The lifestyle pickup segment is closing the gap on the SUV market and the X-Class is the vehicle setting the standard.
The entry-level X-Class Pure trim is a stripped-down, minimalist work model – it will therefore be an uncommon sight in the UK. More popular will be the Progressive trim, which adds colour-matched bumpers and alloy wheels, as well as chrome-look surrounds to parts of the dash. The top Power trim sets the X-Class out as a premium pickup, with leather steering wheel and seats, as well as smart leather-covered dash. LED high-performance headlights and rear lights also feature, along with keyless go, 18in alloys and eight-way electrically adjustable front seats.
The X-Class’s interior is smarter than the more utilitarian Amarok, but could nevertheless still do with higher-grade plastics on the lower parts of the dash to make the pickup a truly premium commercial vehicle.
Much is made of the 7in infotainment screen that is standard on all models. Its central position above the X-styled air vents – which are pleasingly springy to the touch – draws your attention to the neat media controls. Mercedes says its aim was to develop the parts of the Navara that you see, touch and feel to make them more befitting of the X-Class. The top half of the dash certainly achieves this but the plastic surrounds to the transmission housing and air conditioning control panel don’t convey the same quality.
One of the key changes Mercedes has made to enhance the quality feel of the X-Class is with greater sound-deadening to mask what is otherwise a fairly coarse commercial vehicle engine.
Of the power outputs currently available, the X250d is certainly the better matched of the two, with the X220d feeling slightly underpowered even in an unladen vehicle. For highway driving, where the X-Class will likely spend much of its time, 187bhp is sufficient and, with the seven-speed automatic gearbox, it feels every bit the capable, comfortable cruiser.
The hydraulic steering is unusually light for a commercial vehicle – another indication of the softer target market – and is initially quite unresponsive and slow. This, however, is not a negative characteristic and actually benefits the X-Class while off-road.
Multilink coil spring suspension front and rear give the X-Class a far more comfortable ride compared with its leaf-sprung rivals and, while driving at speed over rough gravel tracks you’d think the X-Class is a mid-range SUV rather than a ladder frame chassis working vehicle. It’s the wider front and rear track, now 1632mm and 1625mm respectively, that really contributes most to the dynamics of the truck generating even greater grip levels compared with the Navara.