Tough Job: World Premiere Mercedes-Benz X-Class

World premiere for the “Premium” pick-up truck, made by Mercedes-Benz - or so.

Do you remember earlier? So back then. When the Japanese were known to be the copycats of the automotive industry. Before it became Chinese. Apparently the Japanese only copied what was good and right. Until they found their own way. And today?

Today, a global corporation like Daimler realizes that you also need cars for South Africa, South America or Australia that you haven't had in your portfolio up to now. Pick-up trucks, for example. But not the full-size variant that the Americans love, but something like the smaller, robust trucks from Japan. Because the market for pick-up trucks with a good one ton payload is firmly in the hands of the Japanese.

And if Mercedes-Benz has its way, it will soon be with the Stuttgart-based company as well. And for that you got help. Massive help. World premiere for the Mercedes-Benz X-Class, a Nissan Navara in a “premium dress”. I leave it up to you, dear reader, whether that is good or bad.

Top facts about the new X-Class from Mercedes-Benz

The design

With the large central star, the classic two-slatted radiator grille and the bumpers in AMG look, the new X-Class is clearly recognizable as a Mercedes-Benz.

And still: If you know the Nissan Navara, you will also see the Nissan Navara. Especially as soon as the viewing angle is no longer directly on the front. Is it bad? First of all not. Is it good for Mercedes-Benz? Probably not. But that may be the stray opinion of a petrolhead, who is already struggling with the circumstances of the Mercedes-Benz Citan and the smart cooperation project. Neither the Citan nor the smart are bad cars and the Navara is probably the best pick-up in its segment - but is that really enough to become a Mercedes? The front mask shows just how good a pick-up from Stuttgart can look. A little more courage - or budget - would have been nice! At least that  Original Nissan door handles are a massive mess at the Stuttgart pick-up.

The motors

Mercedes speaks of the most powerful pick-up in its segment. But that does not apply to the European start in autumn 2017, but sometime in 2018 - when the “old” V6 diesel will find its way into the bow of the X-Class. Until then, the well-known 2.3 liter diesel engines with single or multi-stage turbocharging and 160 or 190 hp are available. These also come from the cooperation partner. Just like the gasoline engine with 165 hp available in individual markets.

Is it bad? No. Above all in the Navara 190 PS turbodiesel in our test (2016) a very lively figure and looked motorized. Is it good for Mercedes-Benz? Definitely not. A Mercedes with the engine of a cooperation partner? An absolute no-go! Still.

What strikes the auto blogger

A steering wheel that can only be adjusted one-dimensionally. As with the parts dispenser, it is not adjustable in “length”, but only in height. Is that decisive for the war? Probably not.

But not there, but also here with the shift gate, the ancestry of the X-Class becomes clear. Not even the facial expressions have been changed, or, as would have been desirable, the “typical Mercedes gear selector lever” moved to the steering column. It is probably something as mundane as the gear selector lever that frustrates the author the most at the premiere of the new X-Class. Seriously.

Is it bad? No. The gear selector is functional and the Nissan Infiniti seven-speed transmission is more than useful. Is it good for Mercedes-Benz? Definitely not. After all, Mercedes-Benz is one of the last automobile manufacturers who also manufacture their own transmissions. And here is a separate path and not least a statement! 

That one has made an effort with the assistance systems, one notices on the lane departure warning system and other assistance systems, that one does not receive the cruise control as “adaptive”, speaks a clear language again.

loading capacity

It has to be practical. Neatly put something. And with a loading area that is almost  160 x 160 cm, and the payload of up to one ton, he seems to be able to really live up to this promise. When it comes to trailer loads, the X-Class is not exposed and promises the usual (up to) 3.5 tons. This turns the lifestyle vice into a workhorse.

Added to this is the range of accessories designed by Mercedes-Benz with dozens of load securing solutions. And of course the typical package of pick-up accessories. From hardtop to cargo space roller grilles and, and, and. The martial-looking roll bar with the thick struts is however only referred to by Mercedes-Benz as an optical accessory. If you look at the assembly of the bracket, held by 4 12er nuts on the tailgate side wall, you understand the reference to the lifestyle accessory.

Off-road talents

There will be three versions of the Mercedes Pick Up. Pure, progressive and Power. The two Commenrail diesel engines (X220d and X250d) are available with both rear-wheel drive and all-wheel drive. However, the automatic models always come with the switchable all-wheel drive. As with the engines, and also with the transmissions, the competence of the Japanese will be used for the time being. Switchable all-wheel drive including reduction and lockable rear axle - known from the organ donor from Nissan. And the off-road talents on paper also read like good old acquaintances. Like the Navara, the ground clearance varies according to the model version and is 202 to 222 millimeters. The depth of the mudflats also remains at 60 centimeters. There are changes in the details of the embankment angle and ramp angle - in the end, however, the good basis above all ensures a more than sufficient off-road talent.

The all-wheel drive known as 4matic has nothing to do with the Stuttgart system. From the plastic rotary switch in the center console to the lockable rear axle differential, you can rely on the technology of the Japanese. Is it bad? No. Is it good for Mercedes-Benz? Probably not. Because protected designations like "4matic" lose their importance. This is how previous technology features degenerate into the word mark.

connectivity and the well-known Comand system in tablet design have moved into the stylishly transformed cockpit. Mercedes wants to justify the first premium pick-up. And even if the cockpit looks familiar, above all thanks to the Mercedes displays and the familiar but already overhauled Mercedes multifunction steering wheel - the spark at the author does not really want to jump over. Anyone who primarily sells connectivity focal points as premium features, but then does not produce them in series but only as an option, gambles away the claim to a different, even higher-quality perception of the entire product. Call up the tank level by mobile phone, yes, it works - if you look at it Treat yourself. But at what point do the ideas of the “workhorse” and the lifestyle vehicle contradict each other? Mercedes-Benz wants to combine both. But as always, only one thing works. Either lifestyle or rustic.

Is it bad? No. A pick-up is one of the rare forms of car that can really fulfill a function designed for use, but does that have to be premium? Is it good for Mercedes-Benz? Probably yes. The concept of a solid base and lush SA lists is accepted by Mercedes customers. And the author was also wrong with the Citan.

So he drives

With eyes closed, the X-Class can finally score on a first exit. It feels solid and blessed with healthy weight. Nevertheless, surprisingly nimble he circles quickly tacked corners and freely turns any fear of contact into the pampa. The gene donor can also go off-road, but the first contact with the new pick-up gives - presumably - a higher level of calm. Automotive experts like to speak of "NVH behavior" here. So the subjective perception in the area of ​​noise and vibrations. This is where the Mercedes X-Class scores seriously for the first time and also plays the charmer off-road. 

The chassis gently mediates between the rough off-road route and the sensitive car tester rear. And even if the chairs, primarily the headrest, are extremely reminiscent of the parts dispenser, the seat cover and the backrest are said to have been specially optimized for Mercedes customers. Sounds credible and yes - it fits well!

When it comes to the drive, everything seems very appropriate. The 190 PS Diesel and the 7 automatic gearbox are a well-coordinated team, the set-up appears calm and confident. Although not developed in Stuttgart.

Is the X-Class better than the Nissan Navara? Is it really the first premium SUV?

The first contact leaves massive question marks with the author. Although the question of whether there is a market for this product can be answered with a clear “yes”.

Marketing Geblubber

Mercedes-Benz Marketing has put a lot of effort into it. All sorts of colorful “customer worlds” were sighted and identified as the market for the premium SUV. From the lifestyle blogger from South Africa, who of course decides for the upcoming Powerhorse version with V6 diesel and urban look, to the craftsman who really needs the robust character of the pick-up truck for his everyday life. "The Mercedes-Benz" among the pick-ups. This is how the X-Class is called in the Stuttgart press department. In the end, the approval of the customers will show whether this claim can really be met.

Market launch & price

The pick-up actually celebrates its market launch first in "No-Pick Up Country" Germany and in autumn 2017. The attractive growth markets in South America and Oceania will only be served later. The apparent wonderland of pick-up trucks, the USA, completely disappeared from the focus of the developers during the evaluation phase of the project because the number of registrations there was rather declining. In the meantime, this has changed and a possible market launch in North America is no longer entirely unthinkable. However, it is doubtful whether the engine portfolio currently being considered is sufficient. Modern turbo petrol engines are missing and an eight-cylinder engine is also not planned.

The starting price of the Pure model will be around 37.294 €. A comprehensive price list is not yet available.

For whom the X-Class is suitable

For people for whom status is at least as important as the pragmatic use of a pick-up. But who can not make friends with Volkswagen or a full-size US model.

The X - it stands for an unknown

Wash me, but don't get me wet! Or: The apple doesn't fall far from the tree.

According to Mercedes-Benz, it worked massively on the Nissan Navara. Hardly any component remained unadjusted and even the window line, which had the same visual appearance, was an independent solution.

Now. Automobile nerds are likely to rub against the end product as well as against the unfortunate Mercedes-Citan or the cooperation product smart. Even if many components have been changed, too many switches, buttons, the shape of the mirror, the headrests and the entire frame of the Stuttgart pick-up still speak fluently Japanese and not Swabian. A real Schwabe would have got the gear lever on the steering column, the seat adjustment in the door and the seat heating switch would have ended up in the center console. And of course you would have opted for a drive train from our own production. For "non-car nerds" it may sound like unnecessary criticism from self-loving car journalists - but what exactly will make a Mercedes a Mercedes in the future if you are too willing to buy not only the invisible under the sheet, but also on who no longer values ​​things that can be clearly identified? Mercedes Benz? I am looking forward to a large MOPF version of the X-Class. Because the right step is shown by the immediate familiarity with the Mercedes central star in the nose of a robust pick-up truck.


Tough job

Such an assessment of a completely new vehicle is not always an easy task. Mercedes-Benz invited the world journals to South Africa especially for this purpose and created a unique setting in which to get to know the new model. For many colleagues, a good relationship with the contact people they have come to love is important and criticism is rarely really easy to formulate. But I think that you - as a reader of “mein-auto-blog” - have the right to also deal with unpleasant topics as a car nerd. I have been involved in the car topic for over 25 years. I am a trained car technician and businessman and I know the PR games of the industry. And even if some things don't get off too well in the first assessment, I think it's important to be open about the criticisms that you have as a nerd. It remains to be seen whether it will be decisive for you - for "you" in the end. For me it is important to keep the credibility and it is part of this not to clap.





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