By Khulekani Dumisa
Not everyone may love it but everyone definitely has something to say about it. That right there sums up my experience with the Mercedes-Benz X-Class. Let’s confront the elephant in the room head on. The X-Class is based on the Navara. Extensive changes have been made to make it a Mercedes-Benz vehicle but it still retains some of the Navara DNA. Is that a bad thing? If you ask me, no. The Navara is a good bakkie and it was a smart move by Mercedes-Benz to not reinvent the wheel when they could ask one of their best friend manufacturers for help. Someone else might ask if the premium price that Mercedes-Benz asks for is worth it if they have borrowed quite a lot from Nissan to bring us the X-Class. The answer again depends on who you ask. The truth is Mercedes-Benz and other premium car makers already borrow from other manufacturers and charge a premium price for their final product.
Mercedes-Benz tried to make the X-Class look different from the Navara but the side profile still retains the Navara. Fortunately for Mercedes-Benz, most of us judge the car by its front and that part is Mercedes-Benz. The large grille gives the car an aggressive and dominant look. You find cars that are far quicker wanting to give way. The X250d 4Matic also has its unique daytime running lights. Honestly, if you look at the car from the rear view mirror or it’s approaching you, you could be forgiven for thinking that the GLE just went bigger. It’s pleasing to look at a bakkie and feel that way. The back is simple and also has its unique LEDs that somewhat reminded us of the V-Class back lights.
The interior is subject to some debate as well. For me there are a couple of things to say here. It doesn’t feel like the biggest in the class. I will not lie, it does feel premium. The vehicle has some hard plastics but that’s to be expected in a commercial vehicle. Furthermore, the Mercedes-Benz amenities are there. There is a bespoke Mercedes-Benz vans steering wheel with steering controls, an instrument cluster with a trip computer and other information, and a stand-alone infotainment screen. The track pad controller for the infotainment and air-vents make you feel like you are in a premium Mercedes-Benz product. You could for a moment forget that you are still in a bakkie.
My problem is that the front set up is not practical at all. I struggled to find space for my phones (yes, phones), wallet and house keys. The center console armrest bucket is too shallow. The door bins are wide but too low to place things there without almost having to take your eyes off the road. To make matters worse, my hands kept on getting caught in the electric seat adjustment buttons and my sitting position kept on changing. That can unsettle a driver. Other than those issues related to practicality, the X-Class does deliver in terms of premium aesthetic design. By that I mean having driven other light commercial offerings like it in the Mercedes-Benz stable, such as the new Sprinter, Vito and V-Class, I know the lengths that Mercedes-Benz goes to in order to strike a balance between luxury and ensuring that a vehicle is suitable for purpose, and Mercedes-Benz has done this well in the X-Class.
Safety and technology
Like most modern cars, the X-Class has not compromised on safety. Part of the deal is 7 airbags, which is impressive. On the entertainment front, you get connectivity via Bluetooth and USB connectivity. One feature I was grateful for was what Mercedes-Benz calls ‘Parktronic’. It’s a system of cameras and parking sensors that helps with parking and manoeuvring the vehicle.
The Mercedes-Benz X-Class is one comfortable ride. This stays consistent no matter the driving terrain. The vehicle is well insulated; you can barely hear the diesel engine. The power is an impressive 147kW and 450 Nm from its 2.3 litre turbo-diesel engine. There’s a bit of turbo lag at take-off. You notice it at take-off and at high speeds when you need to overtake. Notwithstanding the seemingly high power output, the X-Class 250d is not heavy on fuel. Mercedes-Benz claims 7.9l/100km. I found myself beating this at times where I exceeded it, I did not exceed 8.9l/100km.
The impression left with me after my time with the X-Class is that it challenges the traditional idea of a workhorse bakkie and encourages you to get your mind around the proposition of a luxurious bakkie.
Leave a comment