Mercedes-Benz X-Class X250 d 4Matic Power
I often get a few stares when driving brand new press cars, particularly when they are of a sporty nature. This is likely due to the fact that I'm a babyfaced 27 year old, so onlookers must assume I'm either daddy's little rich boy or a master thief. The gawps I got when climbing into the front seat of the X-Class were on another level.
It is, after all, a literal tank. Measuring 5.34m long and 2.113 wide, the pick-up isn't exactly the easiest vehicle to parallel park in tight London streets. But that said, the steering is light and responsive, so it is by no means hard to manoeuvre if you've got room to work with in the first place. The X-Class is also 1.82m tall, so there's not much chance of you losing it in Asda car park.
But it's much more than just a big old chunk of metal with a fancy badge on the front. The flat bed can handle loads of up to 1,092kg, which meant that taking friends to the airport with their ridiculously heavy suitcases was a doddle. It also has a 3.5 tonne towing capability, which is apparently the equivalent of a horsebox and three horses or an eight-metre yacht. Unfortunately I didn't manage to get my hands on either to test the maths.
I did, however, have a quick jaunt off-road to see if the 200mm ground clearance was adequate. The pick-up also has a 'twist-resistant ladder-type' chassis and is equipped with the 4Matic all-wheel drive system, so venturing through a swampy patch of ground on the side of a mountain in Wales was a breeze.
At higher speeds, the sound of the 4-cylinder diesel engine is barely noticeable thanks to some clever noise-deadening techniques. The only time you will ever really hear it is early in the morning when hitting the start button, as if awakening a giant beast from its slumber, but otherwise its calm and collected. Fuel consumption was impressive - I was able to drive from London to South Wales on half a tank (though it's worth noting that the tank is almost bottomless). We look forward to drawing a comparison with the V6 variant in the near future.
Inside are all the creature comforts familiar to the regular passenger car owner, and then some. A 7-inch screen floats astride a curved metallic surface - there's quite a bit of this smooth shiny stuff about, and it matches well with the fancy leather upholstery. The screen is operated by an archetypal Mercedes rotary controller and touchpad combo, which sits on a surprisingly petite centre console. The seamless and instant connectivity between the infotainment system and smartphones is a big bonus, with Spotify resuming almost as soon as the vehicle is switched on. There's nothing worse than waiting for bluetooth to connect when you're in a hurry but just really want to listen to some soothing Al Green.
To help out with that manoeuvring I referred to earlier, Mercedes has equipped the X-Class with a reversing camera as standard. There's also active brake assist, lane keeping assist and traffic sign assist on the base model, while active lane keeping assist only comes with the Power trim.
But for all its wonderful advanced tech that worked perfectly, a single fault with a basic feature marred my experience in the X-Class: the driver's window would not close after I grabbed a ticket to enter a car park. Instead, it repeatedly got stuck halfway up and refused to advance any further. A quick google search told me that this wasn't some bizarre feature, but merely an infuriating mechanical fault that is common on electric windows. Nothing to do with the quality or design of the pick-up, but a stark reminder that despite all the progress made in the tech world over recent years, something as simple as shutting a window can cause headaches.
As with any new Mercedes, to drive the X-Class is to make a statement, the vehicle itself being a status symbol indicative of a highly successful professional. It is swanky, both inside and out, and has a feeling of refinement and elegance despite being a rugged pick-up.
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