The past year saw a clutch of new models enter the ever-growing 4×4 pickup market. We put three of the newest arrivals through their paces – the Mercedes-Benz X250d, Fiat Fullback Cross and Ssangyong Musso Saracen.
Our test was carried out using a mixed-age group of testers and involved a series of controlled on- and off-road routes.
Below we look at how the Mercedes-Benz X250d fared.
See also: Pickup test: Volkswagen Amarok V6
Mercedes-Benz X250d quick verdict
Mercedes’ first venture into the pickup world actually carries all the hardware of a Nissan Navara, albeit with a generous helping of German-infused bodywork botox to justify the rather juicy asking price.
The classy cab means it steals the crown of poshest pickup from the VW Amarok, but such luxury lends itself more to leisure than work.
The end result is a slightly peculiar package that is neither work vehicle or slick, powerful SUV, but its classification as a light commercial vehicle will give potential buyers a tax break compared with similarly sized cars.
We also felt that, for more than £45,000, you simply have to buy the V6-engined version.
Though the 2.3-litre block is strong enough, there are certainly more reasonably priced alternatives if you’re penny pinching (the Navara being one).
- Engine 3.5
- Transmission 4
- Interior 4.5
- Screen and controls 4
- Ride and comfort 4.5
Price as tested: £45,955
Engine and transmission
The X-Class’ 2.3-litre Nissan engine is available in two power outputs – our test vehicle was the bigger of those with a twin-stage turbo to push power to 190hp.
It delivers healthy portions of torque low down the rev range, which provides pulling power from a standstill and is handy for towing.
However, we found it hung around in the gears in a languid fashion, so acceleration can feel slow and performance is on the dopey side.
It lacks the punch of the lairier Fullback, but the upside of the sluggish throttle is that the cab is whisper quiet and journeys feel calm.
As for pace, 0-62mph comes in at 11.8secs which, to our surprise, matched the Fullback.
Consumption was good too, though it was just beaten by the frugal Musso.
On paper, it’s actually considerably worse than the Navara (about 5mpg down) due to its extra weight, but it makes up the difference on motorway cruises and it is one of the few pickups on the market well-suited to a long trip.
- Engine 2.3-litre Nissan four-cyl
- Power 190hp @ 3,750rpm
- Torque 450Nm @ 1,500-2,500rpm
- Transmission Seven-speed auto
- Weight 2,178kg
- Payload 1,066kg
- Towing capacity 3,500kg
- Turning circle 12.4m
There is absolutely nothing agricultural about Mercedes’ interior, which makes the V6 Amarok look crude.
We’re talking here about a leather-wrapped steering wheel, super-comfortable seats and controls that are laid out like an S-Class cruiser.
It feels marginally more spacious than the Navara, though the thick pillars mean it’s still quite dingy and they don’t help with the views outwards, either.
Our model was fitted with a 360deg camera system that uses little lenses tucked under the wing mirrors to help with particularly tight manoeuvres, though Ssangyong’s crisp reversing camera just about had the edge.
Other cab kit includes automatic emergency braking, hill start assist and traffic sign recognition, while trailer stability assist is an option. In reality, buyers can get most of these toys on other pickups at a lower price.
In the back, the rear seats are quite low to the floor, so aren’t particularly comfortable for passengers.
There is also an electrically opening rear window, which initially looked like a bit of a novelty, but is actually a good way of bringing in fresh air without getting blasted by hurricane-grade winds on the road.
Towing and off road
The X-Class delivers a much smoother ride than the Ssangyong and Fiat, particularly with an empty rear bed.
There is still the occasional chassis shake, but Mercedes has worked hard to improve ride quality and has upgraded the springs and dampers in the five-link suspension system from those fitted on the Navara.
Buyers can also spec an extra 20mm ground clearance for £220 and the rear diff-lock at an extra £495 is worth having, too.
However, it’s short of underbelly cover, so the engine bay quickly fills with dirt and there’s a lack of protection for the fragile plastic trim.
We found the steering quite heavy and distinctly un-car-like at slow speeds, partly because it’s quite low-geared, so the wheel takes a fair bit of turning. The turning circle was disappointing as well, though it’s not the worst on the market.
Part of that is because the X-Class measures far wider and longer than the likes of the Fullback and Mitsubishi L200, though it does give owners a long load bed.
Likes and gripes
- Quality interior
- Low fuel consumption on long drives
- Comfortable ride
- Slick transmission
- Not much back-row space
- Dingy interior
- Fragile off-road with vulnerable trim
- Steering heavy at slow speeds
Rest of the range
Though the X-Class represents Mercedes’ first venture into the pickup market, the German maker is already a big name on the commercial vehicle scene and also makes the crude, but fashionable G-Wagen.
The double-cab line-up includes two 2.3-litre, four-cylinder engines – the 163hp, 403Nm X220d and 190hp, 450Nm X250d. There is also a twin-turbo V6 in the X350d, which offers up 255hp and 550Nm.
It’s a natural rival for the biggest VW Amarok and does 0-62mph in 7.9secs with a top speed of 127mph.
All are built on the Nissan Navara platform, as is the soon-to-arrive Renault Alaskan. Base list prices start at £27,310 ex-VAT and can climb to near £50,000 once all the goodies are added.