Mercedes would not fail to join a single niche and, with the help provided by its partner, Nissan, it intrudes the segment of the luxury pick-ups. First test drive with the Mercedes X 250 d 4Matic Automatic, with the top of the range equipment line, Power.
Worldwide, the pick-up is, by its nature, a work vehicle, a work horse. For the past few years though, the pick-up started to turn more attractive when it comes to other purposes as well and it seems that the expansion of the SUVs also generated an emulation in the pick-up segment, in which there is an ever-expanding demand for the better equipped models, used for other than their utility purpose.
That is just why it is not accidental that there are models such as the Ford Ranger Wildtrak (5-cylinder 3.2-liter 200-HP engine) or the VW Amarok Canyon (V6 TDI engine with 204 HP) and the Aventura (V6 TDI engine of 224 HP) rising with prices that are well above the 40,000 Euros mark and provide top of the range equipment. Mercedes has identified five different categories of customers for the premium pick-up truck: the construction field business man, the land owner, the successful adventurer, the independent and the families.
Within these circumstances, Mercedes called on its partner Nissan to develop a premium pick-up, the real premium one in the segment. Why was it with Nissan and not on their own?
Mercedes could have developed a pick-up based on the G-Class (they even launched a limited series of the G-Class 6×6), but that would have been way to expensive, considering that the G-Class wagon starts at 80,000 Euros.
Mercedes took the Nissan technical platform with the separate chassis, the axles and some of the engines. Actually, we are talking about two X-Class models.
The X 220 d și X 250 d models, available with a front- or an all-wheel drive and an automatic gearbox optionally available for the X 250 d, make use of the excellent 2.3-liter engines with one turbo (163 HP in the X 220 d) and two turbos (190 HP in the X 250 d) and the part-time all-wheel drive system from Nissan. The Mercedes executives have not revealed the percentage of components from Nissan in these variants.
- Excellent ride comfort for a pick-up
- Low noise level for a pick-up
- Mercedes-specific elegant interior
- Reasonable fuel consumption
- Very generous Power equipment
MAX vs MIN
- Cheap key like that of the Navara
- Higher weight than the Navara
- Higher price than the Navara
Instead, the top of the range X 350 d, that will be available starting June 2018, will make use of a turbodiesel 3.0-liter Mercedes-made V6 engine, with a Mercedes-sourced 7-speed automatic transmission and the permanent all-wheel drive system (with a 40/60% torque ratio, able to switch from 4MAT to 4H or 4L via the 1:2,9 gear ratio), so that it shall feature more Mercedes components than the 4-cylinder variants.
In some markets, there will also be a gasoline engine, the X 200, with 163 HP.
But let’s go back to the X 250 d 4Matic Automat with the Power top equipment line, that was provided for the first test drive. It benefits from a non-permanent all-wheel drive, that can switch from 4×2 into 4H and 4L. From the rotating switch located at the base of the central console, identical with the one in the Navara, the driver can switch during driving to speed up to 100 km/h from 4×2 into 4H, with a fixed torque ratio of 50-50%. Switching from 4H into the 4L with a 1:2,7 gear ratio can only be performed at a standstill, with the switch lever in the N position. For 725.90 Euros, a lock differential for the rear axle can be optionally ordered. Instead, the hill descent control is standardly fit onto the 4×4 variants.
For the models shipped across Europe, the ground clearance is of 201 mm, but for those going to South America and Australia, there shall be a standard ground clearance of 221 mm, that can be optionally ordered in Europe for extra 321.30 euro. With a higher ground clearance, the approach/departure angles are of 30.1/25.9 degrees, and despite the long wheelbase of 3,150 mm, identical to that of the Navara, the ventral angle features a good value of 22 degrees. The X-Class can pass fording depths of 600 mm, but we were expecting a better value, since there are SUVs such as Range Rover that can go through 900-mm waters deep.
Built on the platform of the Navara, the X 250 d 4Matic is easy and pleasant to drive, the driving sensation being similar, up to a point, with that provided by the Navara. Yet, the X-Class is obviously quieter, because especially the engine compartment is way better insulated, you don’t get to hear that diesel-typical sound, nor the aircraft turbine blast when you push the pedal. I personally felt that it is pleasant not to hear that old diesel crunch, yet that aircraft turbine sound when accelerating gave the feeling that you were driving an invincible vehicle. Instead, Mercedes favored a low interior noise level, compliant with its own standards and the level noise measured by us at 50 km/h, of 54.2 dBA, is the lowest to be recorded in a pick-up.
During driving, the X 250 d 4Matic feels more comfortable than the Navara, and this is visible on the road, but especially on gravel. The rigid rear multi-link axle from the Navara gives more comfort than one with leaf springs, like most the pick-ups feature, but Mercedes desired to provide even more comfort and so the rear axle underwent various changes. The effect was a success, as the X-Class drives so comfortably for a pick-up. The 4-cylinder biturbo diesel engine pulls vigorously like in the Navara and, on its account, Mercedes changed nothing, because the generous maximum torque of 450 Nm is available at 1,500 rpm already. The fuel consumption recorded throughout the test, of 9.9 l/100 km, is acceptable for this output class, considering the automatic gearbox, the all-wheel drive and quite a respectable weight. Speaking of which, the payload is of 991 kg for the test model, slightly exceeding 1,000 kg for some models.
The test drive was carried out on both tarmac and gravel, plus a short medium-difficulty off-road sector, that did not put to the test the abilities of the X-Class that must. There was just one spot, on a snow-covered uphill, where we needed to engage the 4L and the rear diff featuring in the test car. On rough terrain, the X-Class benefits from the ruggedness and the sturdiness of the chassis and the rigidness of the Navara body. Similar to that of the Navara, the automatic gearbox shows a bit of a lag when you downgrade for overtaking, and the steering is long demultiplicated, typical for a pick-up. Due to the generous equipment for comfort and of the additional sound-deadening materials, the weight of the X-Class goes 100 kg higher than that of the Navara, which can be felt in terms of dynamics (X 250 d 4Matic Aut runs 1 seconds slower to 100 km/h than the Navara powered by the very same engine), as well as in terms of road behavior on bends, where it shows a mass shim.
The interior of the X-Class is typically Mercedes and only few of the elements recall the Navara: the 4×4 switch, the seats adjustment buttons and the key. Apart from those, the interior features genuine Mercedes design, materials and ergonomics. We liked the dashboard indicators placed in an individual alveolas, the 8.4-inch display of the Comand system (extra 3,260.60 Euros for the Power equipment line, the software and the graphics are though from the Mercedes sedans a generation ago) and the leather-covered upper dashboard. X-Class is available with three equipment lines: Pure, Progressive and Power. The Power top of the line costs 9,032.10 Euros and includes a lot of equipment: the automatic Thermotronic climate, LED headlights, the 8-speaker Audio 20 infotainment system, 18-inch alloy wheels, Artico leather/ Dinamica microfiber upholstery and electric seats. The price of the entry-level model, the X 250 d 4Matic Pure, is of 40,114.90 Euros, to which you add up 1,666 Euros for the automatic transmission and 9,032.10 Euros for the Power equipment line. Those lead to a total of 50,813 Euros, 6,000 Euros more than the Navara Tekna 2.3 dCi 190 CP Aut and 5,000 Euros more than the VW Amarok Canyon V6 TDI 204 HP.
The X-Class will go on sale across Europe, Australia, South America, but not in the USA, where customers want bigger full-size pick up trucks.
|Model||X 250 4 Matic Aut.|
|Max. Output/revs (HP/rpm)||190/3,750|
|Max. torque/revs (Nm/rpm)||450/1,500-2,500|
|Transmission||part time 4wd|
|Gearbox||7 gears, automatic|
|Acceleration 0-100 km/h (s)||11,8|
|Top speed (km/h)||175|
|Mixt fuel consumption (l/100 km)||7.9|
|CO2 emissions (g/km)||207|
|Price (euro with VAT, Germany)||from 40,114.90|
VerdictBenefiting from the excellent platform of the Nissan Navara, Mercedes has developed a premium pick-up that complies with the coat of arms of Mercedes, as well as the premium coat of arms. It is more comfortable and quieter than the Navara and it features a premium interior. The price difference from the Navara is yet justified not by its dynamic performance, but by the superior comfort and the sound insulation and by its refined interior.