Reviews

We drive the Mercedes-Benz bakkie

Is it more than Just a Navara with a Benz badge?

I like the attitude that Mercedes has. They have this Jack of all trade master of them all mentality. They consistently prove that they can do anything automotive related. They can go into any segment and dominate it or become a force to reckon with. I’ll use two examples to demonstrate this. The first is the current generation A Class, more particularly the A45 AMG. Mercedes went into the hot hatch market as a new player and totally turned it upside down. Now take the luxury combi segment, the Viano and more recently the V-Class just came in and dominated that market. The folks at Benz literally make their own rules think about the S Class this is a huge luxury limo and what did they do with it? They took it and threw in a performance engine, tweaked it a bit and made luxury sport limos – think S63 AMG and S65 AMG.

The people at Mercedes that know no limits now bring us what they term a luxury bakkie. For the benefit of the 10 000 of the MzansiRides followers that are from the United States and the UAE a bakkie is basically the local term we use for pickup trucks.

I cannot help but wonder if, for the first time in recent times, Mercedes did not get it right.

I am tempted to say the new X-Class is Mercedes Benz’s first attempt at building a bakkie but this would be technically incorrect because Mercedes did make the 6×6 G63 AMG monster pick-up truck. However and in all fairness that was a tweaked G-Class. This is quite ironic because the X-Class is a tweaked Nissan Navara.

Getting an opportunity to drive the X-Class both at its launch and afterwards was rather interesting for us mainly because bakkies are not our forte. So we were presented with a rather interesting challenge. We had to do our homework here. We went to the extent of driving a couple of other bakkies just to have a reference point. And chief among those bakkies we drove was the Nissan Navara. The results we got as you will read are quite interesting.

We drove the Navara in order to be able to give a fair assessment of the X-Class

Our expectation of the X-Class was basically a Nissan Navara with a fantastic interior. We were wrong. When you step into the interior you do get that familiar Mercedes-Benz look and feel as well as high build quality. However there’s something quite ‘offish’ about the interior it feels like its “trying to make it work” the whole time. The interior certainly doesn’t marry the car the way that other Mercedes do. We were genuinely left surprised when it came to the interior as we really believed this is what would set it apart from its Nissan counterpart and the other bakkies. We do believe that the interior is better than the Navara or any other bakkie for that matter, but it certainly is not on the same level as other Mercedes-Benz cars. The small details in a car are very important and its worth mentioning that the X-Class uses the same Nissan Navara key just with the Mercedes-Benz logo replacing the Nissan one.

We did some off-roading and to be honest there isn’t any significant difference between the two cars. They both do brilliantly off-road. Where the X-Class really excels, and no other bakkie can even come close, is its refinement on the road. The Navara and X-Class are completely different cars when it comes to tarmac driving this is more noticeable at higher speeds. The X-Class is by far quieter and more refined than the Navara. There are many areas where Mercedes say they have reworked the car to make it better but in this department it is immediately and easily noticeable. You literally have to remind yourself that you are in a bakkie.

This led us to two questions; if the X-Class’s real advantage is comfort and refinement on the road will it make sense to your typical bakkie buyer and even more important will this justify the slightly higher price over the Navara. After a bit more research we learned that a vast majority of people that purchase these double-cab bakkies don’t actually use them to go off-roading. They are mainly used as everyday family cars that have the advantage of being able to carry the odd TV or fridge which is purchased in the house hold. So they will spend more of their time on the road.  That means the X-Class makes more sense more of the time.

 

It makes sense why Mercedes would want to take this route. Taking a car from a tried and tested brand and adding some of their own touches as they learn this new market. But that is exactly the problem, they have deviated from their usual modus operandi. They tried to be reasonable. As a result we get a reasonably good car rather than their usual phenomenal vehicles.

Let’s quickly address the pricing issue, there is this misconception that the X-Class is extremely expensive compared to other double cab bakkies. This is not true. The top of the range VW Amarok costs R791 300 while the range topping X-Class will set you back R824 205. So it is priced quite within its competitions price range.

 

Pricing

X250d Double Cab Progressive                          – R646 071

X250d Double Cab Progressive                           – R699 200

X250d Double Cab 4Matic Progressive               – R701 615

X250d Double Cab 4Matic Progressive Auto     – R729 675

X250d Double Cab 4Matic Power                       – R796 145

X250d Double Cab 4Matic Power Auto               – R824 205

 

Collaboration Article by

Mpumi Dlamini And Marcus Phathwa

marcus@mzansirides.com

Other bakkies we drove in order to give a fair assessment.
X Class and Mpumiposing for the camera

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