Simon Harris finds the new pick-up X-Class has Navara influences but it’s very much a Mercedes-Benz in terms of equipment and interiors.
Mercedes-Benz’s light commercial vehicle line-up has been good at serving businesses which need panel vans.
But, to fill gaps in its range, it has sought partnerships with other manufacturers. So, a few years ago, it added a rival for the Peugeot Partner and Ford Transit Connect with the Renault Kangoo-based Citan.
Now, in 2018, it will add a new pick-up truck, leaning heavily on the expertise of Nissan and the extremely capable Navara.
But it would be incorrect to claim the new X-Class is merely a Navara wearing a different badge.
Perhaps spurred on by some of the feedback on the Citan, and well aware that pick-up trucks have strong appeal for retail customers (and owner-driver businesses), it takes more than a cursory glance to identify the base vehicle when looking at the new model.
The front end could be from any of Mercedes-Benz’s SUVs and, inside, much has been done to include familiar Mercedes-Benz features where possible.
The X-Class uses the same four-cylinder diesel engines and chassis as the Navara in the 163PS X 220d and 190PS X 250d, while a more retail-focused six-cylinder 258PS X 350d will arrive later in the year using a Mercedes-Benz engine.
Regardless of which version you choose, the X-Class is well equipped, coming with standard autonomous emergency braking, seven airbags (including driver’s knee airbag), lane-keeping assistance, traffic sign recognition, rear-view camera, idling stop-start and alarm.
All variants are double-cab, with a choice of three equipment grades.
The entry-level Pure is only offered on the X 220d and is the version in the range that is closest to a workhorse, coming with steel wheels, unpainted bumpers and manually adjustable front seats.
It’s offered with a ‘plus pack’ option with parking sensors and load securing rails for £700 (excluding VAT).
The mid-grade Progressive trim, available on both X 220d and X 250d, has body-coloured bumpers, matt silver grille finish, aluminium door sills, chrome door handles, load-securing rails, aluminium interior trim inserts and 17-inch alloy wheels.
Style pack includes LED front and rear lights, running boards, roof rails and 18-inch alloys.
Comfort pack includes electrically adjustable front seats, electronic climate control, Artico synthetic leather and cloth seats, and a storage net for the passenger foot well.
The high-end Power trim comes with rear bumper in chrome with integrated step, foglights with chrome surround and shoulder line trim strips in chrome, LED headlights with washers and LED rear lights, electrically folding exterior mirrors, keyless go, eight-way electrically adjustable driver and front passenger seats, Artico synthetic leather and cloth upholstery, Artico dashboard cover with top-stitching, black high-gloss interior trim, and 18-inch alloy wheels.
Style pack for Power variants includes electric rear windows, privacy glass, running boards, roof rails and 19-inch alloy wheels.
A parking pack is available for Progressive and Power variants, and comes with 360-degree cameras with an overhead view displayed on the dashboard screen for parking, while a winter pack, available on all grades, has heated front seats and heated headlamp washer jets.
All four-cylinder versions are part-time four-wheel drive, with high-range and low-range 4WD locking the centre differential, so only suitable for loose surfaces.
This is an area where the Mitsubishi L200 still has an advantage, allowing four-wheel drive running on some versions on hard surfaces without causing damage to the hardware.
‘Permanent’ 4WD running on the X-Class will only be offered with the V6 engine.
A locking rear differential is available on the X-Class as an option and is activated when selecting low-range 4WD.
It has 221mm of ground clearance, dependent on specification, maximum wading depth of 600mm, will carry up to 1,087kg and tow up to 3,500kg.
The navigation system is from Mercedes-Benz and uses its familiar dashboard-mounted ‘floating’ screen, accessed via a rotary controller on the centre console.
Vents, window and mirror switches and most other things the driver and passengers will come into contact with look like they have the stamp of the illustrious three-pointed star.
And Nissan’s 2.3-litre diesel engine, designed and engineered for LCVs such as the Navara, is no harsher or less refined than Mercedes-Benz’s long-serving 2.1-litre diesel engine found in its vans and many of its cars.
The X-Class also illustrates how much on-road driving characteristics of pick-up trucks have advanced during the past 10 years, feeling more akin to a modern SUV than a working vehicle with a separate chassis and solid rear axle.
It’s a vehicle you could quite happily cover high-mileage in and, large turning circle aside, doesn’t feel too heavy or difficult to manoeuvre.
You have to look closely to see the Nissan origins of the X-Class, as Mercedes-Benz has done a great deal to make it feel like one of its own vehicles and it ticks all the ‘workhorse’ boxes.
Perhaps the one criticism is it feels a little too ‘premium’ to be a commercial vehicle.
Model tested: 250d 4Matic Power auto