The new top-of-the-range model of the Mercedes-Benz X-Class – the X350 d V6 4MATIC – which made its world premiere at last year’s Geneva International Motor Show, has finally arrived in this part of the world and Van Ireland’s Phil Eaglestone has been getting up close and personal with it, courtesy of MBNI Truck and Van at Mallusk.
It’s not the first time we have been behind the wheel of the X-Class, but it is our first drive in the big doublecab 350 d which takes the Mercedes-Benz venture into the pick-up market to a new level of comfort and driveability.
With 4MATIC selectable all-wheel drive and low-range, drive selection mode, double wishbone front suspension, and multi-link rear suspension, all as standard, it is not difficult to appreciate the difference to the earlier launched 220 d model.
The fastest pickup in its class, and the quietest, it is powered by a 190 kW (258 hp) strong
3.0-litre six-cylinder diesel engine with common-rail direct injection, offering even greater
torque levels and more assertiveness; the V6 provides superior and efficient traction. Not
that we put it to the test, but we are reliably informed that it’s capable of 0-62mph in 7.2 seconds and has a top speed of 127mph.
As we quickly discovered, the standard 7G-TRONIC PLUS automatic transmission is so smooth, with no discernible interruption in tractive power during gearshifts, which, of course, leads to a better driving experience no matter the terrain; steering wheel gearshift paddles also allow the driver to change gear manually.
There are five drive programmes which, at the flick of a switch, allow you to adapt the vehicle’s driving characteristics – from relaxed and comfort-oriented to sporty, dynamic driving. It does so by altering the characteristics of the engine and the shift points of the automatic transmission.
There’s a ‘comfort’ mode which is activated automatically when the engine starts and provides comfort-emphasising, harmonious accelerator characteristics, as well as early shift points, while an ‘eco’ mode changes the gears at particularly low engine speeds to improve fuel economy
If you are feeling a little sporty there is an appropriate ‘sport’ mode whereby the engine responds more immediately to throttle input. Sport mode makes use of the entire engine speed range to change gears, and shifts at higher engine speeds
The ‘manual’ mode uses the gearshift paddles on the steering wheel to manually change gears, leading to far shorter shift times than the Comfort and Eco programmes – and if you like to be more adventurous you can opt for the ‘off-road’ programme which is suitable for driving on challenging terrain. It offers higher shift points and a flatter, and therefore more precisely adjustable, accelerator characteristic curve.
The X 350 d 4MATIC comes with an exclusively high level of equipment as
standard; its POWER Line package includes LED High Performance headlamps, KEYLESS GO, electrically adjustable front seats with lumbar support and THERMOTRONIC automatic climate control. It also features 18-inch 6-twin-spoke light-alloy wheels.
The refined first impression continues into the interior with ARTICO man-made leather
/ DINAMICA microfiber seats as well as the instrument panel and door beltlines in ARTICO man-made leather with contrasting topstitching, and the trim element in pixel-look matt black.
There is also an optional Parking package to assists you when parking and manoeuvring thanks to its camera image with 360° view and PARKTRONIC. The 360° camera makes
the area immediately surrounding the vehicle visible – both from a bird’s-eye view and below the window line. The system visually and audibly warns of obstacles in front of the vehicle and behind, and thus helps prevents damage when parking and manoeuvring.
From a practical, workhorse perspective, the X-Class boasts an impressive load capacity of over 1,000kg, with a 1587mm loading length and the ability to load a Euro pallettransversely between the wheel arches. It also has a towing capability of up to 3,500kg, the equivalent to a horsebox carrying three horses or an eight-metre yacht. All in, there’s more than enough space for all your tools and work materials – or your sports and leisure gear.
There’s plenty of space, too, to store the driver’s and passengers’ bits and pieces, including a lockable glove compartment, stowage under the cover of the armrest with 12-V socket
and USB interface, compartments in the door trims, with space for 1.5-litre drinks bottle, a stowage net in the front passenger footwell, ruffled pockets on the backrest of the driver and front passenger seats and stowage under the rear bench seat. There’s even a spectacles compartment in the overhead control panel.
With front and rear brake discs as standard, the X-Class also has a comprehensive list of safety features, over and above what one would expect from a traditional pick-up. It includes Active Lane Keeping Assist which not only warns you when you unintentionally leave your lane, but also uses one-sided braking intervention (via ESP) to help manoeuvre the vehicle back into its lane. Using radar sensors located all over the vehicle, which also monitor traffic around the pick-up, the technology steps in to correct your driving and keep you and your passengers safe.
Traffic Sign Assist utilises a camera situated on the windscreen to recognise traffic signs and displays them, along with the current speed limit, on the instrument cluster multifunction display – and in the navigation mode on the media display.
Active Brake Assist keeps you a safe distance from the vehicle in front and reduces the
risk of a rear-end collision. The system warns of potential danger, and in the event
of emergency braking, you will also be supported by the adaptive brake assistant.
Adaptive Brake Lights ensures that vehicles behind you are fully aware if you are emergency braking. All three brake lamps will start flashing in the event of a critical braking manoeuvre, or the activation of ESP or ABS. This provides a vital warning and can help shorten a driver’s reaction time. If the vehicles is brought to a complete standstill from a speed greater than 40 mph, the hazard warning lamps are automatically activated to further assist in preventing a collision.
The X-Class’s Electronic Stability Programme is an innovative handling dynamics control system that takes the vehicle load into account. In critical situations, for instance when there is an imminent risk of skidding, it can help stabilise the vehicle by applying brakes to individual wheels and adjusting the engine’s torque.
Trailer Stability Assist also offers dynamic stability when carrying a load or towing a trailer. If weaving is detected it can be limited through the targeted braking of vehicle wheels. This stability programme also includes the ABS Anti-lock Braking System, ASR acceleration
slip regulations, BAS Brake Assist, EBD Brakeforce Distribution and Hill Start Assist.
In addition, the X-Class is comprehensively equipped with 7 airbags and further restraint systems that offer the best possible protection in the event of an accident. A child seat recognition feature automatically switches off the front-passenger airbag if the seat
What more could you want from a pick-up? Yes, without doubt, this is no ordinary pick-up. It really does stands apart from the rest, being equally well suited for work or play. But it does come at a price that is far beyond my reach. Still, as they say, you really do get what you pay for, and if you can stretch your budget, you will get plenty for your money with the X-Class.