Mercedes-Benz X-Class takes on its largest rivals

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X-Class could have bling however it’s additionally a succesful workhorse
The X-Class strives to be a low-tax workhorse that doubles as a way of life household 4×4. However what’s it actually like and is it any good? We line it up towards Ford, Mitsubishi, Toyota and VW rivals for a down-and-dirty mega-test

This isn’t a ‘correct’ group take a look at for these autos. As a result of it’s a bunch take a look at of economic autos, not automobiles, and, as a person who offered vans as soon as advised me, there’s a large distinction between the 2.

With automobiles, you’re coping with folks’s personal cash and subsequently their very own feelings. With vans, you’re free of the constraints of both: it’s a transaction and a choice and a dialogue primarily based on absolutes that, for essentially the most half, begin with statistics to fulfill wants and finish with a pound image. And that’s that.

So it should be, then, with these 5 double-cab pick-up vans. They’re so related in structure and intent and functionality that to determine which is finest – to do a ‘group take a look at’ correctly – to your commercialfleet, you must in all probability do nothing greater than sit down with a spreadsheet.

This, then, isn’t such a take a look at. (I imagine some can be found.) This gathering of pick-ups in a disused quarry within the east of England is – maybe inappropriately, however we’ll run with it – much like one among our enthusiast-oriented assessments as a substitute.

Positive, we’ll take a look at the numbers, however we’ll additionally drive round a bit and determine which one we like sitting in and driving essentially the most. A big goal factor, then, however with a little bit of what I’d name subjectivity and others may name blind prejudice thrown in. In spite of everything, it’s what a person small-business proprietor – working one among these on the corporate as a result of it may carry over a tonne, and subsequently the benefit-in-kind tax is about the identical as for a fundamental hatchback – would do. They’d determine which is finest for the cash, but additionally which is finest suited to weekend pony membership or kart observe occasions. It’s extra prone to be left in a single day on the drive than within the work yard.

The brand new Mercedes-Benz X-Class was designed particularly for these sorts of customers. And the arrival of the X-Class is why we’re right here with its rivals. Mercedes doesn’t have kind with pick-up vans – Unimog apart – so beneath, by and enormous, the X-Class is identical because the Nissan Navara (which is why we didn’t carry a type of alongside too), albeit with a greater badge on the nostril and a greater inside. In the most effective double-cab custom, it has a separate physique and chassis, though, uniquely on this firm, it has coil springs and what Mercedes is inclined to name multi-link, relatively than a set of leaf springs, however it nonetheless locates a strong rear axle.

It involves us in X250d specification with a 187bhp 2.Three-litre engine and automated gearbox. I’ve pushed it to our quarry, with 250kg of ballast within the again, and I’ve taken the others, laden equally, on a highway route too. However for the needs of the photograph shoot (and a video you’ll discover on-line quickly), we’ve opted to indicate them at their ruddy, muddy finest.

The X’s closest competitor in ethos is, I believe, the Volkswagen Amarok, notably now that the VW comes with a V6 engine, relatively than a 2.Zero-litre four-cylinder diesel, which VW had been asking quitea lot of in a automobile of this measurement, to the extent that it was fudging the solutions it was giving. It may be had with 258bhp, however on this 161bhp V6 base kind, it’s guide gearbox solely, and subsequently the one guide right here.

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The others have the identical structure: a four-cylinder diesel with an auto ’field. The Mitsubishi L200, right here in 2.four diesel 179bhp Warrior specification, was in all probability the primary double-cab pick-up to ascertain itself as a ‘way of life’ different – purchased and used as a household automobile at weekends. There was once a marketing campaign towards ‘city 4x4s’, earlier than everyone had one, however pick-ups managed to evade the contempt, even because the L200 helped double-cabs turn into if not city 4x4s then undoubtedly suburban ones, what with their upmarket specs, chunky chromed elements and that low benefit-in-kind tax score.

The Ford Ranger, in comparatively upmarket Restricted specification, follows the trail. Right here it has a 158bhp 2.2-litre engine. After which there’s essentially the most ubiquitous pick-up of all, the automotive identified throughout all continents, utilized in conditions so various that some is likely to be used to ship assist whereas different fashions not very distant from them are dispatching .50-calibre shells at excessive velocity. It’s the Toyota Hilux, and if anyone can use the specification ‘Invincible’, it’s in all probability Toyota. However Warrior, Invincible, Wildtrak, Barbarian… there’s a theme with these vans: all names that counsel you are able to do what you need with them.

There are, although, given they’re industrial autos, absolutes too. One in all which I’m going to enter much less listed here are costs, as a result of you may normally have completely different trim ranges, we aren’t at all times capable of take a look at like for like and what you negotiate and find yourself paying out month-to-month is certainly a spreadsheet exercise. However they’re round £32,500-£36,500 (the VW cheaper, however not in case you get an auto, which requires going one mannequin up the vary).

All can tow 3500kg other than the VW (this base mannequin 3000kg, different variants 3100kg) and all can put between 1045kg (L200) and 1120kg (Hilux) within the again. The Toyota additionally has a large rear gun platform/load mattress, however not as a lot area between the wheel arches because the Amarok. Why are all of them able to holding a tonne and a bit? Exhausting-tops are given a nominal weight of 45kg so these vans all qualify as one-tonne pick-ups for tax functions even with these fitted.

All, although, drive higher on the highway in case you put at the very least some load into their rear beds. In order that’s one factor you must know, subjectively, about them: you’re getting a calmer-riding automobile in case you use it as a workhorse. Rugged is one factor they’re.

We drove round this very quarry final yr for a Land Rover Discovery off-roader group take a look at and it’s reassuring that every one among these vans is a extra severe automobile in these situations than any of these 4x4s, Jeep Wrangler apart. The Jeep was the one one as snug rock crawling, on moguls.

That additionally means you may make excuses for the truth that not one of the pick-ups, inside, is especially particular. However even by these requirements, there are variations. Worst is the L200, which has a curious high-set and but low-roofed driving place, so it’s unusually cramped, and which includes a distinctly common set of inside supplies. Subsequent up is the Ranger, which has a greater driving place and a reassuringly sensible structure and a few good infotainment performance, however it nonetheless feels fairly un-special inside.

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The opposite three really feel a shade above – if nonetheless not as good as, say, a typical household hatchback – inside. The Toyota is the blandest and most abnormal of the highest three, however logically laid out. Nothing shouts ‘Toyota’, however nothing does on any Toyota. It leaves consistency of match and really feel to the Germans.

The VW seems like a Golf from a few decade and a half in the past, in that there’s a readability and consistency to its controls, and a few respectable finishes on higher surfaces. However even it in all probability will get shaded by the X-Class, to an extent. There are interesting-looking air vents, and a rudimentary model of Mercedes’ Comand system, matched to some large slabs of shiny plastic pretending to appear like metallic. They don’t completely succeed, however at the very least they’re having a go. In order for you essentially the most car-like inside expertise, the X-Class and Amarok are your cabins of selection.

Does this pattern proceed in the best way the 5 of them drive? A little bit.

Every of the 5 will get a low-ratio switch case and differential however the L200 is, I believe, essentially the most agricultural-feeling automotive of all of them. Its steering is sluggish and imprecise – with extra turns a method than one other off centre, oddly – and but it’s additionally the one which struggled most with the primary of three particular assessments we arrange for these automobiles.

Imagining we’d simply pulled instantly off of a freeway into a piece atmosphere with some delicate moguls to traverse, the Mitsubishi’s electronics struggled with a spinning wheel greater than any of the others. You possibly can change the settings to work round it, however within the others, we didn’t must.

The Ford, in the meantime, has a way more reassuring sense about its controls. It steers pleasingly and the engine is kind of muted – quieter than the Mitsubishi’s, anyway. It additionally rides extra pleasantly, in that Fordy approach the place the steering weights up properly and the controls all have the ‘proper’ type of weight, to the extent that, as Ford’s passenger automobiles do, it presents a definitive cause to purchase one over one thing else.

Is that cause sufficient to decide on it over the Mercedes? I dunno. I think that even in case you’re studying a bunch take a look at in that cares about journey and dealing with, improved steering response may not be sufficient to persuade you Ranger is preferable to an X-Class, however one among these two has to fall subsequent. Over an L200, each the X-Class and the Ranger are extra refined, higher to drive and higher inside, however the X-Class’s match and end in all probability edge it in entrance of the Ranger.

However then the X250’s engine sounds louder to me than the Ford’s and its mildly fancier rear suspension doesn’t appear to offer it any explicit journey benefit to my bottom, both. And the Ford is cheaper, particularly now this take a look at automotive’s Energy trim degree is simply accessible with a V6 engine. I’d go for the Ranger, however my recommendation is to let your explicit spreadsheet and which you’d relatively see on the drive determine which of those two comes third.

I’m snug, although, that there’s a high two, even when the Toyota comes with a 148bhp engine whose torque output begins with a two relatively than a 3. I believe it and the VW, although, each have quieter engines than the Mercedes and, extra crucially, each have extra refined and cozy chassis – the VW notably so.

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Which is the higher, total, of those two is tougher to name, and – usually – it relies upon how you utilize them. The VW is the nicer-feeling truck inside, with an inside really feel that places a reassuring VW arm round your shoulder and reminds you that the whole lot is cosy. Plus its V6 engine is smoother, if thirstier. It’s the extra car-like of the 2.

However these aren’t automobiles, and whereas the Amarok’s additional width (1954mm versus 1855mm) means its cabin is extra spacious and it has more room between its deck’s wheel arches, the Hilux feels extra manoeuvrable, itis simpler to position on slim nation lanes between fields, it needs much less gas and it may pull extra. Each are high quality autos. The VW has extra emotional attraction, however the Toyota feels extra pragmatic and, for that cause, will get the nod. Possibly it is a correct group take a look at, in any case.

Meet the infant ‘mog:

Let’s not fake Mercedes doesn’t know do a pick-up when it needs to: that is the £100,000 or thereabouts ‘child’ model of the Unimog household, the U218 Implement Provider. Which we’d introduced alongside for the giggle of it.

Like different autos right here, the engine is a four-cylinder diesel, and it makes 175bhp, which is within the ballpark of different autos right here too. The distinction is that it’s 5.1 litres in measurement and occurs to place out 553lb ft of torque at an engine velocity at which the others would barely idle.

The utmost energy is all completed by 1600rpm.

All in, on this kind with a tipping again, this ’Mog weighs round 10 tonnes. However you don’t must have the tipper – the clue is within the title.

The ’Mog may be fitted with snowploughs, tree or hedge slicing instruments, lifts, stress hoses – principally something you need from its hydraulic, electrical or transmission-drive attachments. There isn’t any different working automobile fairly so versatile: it’s midway between a lightweight truck and a quick tractor. The Belgian military lately commissioned a UK contractor to make 200 of them into gun platforms.

It’s nice enjoyable to drive.

Sluggish, sure, however with a depraved turning circle, spongy seats and a (comparatively) refined transmission – with eight ahead and 6 reverse gears. The wheelbase is 2800mm and floor clearance – as a result of there are portal gears so the axles sit above the wheel hub – 347mm. It’ll do 56mph, climb a 1:1 gradient – however not on the identical time – and whereas it does that, sure, it feels barely precarious. However it’s nonetheless essentially the most enjoyable any of our testers have had this yr.

The end result: 

1. Toyota Hilux 2.4d Invincible: Pragmatic Hilux has the stats and drives nicely sufficient that it takes a slim victory

2. Volkswagen Amarok Three.Zero V6 TDI 163PS Trendline: Probably the most showroom attraction and essentially the most pleasing engine, in a large, smooth-riding bundle

Three. Ford Ranger 2.2 TDCi Restricted Black Version: Likeable, with a reassuring set of management weights and a fairly car-like drive

four. Mercedes-Benz X250d Progressive: A extra pleasing inside than the Ranger, however elsewhere the Ford might flip the tables

5. Mitsubishi L200 Warrior: Least sophisticated-feeling automobile right here. But in addition normally essentially the most reasonably priced, so if that issues most, fill your boots

Learn extra

Mercedes-Benz X-Class evaluation

Volkswagen Amarok evaluation

Revealed: world’s fastest-ever pickups


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