The Mercedes of bakkies – X Class finally revealed after two year wait

By Miles Downard

I don’t think that a bakkie has ever garnered such worldwide hype as this one, the Mercedes Benz X Class. I mean they are, at the core, agricultural vehicles built for the purpose of hauling workers, raw materials, livestock and other such things from A to B over the toughest terrain. Accordingly you wouldn’t expect a company like Mercedes Benz to bother with such low brow activity. However the fact that the X Class exists merely points to what the ‘bakkie’ has become over the last 20 years – a status symbol.

Mercedes Benz themselves realise that their customer base is vast, explaining that, “The X-Class is aimed at very different customer groups: land owners and farmers in Argentina, business owners and building contractors in Australia, families with an affinity for premium products in Brazil, trend-conscious individualists in South Africa and Great Britain as well as sporty adventurers in New Zealand and Germany.”

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The concept X Class has been splashed around the interwebs for something like two years. The actual prototype made waves at the Geneva motorshow earlier this year. But last night, right here in sunny South Africa, the real thing was revealed to the world.

Underneath the X Class it’s, as we know, based on the Nissan Navara. It consists of a ladder-type frame, rear multi-link solid axle, front independent wheel suspension and coil springs on both axles. Accordingly it’ll be uncompromisingly robust and have impressive off-road capability. The X-Class can haul a payload of up to 1.1 tonnes. That is enough to transport 17 full 50-litre barrels of beer in the cargo area. Able to tow up to 3.5 tonnes, it can also pull a trailer containing three horses or an eight-metre yacht. But being a Mercedes there are a few ‘refinements’, let’s say. They’ve aimed for a high level of driving dynamics, stylish comfort and great functionality to make the X Class the Mercedes of bakkies, literally. This is attained thanks to a suspension with fine tuning expected of a Mercedes.

Three models will be available, as follows:

  • The X-Class PURE basic variant is ideal for rugged, functional use. It fulfils all the demands placed on a workhorse. At the same time its comfort and design make it perfect for visiting customers or suppliers and for private activities.
  • The X-Class PROGRESSIVE is aimed at people seeking a rugged pickup with extra styling and comfort functions – as a calling card for their own business, while also being a comfortable yet prestigious vehicle for private use.
  • The X-Class POWER is the high-end design and equipment line. It is aimed at customers for whom styling, performance and comfort are paramount. The X-Class POWER is a lifestyle vehicle beyond the mainstream – suitable for urban environments as well as for sports and leisure activities off the beaten track. Through its design and high level of equipment it reflects an independent and individualistic lifestyle.

As from its market launch, there are two four-cylinder engines. The high-torque common-rail diesel drive system with a displacement of 2.3 litres is available with a choice of two power outputs. In the X 220d, with single turbocharger, it generates 120kW and in the bi-turbo X 250d, 140kW. Both diesel models are available as left- or right-hand drive vehicles with purely rear wheel drive or with engageable all-wheel drive. Due to very specific market requirements, for example in Dubai and Morocco, the 122kW X 200 petrol model is only available as a left-hand drive vehicle with rear wheel drive. Power is transferred via a six-speed manual transmission. A seven-speed automatic transmission is available on request for the 140kW X 250d and X 250d 4MATIC models.

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A high-torque V6 diesel engine will be released mid-2018, ensuring even greater agility on- and off-road. It will generate 190kW and a maximum torque of 550Nm. With that the X 350d occupies a leading position in the segment. The top X Class model will come as standard with permanent 4MATIC all-wheel drive and the seven-speed automatic transmission.

Interior features will be much like what you’d be use to in any other Mercedes (think V Class), with the option of ‘Style’ packages to further individualise your X Class. For example, side running boards and an electrically opening rear window, or there is a choice of styling bar, side bar, soft tonneau cover, hard tonneau cover and roll cover, as well as a canopy. Other items available include a bed liner, a bed divider system, load-securing rails in the floor and a technical under guard.

Pricing, currently only available in Germany, starts at €37,294 (incl. 19 percent VAT). Other markets will be announced closer to their local release times, which here in South Africa is aimed at early 2018 and I’m sure that order book will be filling up fast.

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