The Mercedes-Benz X-Class pickup truck came and went with a whimper, but if any manufacturer was to produce a true luxury pick-up truck for sale, the sensible money would be on Mercedes-Benz to be the ones to really nail the formula.
Their pedigree in luxury cars, combined with their expertise in commercial vehicles sets them out as the pretenders to the luxury off-road throne. The problem for the Mercedes X-Class, however, was that the market in 2018 was saturated with rivals. If the X-Class was to be a success then it would have to take on heavy hitters like the Ford Ranger and its now obvious competitor the Volkswagen Amarok V6.
At that moment in time, the Volkswagen Amarok (2010 – 2019) was notable for its smooth V6 engine, unfaultable build quality and refinement. It was also exceptionally impressive on both a road and the rough stuff. Throw in top spec models from the Nissan Navara, Toyota Hilux and Mitsubishi L200 and it makes for a very saturated marketplace. Where then does a Mercedes X-Class pick-up fit in?
Yes, the Mercedes-Benz X-Class was built on the shared platform with Renault-Nissan that is used for the Nissan Navara and the Renault Alaskan.
As it's based on a Navara Mercedes,-Benz X-Class has a fundamentally strong base upon which to build. The generation of Navara that it is built on was a very solid vehicle, far better than the previous version and had many good qualities including coil springs at the rear.
The downside is that the Mercedes X-Class is available in two versions and there's a big difference between them. The Mercedes-Benz X-Class X220d and the Mercedes-Benz X-Class X250d are essentially copies of the Nissan Navara. The problem is that they carry a Mercedes price tag. The more bespoke and Mercedes-like version of the X-Class is the X350d.
There are three versions of the Mercedes X-Class that you need to know about. The range starts with a four-cylinder 2.3-litre turbodiesel engine that is also shared with the Navara and Alaskan. There's a single turbo 161bhp X220d and twin turbo 187bhp X250d. They're both pretty good engines, but the X-Class' main event was introduced slightly later in the lifecycle and was a Mercedes’ own 3-litre V6 unit producing 258hp and 550Nm of torque. It is Mercedes’ own interpretation of a luxury pick-up truck with power and presence, and no doubt the result of much perspiration.
Unfortunately because of availability you might not get much of a choice now that the X-Class is no longer on sale, but there was a good amount of all of them sold at the time - although not in huge numbers which is partly the reason for its failure - more on that later.
But if you really want to have the full Mercedes-Benz X-Class experience we'd recommend you go for the X350d if you can. This Mercedes-Benz X-Class review will mostly focus on the V6 X350d, but there's plenty of information on all three models.
Unlike the smaller engine models which are available with increasingly opulent Pure, Progressive and Power trim levels, in the UK the V6 will only get the top of range trim. Power spec means everything you’d expect of a top of the range truck with leather steering wheel and seats, and smart leather covered dash with contrast stitching.
There’s LED high-performance headlights along with keyless go, 18-inch alloys and eight-way electrically adjustable front seats. All these are on top of the colour matched bumpers and chrome-look surrounds you get on a Progressive X-Class.
The X-Class has a smart and exceptionally upmarket interior, which at first glance looks to beat its direct rival the Amarok, hands down. However, the plastics aren’t quite what you’d expect from a luxury Merc (even a commercial one) and if you plan to store anything in the cabin you’ll be severely disappointed. Storage is sadly at a real premium in the X-Class. Is an Amarok interior better than an X-Class? It’s certainly more functional, but with acres of leather and Mercedes switchgear the X-Class is far more luxurious. Consider that a win for Mercedes then.
Aside from its premium reputation, where Mercedes hopes to stand out is with that powerful V6 engine. It was set to be the most powerful pick-up truck in the market, but Volkswagen has uprated its Amarok V6 to meet the same 258hp output while delivering up to 580Nm of torque, 30Nm more than the X-Class. It is of course not just about how much power there is, but how that power is delivered, and the X-Class was always going to be about the pairing of the 7G-Tronic Plus automatic transmission with the V6 engine.
If the perfectly good X220d was the nibble at a posh dinner party and the X250d the entrée then the X350d is one hell of a show stopping main course. Acceleration is brutally quick for a pick-up truck and it’s relentless too. The 7G transmission is standard on UK models as is the permanent four-wheel-drive system that splits power intelligently between the front and rear axles. On a highway or free flowing country road the X-Class V6 shows all the poise and refinement of a well-priced SUV. The handling feels sharper and more in tune with the higher-powered engine than it does in the existing trucks. The coil suspension, fitted front and rear, has been altered too in order to account for the larger engine and make the ride and handling of the new X-Class even more Mercedes-like. It’s a convincing set of alterations and the X-Class is greatly improved as a result.
We’d previously found that the light steering of the X-Class was of particular benefit while off-road, and although the changes made do not radically alter its off-road abilities, the truck does provide plenty of feedback over rough surfaces. Bumpy forest tracks were devoured calmly and the X-Class never felt like it was battling with the surface. Grip levels are fantastic for such a powerful pick-up. In comparison to cheaper rivals, more suited to the commercial customer rather than Mercedes’ luxury target audience, the X-Class transitions elegantly between bends with a minimal of body roll. Attempt such corners at speed in a Mitsubishi L200 and you’ll soon see that the X-Class’ handling, grip and driver-aids flatter the driver in addition to being far more comfortable.
As commercial vehicles, it would be churlish to ignore the fact that both pick-ups are designed to carry a load. Given that both need to meet UK tax regulations to ensure savvy buyers can claim back the VAT and ensure flat-rated road tax and the standard rate benefit in kind for commercial vehicle on company car tax, they can both carry a payload of just over one tonne. The Amarok load space is marginally larger, but both essentially do the same job.
As promised at the launch of the X-Class, it is the V6 version that really brings the model alive. The only remaining question is if the X-Class is now the best luxury pick-up.
All indications point towards it being so, but with a lack of functional storage in the cabin and interior plastics that appear to be a job half done we can’t hand the victory directly to Mercedes. There’s also the small matter of the price. The X250d costs over 10% more than an equivalent Amarok while the V6 with all the VAT added would have set you back close to £50k at the time.
If you’re sole purpose of buying an X-Class is to look and feel like the king of the car park then that might not be a problem. If you need a more practical working vehicle that doubles up as attractive weekend wheels then we’d recommend looking elsewhere.
Ultimately, price is only relevant to those that can or can’t afford it. The X-Class is a luxury pick-up in every respect, especially if you get the V6.
At launch, the X-Class started off at £27,310 for the X220d Pure while the X250d Power was £40,920. The top of the range X350d cost a massive £47,412 for the Power model.
The X 350 d 4MATIC at a glance
|Mercedes-Benz X 350 d 4MATIC|
|Engine||3.0 litre V6 turbocharged engine|
|Power||258hp at 3400rpm|
|Torque||550Nm at 1400–3200rpm|
|Powertrain||4MATIC permanent all-wheel drive with rear-biased 40:60 torque distribution|
|Transmission||7G-TRONIC PLUS with steering wheel shift paddles and ECO start/stop function|
|Fuel consumption (combined)||31.3mpg to 32.1mpg|
|Combined CO2 emissions||236-230g/km|
|Acceleration 0–62mpg||7.9 seconds|
|Fording depth||up to 600 mm|
|Ground clearance||Front axle 202 mm|
Rear axle 222 mm
|Angle of approach/departure||up to 29°/24° up to 30°/25°|
|Maximum tilt||up to 49.8°|
|Ramp breakover angle||up to 22°|
|Maximum gradeability||up to 100%|