Mercedes brings V6 diesel power to the X-Class pickup, along with permanent four-wheel drive, drive select modes and gearshift paddles, transforming the X-Class from trendy lifestyle vehicle to performance-orientated pickup.
In the Metal:
There are no visual changes to the Mercedes X-Class to set the V6 version apart. However, you can pimp up your pickup with plenty of styling packs, trim options and accessories that Mercedes developed in-house especially for the X-Class.
What is different inside though are the addition of paddle gear-shifters and a switch on the centre console that allows you to select one of five different driving modes. The driver can choose from Comfort, Eco, Sport, Manual and Offroad. Each selection modifies the engine response, the gear shift points and the engine's stop-start function.
Curiously, this V6 version has a reduced payload, down from 1,067kg in the X 250 d to 965kg here. Given that the X-Class isn't expected to be put into serious load-lugging duties, we suspect this won't bother the target customer.
The 3.0-litre V6 diesel engine is more or less the same as the one found in the Mercedes Sprinter van and the GLE SUV. It is impressively quiet when idling, and even when accelerating hard it retains that refinement. The engine is smooth too with an obvious thrust that the four-cylinder engines lack. As for the 7G-Tronic Plus automatic transmission, well, it is smooth and quick shifting when you are gunning it along, but from a standstill it is sometimes a little jerky as it moves through the lower gears. It feels a little inconsistent in its response to throttle inputs.
Tweaked suspension for the V6 X-Class means a pickup that is stable and balanced on the road, even allowing for more spirited driving. Even without a load in the bed, the pickup copes remarkably well and feels grippy and composed on a variety of road types, although the ride can get a little bouncy across uneven surfaces, especially for those in the back seats. Fill that bed up though and the ride quality should improve and the obvious chassis-shudder should settle down. But overall, the road-holding abilities of the X-Class set the benchmark for the segment.
The steering retains its slow feel, but has a little more heft to it than before, something that suits the X-Class well and makes it a bit more enjoyable to drive and manoeuvre. Speaking of which, the X-Class is rather easy to park and reverse and doesn't feel too heavy or difficult to manoeuvre, but the turning circle is huge due to those wide wheel tracks, which may be a bit of a hinderance in urban settings.
Mercedes-Benz quotes a 600mm wading depth, 202mm ground clearance (or 222mm with the optional higher clearance suspension), 30-degree approach angle and 25-degree departure angle for the X-Class. We got a chance to test the off-road abilities and the three different all-wheel-drive modes, 4Matic, 4High and 4Low. 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 wet leaf-covered roads.
Overall, the driving experience of the X-Class is more like that of an SUV than a working vehicle with a separate chassis and solid rear axle. However, it is thanks to that robust ladder-type frame that the X-Class can transport heavy-duty loads and cope with tough off-roading.
What you get for your Money:
Irish prices for the V6-engined X-Class have yet to be confirmed, but what we do know is that the X 350 d 4Matic will be available in Power trim, which comes with the following standard features: 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.
As far as pickups go, the V6 X-Class is currently out in front in terms of desirability. Not only is the V6 the most potent engine you can get in a pickup in Ireland at the moment, but the selectable drive modes and road-handling really set this pickup apart from the pack. However, when the 258hp V6 Amarok arrives, with its permanent all-wheel-drive system and eight-speed automatic gearbox, it's going to be a tough call, especially if performance is your main concern. Nonetheless, if you put ride quality, comfort and interior design above how quick your three-tonne truck can sprint to 100km/h, then the X-Class is sure to win you over. As long as you have deep pockets.