The mere thought of Mercedes-Benz making a dual-cab 10 years ago may have seemed like lunacy. But this week we found ourselves sitting in the mid-spec X 250d Progressive. I first laid eyes on this controversial ute at The Frankfurt Motor Show last year. My first impressions were like many, had the German luxury car maker actually done enough to glam up was is essentially a Nissan Navara? After a few days I was left both surprised but still a little skeptical.
While there are plenty of obvious Navara styling cues this particular red example really is a looker. The front grille and classic in your face Mercedes-Benz logo turn heads more than any other dual-cab. Even the rear tailgate with more sophisticated, integrated taillamps exudes a tad more class than its donor vehicle.
The interior is worlds apart from all dual-cabs, the floating infotainment screen, quad air vents that adjust with beautiful fluidity plus overall dashboard design scream Benz. Sure, there are still ample hard plastics including doubtful looking chrome brightwork but for what is essentially a workhorse it all just feels a tad spesh.
But it’s when you get moving that the work put into making it better than the Navara is very noticeable. First up, this would have to be the quietest diesel ute I’ve driven. Not that the Nissan-Renault sourced 2.3-litre four-cylinder twin-turbo diesel is any different. But clearly great effort has been put into insulating the cabin from such atrocities. It steers with a higher degree of ease; the quality steering wheel feels substantial in your hands. It’s a ute that pleases just about all the senses, a phrase I’d never thought I’d utter. The ride is simply better, being more refined and composed across most of the urban surfaces I tackled.
All of this is for good reason…
Things You Might Not Know.
If you see a X-Class parked alongside a Navara it may pay to really have a good look. Technically every panel is different, barring the door handles. That may be hard to believe but look very closely, perhaps with a magnifying glass plus a measuring tape and you’ll discover some subtle changes.
One of the more interesting stats that set it aside from the Nissan is body width, being 50mm wider and with a more imposing 70mm wider wheel track. What can’t be seen is some structural strengthening for a much anticipated V6 model on the way and suspension upgrades.
In short, it’s the Navara, Nissan would have loved to had made, if budget allowed for it.
Things You May Not Like.
The X-Class is heavier, by some 150kg and it feels it. 140kW / 450Nm doesn’t doesn’t cut it in this particular guise. The seven-speed automatic is a fine unit and the overall drivetrain does an admirable job. But if it’s a dash from the lights or highway overtaking, expect a reasonably dull affair.
The Mercedes-Benz COMAND system is operated via a combination of a palm sized touchpad and rotary dial. While it looks sophisticated and luxo, it’s actually a bit of a pain in the arse to use on the run.
At this price point some key tech is missing, adaptive cruise control is just one example. I guess there are some things the Navara platform just couldn’t accommodate.
Things You Will Love
Standard AEB is a very good thing in this segment, safety wise this is a five-star rated ANCAP vehicle. It still has a 3.5-tonne towing capacity and the second largest tray behind the Volkswagen Amarok. You will appreciate the higher levels of refinement and overall satisfaction of driving a premium brand, if that’s what you’re into.
$57,800 before on roads and a lengthy list of options is about on par with elite dual-cabs these days. But when we land in the top of the range Power model shortly I’ll take you through just how out of control the pricing really can get. The car in the pictures is actually full of over $10,000 odd worth of add ons.
Fuel economy is rated at 7.9L/100km and I hit 8.1, pretty standard for this class.
I’ll be honest, it feels good in general getting around with any vehicle with the three-pointed star plastered on it. So, is that the reason I’m leaning towards accepting the X-Class as a very good effort despite the online detractors? Possibly. But I am certain you can forget about the stupid “oh it’s just a rebadged Navara” line. Because it’s not, instead we have an excellent first effort from Mercedes-Benz when it comes to entering one of the most competive segments around. If the Nissan Navara was a 7 I’d have to give the X-Class an 8 on the EFTM Scoreboard, but bring on the V6!