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Review: We drove Mercedes' new posh pickup truck - the potent V6 X-Class

We test the luxury pickup truck both on and off-road.

LAST YEAR, MERCEDES-BENZ launched its first ever pickup truck, the X-Class, which is based on the Nissan Navara platform.

Up until now the X-Class has not only shared a chassis with the Navara, but also the same engines, gearbox and four-wheel-drive system.

However, this new X 350 d model is now a full-on Mercedes product – with a Mercedes built engine, Daimler 7G-Tronic Plus gearbox, Merc’s 4Matic four-wheel-drive system and yet more tweaks to the suspension. This means that the V6 thrusts the posh pickup even more upmarket and even further ahead of its closest rival, the V6-powered Volkswagen Amarok.

Mercedes-Benz Mercedes-Benz

Previously, the most powerful engine in the X-Class lineup was a 2.3-litre four-cylinder twin-turbocharged diesel unit. This is a strong unit and it provides good pace and plenty of flexibility, but feels lacking in power when you are carrying passengers and a full load bay.

This new X 350 d model is powered by a 3.0-litre six-cylinder turbocharged diesel unit mated to a 7G-Tronic Plus seven-speed automatic gearbox and 4Matic permanent four-wheel drive, complete with variable centre diff. It produces 258hp and 550Nm of torque.

Mercedes-Benz Mercedes-Benz

Out on the road, the extra torque is noticeable as soon as you put the foot down and those extra ponies make it feel a lot faster than the 0-62 time of 7.5 seconds.

Thanks to its permanent all-wheel drive, the X 350 d gains a natural advantage off the line too. The posh pickup feels rather brisk, considering it weighs more than three tonnes.

The engine is smooth too with an obvious thrust that the four-cylinder engines lack. The 7G-Tronic Plus automatic transmission is also smooth and quick shifting especially when you are travelling at speed, but from a standstill it is sometimes a little jerky as it moves through the lower gears.

The steering is a little on the slow side but it has a lovely weight to it as well as being consistent and accurate. Body movements are kept well in check and grip and road-holding are impressive.

Comfort and ride quality are also very good but over larger bumps the ride can get a little bouncy, especially for those in the rear seats. There is some shimmy over rougher road surfaces and pot-holes, but with a payload this should settle the shudders and make the X-Class feel even more compliant.

Mercedes-Benz Mercedes-Benz

The suspension has been tweaked for more spirited driving and improved handling and the 4Matic permanent four-wheel drive changes the torque distribution to a rear-biased configuration of 40 to 60 per cent – in the 2.3-litre models the centre diff is locked for a 50-50 torque distribution between the two axles.

It’s also worth noting that as most of these pickups will end up in the city and not on the farm the turning circle is rather large so tight city spaces and manoeuvres might be a bit cumbersome. But out in the wild, it is easy to manoeuvre and backup, even with out the aid of a reversing camera.

Mercedes-Benz Mercedes-Benz

Speaking of out in the wild, if you ever do find yourself off-road don’t worry, the sat nav will bring you safety back to the suburbs. There’s also the added capabilities of a 600mm wading depth, 202mm ground clearance (or 222mm with the optional higher clearance suspension), 30-degree approach angle and 25-degree departure angle. More than enough for mounting the kerb outside of junior’s play school.

But, in all seriousness, I tested its off-road abilities and the three different all-wheel-drive modes, 4Matic, 4High and 4Low and I have to say, the X-Class feels right at home on everything from steep gradients to banked curves, to large ditches and moguls. Even at higher speeds the X-Class coped remarkably well with gravel and roads covered in wet foliage.

Mercedes-Benz Mercedes-Benz

Apart from being the most potent pickup truck on the Irish market, for now (there’s a new 258hp V6 Amarok on the way) another thing the X-Class has going for it is its good looks and comfortable premium-feeling cabin.

Standard kit includes Keyless-Go, 18-inch alloys, LED headlights, electrically adjustable seats, two-zone air conditioning and an Audio 20 CD infotainment system with seven-inch high definition screen, rotary controller with touchpad and Bluetooth audio.

Mercedes-Benz Mercedes-Benz

Over all, it is a really smart and desirable package and the selectable drive modes and road-handling really set this pickup apart from the pack.  If you are looking for a workhorse truck that doesn’t compromise on style and also works hard as a family motor and leisure vehicle, the X-Class is hard to beat.

Prices for the X 350 d have yet to be finalised for Ireland.

READ: Horsepower wars: 5 of the most potent engines in production cars >

READ: Review – We’ve driven the hotly-tipped new Audi Q8 SUV. Here’s how it matches up to its rivals >

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