Explorers live with the surprise
With the first pick-up with a star on the radiator grille, the Stuttgart company is finally entering a completely new segment. After giving the coupé four doors, mixing the coupe shape with the SUVs and all of them in all vehicle classes, it is now the turn of the pick-up segment. Welcome to the X-Class.
Mercedes-Benz is proud of the first pick-up with a star. Very proud. And because the German auto journalist can't really do that much with the segment itself, they went on a trip with us. To where the pick-ups are at home. World premiere in South Africa, the first test drives now in South America. That sounds like an adventure, not just for Mercedes, but also for us.
The first serve is yes, it is the first pick-up from Stuttgart, even if you like to get one at every suitable X-Class appointment Mercedes dash eight shows the seventies. Which in turn was only produced in small doses and only in Argentina. So it is "de facto" the first pick-up with a star and yet he looks so familiar. This is thanks to the designers at Mercedes-Benz, who also put a tin dress on a pick-up that leaves no room for doubt as to whether they belong to the family.
Did someone say Nissan here?
When the strategists at Mercedes-Benz realized that the world didn't just live from shooting brakes and SUVs, they also looked for a possible platform at the cooperation partner Nissan / Renault. If you want to seriously delight the pick-up segment with a fresh offer and be taken just as seriously, you need a ladder frame. A simple cut through the bodywork of a GLE or GLS was different. Should 1.1 tons of payload be made possible. And even before you join Nissan the Navara had finished, the Stuttgart team clicked into the project. You had to distance yourself from pure badge engineering, how else should you present the positioning and the Swabian self-image to the customer in euros? Was the CITAN still a quick shot, so the X-Class should be more Daimler than Nissan. Difficult, considering what you can take over from the cooperation partner for the start of the X-Class.
Mercedes-Benz has, and you can acknowledge that, gave the X-Class a clear Mercedes family face and also adopted little of the side panels. Of course, a Navara remains visible, especially in the sideline - which is mainly due to the fact that it was on the market much earlier. So number two is always inferior to the impression of being a copy. While there are now two diesel variants at the start, a manual (6-speed) and an automatic transmission (7-speed), all of which come from the cooperation partner - this will be the end of 2018 Top model ones have a V6 diesel from Stuttgart Carry it under the hood and complete the drive train with a 7-speed automatic machine from Daimler. The steering and axle drive remain parts of the cooperation partner, as do the rear axle and the optionally available, lockable differential. Only the distributor differential with a 40 to 60 distribution will be available in-house for the 350d.
While the car journalist, influenced by the daily handling of different automobile brands, immediately identifies switches, push buttons and other assemblies as "non-Daimler" when entering the X-Class, the question arises again; "What role does this play for the car buyer?" Is a Renault diesel from a Nissan pick-up truck, combined with the Japanese Aisin automatic, so bad that you have to criticize it? Is it a clear no-go? Or is that just a detail that attracts only the ever complaining and self-proclaimed automotive experts? Two hearts pound in the author's chest for this answer, And there is probably more than one answer to this question.
Time for a little clarity - that should all clear up if you jetted halfway around the world, right?
The Mercedes among pick-up trucks?
It is a full-bodied promise and has rushed all impressions ahead of the following note: The Nissan Navara has the author last moved more than 12 months ago and that was already a really positive surprise. Rich, solid, with enough pressure for the highway. (Always with reference to the 190 PS Diesel.) What makes the Mercedes among the pick-ups?
First of all, the powerful presence on the street. Although Mercedes-Benz deliberately chose the light truck segment and did not plan to enter the US market for the time being, the X-Class is still on the road with an impressive shape. However, the Ford F-150s passing by in the city traffic of Santiago de Chile just happen to be one size bigger. In order to get the Mercedes look, i.e. to design the perception in such a way that you don't get lost in all sorts of 1-ton trucks, the Mercedes-Benz design team was allowed to break the Nissan limits. A lane up to 6 centimeters wider is not only useful on the road and in terms of driving behavior, it also simply allows for a plus in perception in terms of appearance. And even if you simply can't see it, many assemblies in the area of the axes have been redesigned. The kinematics of the wider rear axle looks like that of Nissan and is still different. Once recalculated, widened, retuned and thus designed for more dynamics. (Track width is like cubic capacity, at some point it doesn't make sense anymore, but it helps;))
With the (I save myself the new reference to the origin at this point) 2.3 liter diesel engine keeps the driving dynamics still within limits. More than enough. Punchy. Convincing. Everyday accessible. But the first “ride” in the 258 PS strong V6 diesel then demonstrates more understandably what was important to the Mercedes men. The two 2.3 liter diesel engines are from the cooperation partner (Crap, now I've written it again) and deliver 220 HP as X163d or 250 HP as X190d with bi-turbo charging. No, both engines are not bad - but just not Mercedes engines! That has to be stated. Over and over again.
Power, the Mercedes language
It should be the power equipment. Because not only in the upcoming top diesel is Mercedes most likely in clear letters on the X-Class, also in the equipment lines, the hungry star customer makes the most sensible choice of the highest equipment line. While the Pure and Progressive variants also offered make the inclined automobile automobile journalist a bit perplexed due to their simple material appearance, the Power version with leather-covered dashboard may bring the chestnuts of high expectation out of the fire of the critical journalist's point of view. The PURE variant plays the role of the workhorse. Then, however, the price difference to the market partner and cooperation partner - as a work tool - is no longer insignificant in the buying process. But if you already choose CITAN and Sprinter from the local Mercedes dealer, you can now order a pick-up and understand it as a classic worker and argue with the tax office.
It is a very strenuous balancing act that you want to do with the X-Class. Because of course marketing immediately throws the term “lifestyle pick-up” into the big race for buyers' favor. So - pure for serious work, progressive if you can't make up your mind and power for those who are looking for the Mercedes-Benz among the midsize pick-ups and who are ultimately looking for more private fun with the pick-ups.
LED headlights, reversing camera or even a 360 ° camera - everything is possible and therefore at the level of modern cars.
It is important to clearly classify driving behavior: Mercedes has put a more than convincing set-up on the road. Everything that has been changed, including the sound insulation between the passenger compartment and engine compartment, targeted reinforcements in the sheet metal structure, a newly insulated cardan tunnel, special sealing elements and also the choice of the right tire lead to convincing driving comfort at an impressively low noise level , With the hydraulic steering of the cooperation partner there are hardly any parameters for optimization, but if a wider track, new kinematics and adapted spring-damper elements should make a change, it is primarily the noticeable driving comfort. The passenger even feels it clearly again. When the eyes are closed, the X-Class is almost equal to the large SUVs from our own home in all comfort matters. Especially when it comes to rolling comfort. The fact that the X-Class also makes no mistakes when it comes to noise insulation and processing results in an extremely comfortable travel companion. And without having to put 1.1 tons of payload on the platform. Other pick-ups are actually much more shirtless to drive. However, the pick-ups designed for the German market are also equipped with a different spring-damper adjustment and have 20.2 centimeters of ground clearance, whereas in markets where the X-Class will tend much more towards workhorses (not Europe), 2 centimeters more Ground clearance and a modified set-up are installed.
Mercedes-Benz will then demonstrate with the available features that a pick-up is also available in modern style. The entire cockpit layout is based heavily on the V-Class and had already been clearly based on the sedans. The Stuttgart-based company has thus successfully built the bridge to the car. At least in the interior, nothing feels more like "workhorse". From the 8 inch multimedia display to the touch controller and typical car instruments, the X-Class makes you “old acquaintances”. That the shape of the headrests is based on the cooperation partner and that the seat heating is located in a location that is unusual for Stuttgart standards? Again such a thing that especially attracts the inclined automobile journalists. The X-Class is also the first "light truck" to fully exploit the digital map. With an optionally available SIM card, the X-Class is always in contact with its driver via the Internet. Thanks to the Mercedes.me App, you can also keep in touch with the pick-up from the couch and read off the next service interval.
The author has seen very little. For some reason the inclined journalists wanted to be brought into the core markets of the X-Class, but either we or the fresh X-Class did not want to take a tour of the rough life in the Andes. So the driving impressions remain of short gravel routes, a little off-road course and many country road kilometers. Chile, the land of condors, wine and gauchos. You read that in the travel guide. But it was also about the X-Class and in the end only about the question: is it a Mercedes? It is probably the pick-up that comes closest to the idea of a Mercedes, the brand idea, the core of the Stuttgart. And it will sell. Simply because there is a market for it. Maybe not between Stuttgart-Hauptbahnhof and Breuniger-Land, but in all the markets that we, as simply and simply focused car journalists from Germany, are happy to displace.
But how does he drive now?
It may sound frustrating, but the 190 hp diesel from Renault, the Nissan seven-speed automatic and the Mercedes-Benz revised suspension setup of the X-Class work mercilessly together. It feels so right. The Aisin automatic usually holds the gears calmly, otherwise shifts smoothly and at the right time and benefits from the rich torque of the 190 hp turbo diesel. This is matched by the damper tuning of the X-Class. No, the X doesn't rock, and yet nothing rumbles either. There is a functioning interaction between the tire walls and the rigid axle with the multi-link suspension. For the gauchos on the road in Chile, architects on the way to the next construction site in the center of Sydney, wine growers in South Africa and simply for everyone who needs a towing vehicle (up to 3.5t) for their heavy leisure toys - everywhere the X -Class the promise of a new vehicle segment.
And that's exactly where the X-Class will score. It will work.
Simply because the star in the double-louvred radiator grille brings just that kind of prestige that has not been found in this segment so far. Between South America, South Africa and Australia, the quick entry into the market, which this form of cooperation enables, will score more points than the oil buffalo defines as minus points when crawling between the supplier assemblies. The fact that one relies on the partner Renault-Nissan on the technology side for the start of the pick-up not only saves a lot of pesetos, but, according to internal statements by the Mercedes experts, easy development times of a good 2 years. And you want to take with you exactly the momentum that market experts have identified for this vehicle group. Freely translated: If you don't already invent the segment, then at least don't waste any time until you are on the market. The capacities of the cooperation partner's plants are used to produce the new X-Class. The X-Class is manufactured in the Nissan plant in Barcelona and from 2019 also in Argentina.
The X-Class starts in Germany from 37.294 Euro (VAT included.). The market launch begins in November 2017 in Europe. Is next to the Mercedes-V6 still an original Mercedes four-cylinder engine? You should never say never and you will also prepare an AMG line. And at the latest then one will ask oneself: Why did it take so long, until the first Pick-Up with star came on the market?