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We drive the new Mercedes-Benz X-Class bakkie in SA

2018-05-09 19:14

Image: Supplied

Sean Parker

We experience the new Mercedes-Benz bakkie in some challenging terrain. Sean Parker reports from George at the X-Class launch. 

It’s a bakkie. Just a bakkie after all. Nope, Mercedes-Benz would like to think their new X-Class is more than just a bakkie. It needed to feel luxurious, ride comfortably BUT also be capable off-road. 

We drove it in the Western Cape on predominantly off-road terrain where it performed very well. All the models were fitted with 4x4 which was selectable via a rotary dial on the lower fascia. Low range is there too and a rear diff-lock. 

Impressive off-road ability

We tested the 221mm ground clearance (SA receives a raised suspension as standard) and the 30-degree approach angle and a 25.9 degree departure angle on an obstacle. The standard tow bar fitted to the bakkie scraped the ground every now and then. Other than that, no issues. 

We also got to test the descent control system on a steep slope. We drove a 6-speed manual version and all it required was to flick the car into ‘4x4 low’ and press the DSR button. Now the unfamiliar feeling of taking your foot off the clutch and brake is needed as the bakkie inches its way down. Bravo. But it’s nothing new in this segment. 

The off-road route took us over some picturesque mountains. The terrain was rocky and a good challenge for the new Mercedes. But it really didn’t miss a beat. On some occasions we needed to engage low range to tackle the multitude of boulders, impressive. 

The Mercedes, as we know uses the same underpinnings as the Nissan Navara, which means it uses coil springs (for better ride comfort). However, Mercedes says the X-Class has thicker anti-roll bars (which is supposed to decrease body roll) and revalved dampers. 

Sluggish auto 'box

The final part of the drive was around George and then onto the Outeniqua Pass. The steering’s lightness took a bit of getting used to but after that I was knitting through the corners with a lot less body roll than I expected from the bakkie. 

The X250d utilises a 2.3-litre twin-turbo diesel engine with a claimed 140kW and 450Nm. The power felt adequate for the task. And I had no problem overtaking vehicles, although the 7-speed automatic was a tad sluggish on kickdown. The auto’s cogs can be manually changed by pushing the selector to the left. 

When it comes to payload, the X-Class offers up to 1.1 tonnes and can haul up to 3.5 tonnes. We didn’t get to test that claim. 

The one aspect where Mercedes might have missed the mark is the interior, where it’s more utilitarian than luxury. There’s no touchscreen capability nor Apple CarPlay or Android Auto.
 
Some of the switchgear is directly from the Navara. So yeah, that’s one area the Mercedes buyer might feel hard done by. 

So, after a full day of driving the new X-Class I was left impressed. It handled the off-road sections well, possessing the ingredients to fulfill the role it was created for - a leisure vehicle with a payload. 

Prices

X220d 4X2 Progressive (Manual Transmission) - R642 103
X250d 4X2 Progressive  (Automatic Transmission)  - R694 025
X250d 4X4 Progressive (Manual Transmission)- R696 785
X250d 4X4 Progressive (Automatic Transmission) - R723 810
X250d 4X4 Power (Manual Transmission) - R791 315
X250d 4X4 Power (Automatic Transmission) - R818 340

Trim levels

Progressive is aimed at people seeking a rugged bakkie with extra styling and comfort functions, while also being a comfortable yet prestigious vehicle for private or dual use.

Power is the high-end line. Mercedes says it is aimed at customers for whom styling, performance and comfort are paramount. As a lifestyle vehicle beyond the mainstream, it is suitable for urban environments as well as for sports and leisure activities off the beaten track. Its design and high level of equipment reflect an independent and individualistic lifestyle.

Watch: 5 things to know about Merc's new bakkie

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