrier though, making it a little bit more expensive than the V6 Amarok we test drove a few months ago.
Despite this, we’re definitely excited about the thought of throwing a couple of surfboards (maybe a scrambler too) in the back and heading cross-country to our favourite break. The X-Class could well be the perfect Flat-Out pickup.