Menu
Lifestyle

REVEALED: What it's like to drive the Mercedes-Benz ute

The Mercedes-Benz X-Class goes on sale in Australia from early 2018.
The Mercedes-Benz X-Class goes on sale in Australia from early 2018.

RECKON there are already too many utes on our roads? It's about to become more crowded.

The Mercedes-Benz of pick-ups, the new X-Class, has just gone on sale in Europe before it lands in Australian showrooms in early 2018.

Mercedes is yet to confirm price but early indications range from $40,000 to $60,000 for twin turbo four-cylinder diesel variants and stretch closer to $70,000 for turbo V6 diesel models due mid 2018.

There will be three model grades, starting with a basic "tradie” version that has a vinyl floor, steel wheels, and grey bumpers.

Depending on your point of view it will be an expensive Nissan Navara or a cheap way into a vehicle with a Benz badge.

The Mercedes-Benz X-Class goes on sale in Australia from early 2018.
The Mercedes-Benz X-Class goes on sale in Australia from early 2018.

In case you weren't aware, the X-Class is based on a Navara frame, uses Nissan four-cylinder engines, and is made on the same production line as the Navara in Spain.

Unlike other model sharing arrangements, it's not simply a Nissan with a new badge.

Mercedes has made extensive changes, adding strengthening beams to the chassis, fitting four-wheel discs in place of rear drum brakes, and it has wider axles for a bigger footprint.

The body is 70mm wider than the Navara and every panel is unique to the X-Class; the only visible carryover parts are the side glass, the exterior door handles, the key fob, and the rear-view mirror in the cabin.

The Mercedes-Benz X-Class goes on sale in Australia from early 2018.
The Mercedes-Benz X-Class goes on sale in Australia from early 2018.

Using the Nissan Navara as the foundation - rather than designing a new ute from the wheels up - meant Mercedes was able to join the booming segment faster. It's also cheaper to share development costs than go it alone.

The X-Class will have some technology firsts for the class, such as automatic emergency braking - standard on all models - which slams on the brakes if the driver isn't paying attention.

It will avoid a rear-end crash at suburban speeds and mitigate impacts at freeway speeds.

The X-Class is also available with a high-resolution 360-degree camera - another class first - which can be handy for off-roading, or when trying not to scratch the alloy wheels on a gutter.

The Mercedes-Benz X-Class goes on sale in Australia from early 2018.
The Mercedes-Benz X-Class goes on sale in Australia from early 2018. Daimler AG - Product Communicati

All models come with seven airbags, including one for the driver's knee, the same number as in the Toyota HiLux and Nissan Navara. That's one more airbag than most utes on the market, and three more than the Volkswagen Amarok, which lacks rear airbag protection.

You could be forgiven for thinking, being a Mercedes, the X-Class would come with the works.

But it has some notable omissions, proving no one vehicle is yet to get it completely right in this segment.

The flagship X-Class only comes with faux leather seats - they're a "leather look” vinyl - even though the top end Toyota HiLux and Volkswagen Amarok have genuine leather seats.

The Mercedes-Benz X-Class goes on sale in Australia from early 2018.
The Mercedes-Benz X-Class goes on sale in Australia from early 2018.

Radar cruise control and lane-keeping technology - available on the Ford Ranger - are not available at any price on an X-Class.

Tyre pressure monitors - standard on the flagship Volkswagen pick-up - are also missing from the Mercedes options list.

The X Class lacks a household power socket in the centre console - standard on the most popular variants in the Ford Ranger and Toyota HiLux line-ups - which can be used to charge a laptop or power a small fridge.

It also misses out on Apple Car Play and Android Auto - standard on the Ford Ranger, Holden Colorado, and Volkswagen Amarok and most new Mercedes passenger cars.

Mercedes says smartphone mirroring will be introduced to X-Class about a year after launch, but can't be retro-fitted to vehicles sold before then.

The Mercedes-Benz X-Class goes on sale in Australia from early 2018.
The Mercedes-Benz X-Class goes on sale in Australia from early 2018.

ON THE ROAD

First impressions? It's a good first effort but - and this may come as a shock - we're not sure it's better than a Volkswagen Amarok to drive.

Mercedes has worked wonders when it comes to suppressing noise from the diesel engine, but only the most expensive model gets the extra sound deadening. Lesser grades are noisy.

The ride comfort is better than the Navara on which it is based, but the X-Class still gets the jitters on patchy roads.

This is a trait of most utes but, based on our experience, the Ford Ranger and Volkswagen Amarok deliver a smoother ride.

The Mercedes-Benz X-Class goes on sale in Australia from early 2018.
The Mercedes-Benz X-Class goes on sale in Australia from early 2018.

The steering is cumbersome. At three-and-a-half turns lock-to-lock it can feel like steering a bus in tight corners. The steering is also not as linear in feel or as well weighted as the Toyota HiLux, Ford Ranger or Volkswagen Amarok.

The start-stop button on the flagship X-Class is hidden from view below the dash, there's limited oddment storage in the centre console and the cup holder is too small for larger smartphones.

The air-conditioning and four-wheel-drive controls are poorly placed down low in the dash, and are hard to see and use quickly.

The "theatre style” back seat is higher than the front seats so passengers have a better view, but taller passengers may find headroom a bit tight.

The Mercedes-Benz X-Class goes on sale in Australia from early 2018.
The Mercedes-Benz X-Class goes on sale in Australia from early 2018.

Four-wheel disc brakes are unique in the four-cylinder ute category; only the Amarok V6 matches Mercedes in this regard at this stage.

But the brake pedal on the test cars felt long and spongy, versus the precise feeling of the HiLux which has four-piston brake calipers up front. Mercedes, however, says braking performance is best in class.

The massive turning circle of 13.4 metres - thanks in part to wider axles - is worst in the class, compared to Navara (12.4m), HiLux (12.6m), Ranger (12.7m) and Amarok (12.95m).

Power outputs from the X Class twin turbo 2.3-litre turbo diesel four-cylinder engines (120kW/403Nm and 140kW/450Nm) are unchanged from the Nissan Navara and use the same six-speed manual or seven-speed auto transmissions.

The Mercedes-Benz X-Class goes on sale in Australia from early 2018.
The Mercedes-Benz X-Class goes on sale in Australia from early 2018.

But the X-Class has piled on the kilos thanks to the extra chassis strengthening and bigger body.

It's almost 300kg heavier than the Navara and about 200kg heavier than most ute rivals, which blunts performance.

These aren't meant to be race cars, but the X Class four cylinder models are about one second slower to 100km/h than the equivalent Nissan.

The Mercedes-powered turbo diesel 3.0-litre V6 (190kW/550Nm) matched to a seven-speed auto and full-time all-wheel-drive promises to match or better the performance of the V6 Amarok (165kW/550Nm), which has an eight-speed auto and full-time all-wheel-drive.

VERDICT

The Mercedes X Class will likely rank among the top three or four utes in the segment and many will buy it for the badge alone. But there's already room for improvement.

3.5 stars

Topics:  dual cab ute mercedes mercedes-benz mercedes-benz australia mercedes-benz x-class new mercedes ute review road test



M'boro candidates awaiting election results

Maryborough's state candidates at the Burrum District Community Centre in Howard.

Voting has finished and now the candidates are awaiting results.

OPINION: Now the campaign is over, the real test will begin

What we need now is a leader who isn't going to forget about us.

LIVE: Labor, One Nation in tight battle for Maryborough

Hervey Bay Chamber of Commerce meet the candidates forum, Aquavue - Adrian Tantari (Labor), Jenni Cameron (Greens), Ted Sorensen (LNP), Damian Huxham (One Nation) and Jannean Dean (Independant).

Rolling coverage from the 2017 state election.

Local Partners

premium_icon Thorpe: ‘I would love being a father’

Ian Thorpe recently became an uncle. As he plans the next stage of his life with partner Ryan Channing, Thorpe hasn’t ruled out becoming a father himself.

'Castrate you all': Vile letters target Coast same-sex couple

Kirk Muddle and his partner Andrew, who have lived in Maroochydore for 11 years, have been targeted with a series of handwritten notes saying "no to gays" in the wake of the 'Yes' vote.

Massive support after couple post hate letters on social media

Woman ‘drowning’ in her own faeces

Kelly, 34, has spent the past 11 weeks in Southmead Hospital, Bristol, vomiting her own poo after she claims a surgeon damaged her bowel during a routine surgery.

Her lungs are filling with faeces, stopping her from breathing

Tri-coloured beauty on show

Closeup of violet brunfelsia jasmine flower.

The unsung heroes of the garden that work well in any setting

Sunshine Coast start for Holden Equinox SUV

The all-new Holden Equinox will go on sale in December.

Chevrolet-inspired SUV to arrive on the Coast.

Robert Irwin and animals stop by Jimmy Fallon's Tonight Show

Here's what happened when Robert Irwin and animals met Jimmy Fallon

Don't be blinded by choice

On-trend plantation shutters suit our casual, coastal-obsessed interiors.

How to choose the best window dressings for rooms