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New Mercedes X-Class: Could the X220d cut it as a farm bakkie?

2018-03-22 09:16

Cape Town - After the shock announcement that the new Mercedes-Benz X-Class will be priced at a significant premium in the local market, it is perhaps time for some context. 

Although most double-cab bakkies are now deputised as family vehicles for urbanites, doubling as high-riding five-seaters during the week and adventure sport vehicles over weekends, the true test of any double-cab remains farm life.

This is where the double-cab bakkie first conquered South African private buyers, making them believe in the concept of a bakkie becoming a dual-purpose family or work vehicle. 

READ: X-Class prices for SA - Here's how much Mercedes' 4X4 auto bakkies cost

If the above-mentioned logic is applied to X-Class, there is only one derivative which could be sensible for farm use - X220d 4x2 Progressive manual.

This entry-level X-Class is what many true farm bakkies are: Rear-wheel drive, manual and without superfluous styling features - that you're sure to ruin if you're driving cattle between acacia trees.

Unfortunately, it's also priced at the wrong side of R600 000, which makes it more expensive than any Japanese 4x4 rival with an automatic gearbox. Search for a comparable Hilux or Ranger rival, and they are nearly R200 000 cheaper in 4x2 trim, with a manual. 

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Pricing issues aside, could an X220d deliver as a working double-cab? It's certainly capable enough when graded on loadability and towing capacity.

Even the base X220d's 2.3-litre turbodiesel engine registers a 3.2t tow rating and its capacious load bin carries 1067kg.

A Hilux 2.4 carries 197kg less on the back and only tows 2.75t, whereas Ford’s Ranger 2.2 tows more than both X220d or Hilux, at 3.5t, an carries 1075kg in the load bin, a marginal 8kg better than the Mercedes. 

X220d’s engine outputs are average, boasting 120kW and 403Nm from its single-turbo Nissan 2.3-litre engine. Toyota’s 2.4-litre Hilux diesel produces 10kW and 3Nm less, whilst Ford's Ranger 2.2 has only two fewer kilowatts than the X220d but admits a 15Nm torque deficit.

The X-Class is heavier than most rival bakkies due to the additional chassis strengthening and suspension upgrades Mercedes-Benz engineers have added to its Navara platform, and as such, performance could be regarded as leisurely in single-turbo X220d configuration. 

X-Class also offers three solid colours for X220d which aren't metallic, a crucial consideration when ordering a vehicle almost guaranteed to work in an environment which predisposes it to paint scratching and panel damage. The repair and colour-matching of a solid colour is notable less expensive than any metallic colour. 

Attractively styled and unquestionably a safer high-speed gravel cruising double-cab than any other, the X220d Progression 4x2 simply doesn’t have a significant power or load capacity advantage over its rivals and the pricing discrepancy is alarmingly massive.

We've tabled the 2.4 Hilux and 2.2 Ranger as rivals, but you could easily substitute those for 2.8 and 3.2 derivatives of each, which offer much better power and torque outputs than X220d and still have a very tidy amount of change left after purchase for what you'd have paid for the X-Class.

The Hilux 2.4 double-cab 4x2 manual is R442 700 and Ford's similarly configured Ranger 2.2 retails for R484 900. And the X220d? R642 103.

Unless Mercedes decides to import the very basic specification X-Class Pure, which comes with steel wheels and a more competitive price point, there's very little chance of any X220d bakkie, sporting aftermarket cattle rails, rolling up to Nampo agricultural show in Bothaville any time soon. 

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