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REVIEW: Can the Mercedes-Benz X-Class bakkie perform as a daily, family vehicle?

2018-05-11 07:00

Image: Wheels24 / Warren Wilson

Janine Van der Post

Cape Town - The Mercedes-Benz X-Class bakkie has finally landed in SA having been launched locally in George this week.

Wheels24 had the privilege of driving one of the vehicles prior to its local launch, an X250d.

The X-Class has been highly anticipated since news of its arrival was announced in 2016 at the Geneva auto show. The creation of the vehicle was met with interest by SA's local bakkie lovers and it was immediately thought to be a bakkie for the super-rich as its prices were expected to be exorbitant.

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

An entry-level X-Class costs the same price as a top-of-the-range Toyota Hilux bakkie.

It's still a premium vehicle and we'll have to wait and see if it will be a vehicle of status for city-slickers or if anyone will use it for bundu-bashing or a workhorse on a farm of sorts. I would use it for all of the above.

GALLERY: 2018 Mercedes Benz X-Class bakkie

The biggest highlight about driving the new Mercedes-Benz X-Class bakkie, was the look on everyone's face when they realised what they were seeing.

The first couple days, wait, make that every day, I drove the X-Class, I was greeted with excited hoots from fellow drivers on the road, loads of "thumbs ups" and ecstatic waving. I also had curious crowds gathering in my driveway. But my best was of those doing double takes and asking: "What is that!? A Mercedes bakkie?"

Its design is an acquired taste, and most people probably fell for the badge rather than its charming looks. Is it ugly? No, of course not, it's just that a Ford Ranger, Toyota Hilux and even an Isuzu KB are better looking - at least in my book.

The front end styling includes a huge Merc badge, and it surely states its presence on the road, but the X-Class was never built to win any beauty pageants. I'd like to believe that but then I'm still wondering: Who's going to buy this bakkie and what will they use it for?

For my little family, it served as a daily drive to work for a few days and it proved to do the task rather well. It has side steps and grab handles in the right places and it was comfortable for a long haul in traffic. Even easier enough for my little one to haul herself into her car seat in the back.

The 2.3-litre diesel unit mated to a six-speed manual gearbox has smooth shifting, but in all honesty, it drives more like a Navara than any of its Merc stable-mates.

And that's no surprise because the two vehicles share the same DNA - yet Mercedes claims the bakkies are apples and oranges despite all X-Class derivatives sharing Nissan/Renault engines and transmissions, and it's even built at a Nissan factory. 

It can work hard too, if given the task and even with a loaded bay, the torque makes driving effortless.

Then again, it is still a Mercedes after all despite where it's made or regardless of its Japanese partnerships. Give it some foot, and it's happy to give some grunt on the highway or off the beaten track. 

The automaker claims that the X-class has a "stiffened chassis, wider body, retuned suspension, better-equipped interior and better cabin insulation compared to the Nissan".

The fact that it shares all of that Nissan DNA really is not a bad thing. I have always loved the Navara bakkie and the fact that the X-Class is based on that should really give it some street cred.

However, I will say that I was disappointed in the vehicle's interior.

Yes it has a Merc facia and for a minute at first entry, you'd think you're sitting in an entry-level C-Class sedan, but then you notice the X-shaped air vents. But that's just it, I was expecting more flare and wanted to be blown away by the interior.

Instead it's a bit bland inside the cabin and I think the centre console could have been designed better to be more functional. 

Would I use it as a workhorse? Of course I would.

It has a large load bay that can hold anything be it furniture, water tanks or picking up the neighbourhood kids and taking them for a drive around the block. I actually wish I could drive it right now as I need a bakkie to purchase a large kennel for our new puppy. 

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