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Car doctor: What’s the deal with the Mercedes X-Class bakkie?

2017-12-03 00:00

Justus Visagie

Image: Wheels24 / Sean Parker

Johannesburg - This week the City Press car gurus answer questions about the Mercedes-Benz  X-Class bakkie, rebuilding versus replacing an engine and finding a car at the right price.

Max writes:
I’m fascinated by this new Mercedes X-Class bakkie, but I hear it’s only coming next year. I’m about to order a V6 diesel Volkswagen Amarok. Will the V6 diesel X-Class be more powerful?

The four-cylinder X-Class 250d should reach Mzansi in the first quarter of 2018 and it will run the same 2.3-litre turbodiesel engine as the Nissan Navara. The X350d – with the 3-litre V6 Merc turbodiesel engine – will only arrive towards the end of next year.

If you can wait, test-drive the X250d before making a decision. It might have less power than the V6 Amarok, but be a more comfortable ride. The power and torque output of the X-Class V6 and the Amarok V6 will be very similar, at 190kW and 550Nm for the Benz, and 165kW and 550Nm for the VW. The Amarok has an overboost function that can increase its output to 180kW and 580Nm, for overtaking.

Amsh writes:
I would like to buy a new car that is durable and light on fuel, for under R350 000. I am not fussy about brands. Please advise which cars I should consider.

Given your set of requirements, it would be prudent to avoid anything with complex turbochargers or direct injection systems – these represent amazing technology, but could pose maintenance headaches as the car ages. With that in mind, you might want to consider a Suzuki Vitara: it’s built to last a long time, has a simple mechanical design that is unlikely to give trouble and it returns spectacular fuel economy (real-world average consumption of 6.5 litres per 100km isn’t uncommon in normal use). As a bonus, at your price point you can get a comprehensively equipped top-specification variant, and it offers a good warranty and service plan. 
Also consider the Hyundai Accent 1.6 Hatchback, which offers an enjoyable driving experience, lots of cabin and boot space, comprehensive equipment and an industry-leading warranty.

RR writes:
I own a 2015 Ford Focus Trend 1.0 and want to trade it for a Focus ST3 2016 which has 26 000km on the clock. Please advise if it’s feasible.

It would be feasible if you can afford to finance an additional R100 000 – R150 000 on top of your trade-in. You’re unlikely to receive more than R180 000 on trade-in for a 2015 1.0T Trend, and a 2016 ST3 with that mileage will retail between R300 000 and R350 000.

Lynx writes:
I have a BMW 320D with broken piston rings. Should I overhaul the engine or replace it?

It might be better to replace the whole engine, as your problems most likely go deeper than just the replacement of the broken piston rings: diesel engines will only break pistons or rings when there is something seriously wrong with the diesel injection system. This could mean that you would need to replace the injectors and the broken piston rings, with the latter procedure likely to entail high labour, parts and engineering costs, while replacement injectors and a service of the injection system could easily add R20 000 to the (already steep) cost of rebuilding the engine.

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