Long-term report: The Mercedes X350d shows how capable it can be
We’ve spent a lot of time in the X-Class recently, so what’s it like? Jack Evans explains
“It’s just a Nissan with Mercedes badges on, right?” is a phrase I’ve heard countless times when speaking to people about the X350d. Time and time again I’ve fielded questions about the big Merc’s humbler underpinnings, and just why a truck with relations to the Nissan Navara should cost the best part of £55,000. I’ll admit that’s a lot – particularly for a pick-up truck – but I’d argue that the pair differ enough to stop the comparisons being thrown around quite so liberally.
It’s all down to the engine. You see, Nissan won’t fit Mercedes’ 3.0-litre turbocharged V6 in the Navara because, well, it’s Mercedes’. Having driven both trucks, it really does reshape the entire experience. Silky and with almost endless reserves of torque, it takes the X-Class from feeling rather agricultural to being a more serious prospect. I’ve done several long motorway stints behind the wheel of the X350d, and it’s never failed to impress with its refinement. My wallet hasn’t been appreciating the engine’s quiet nature, however, and for the most part I’ve been seeing around 28mpg – which means pretty much every trip to the petrol station has been a stingy one. It feels, at times, like it’s 70 quid to fill wherever I go – trip to the shops? £70. A 300-mile journey? £70.
I have noticed that the car’s start-stop system won’t engage unless you’ve pressed the brake pedal down quite hard, however. Come to a stop, and the engine won’t automatically switch off, but press the brake pedal down further than you feel you need to and ‘click’, the stop-start system kicks into life. It’s not a life-and-death problem, of course, but it does mean that on occasions I’ve been sat in traffic with the engine running, when I could have been saving fuel (and fumes) instead.
But I have no complaints with the truck’s load-shifting abilities. I had to move a full set of patio furniture recently, and it swallowed all six chairs and table without the merest hint of a need to get into a ‘Tetris’ state of mind.
And what can go in an X-Class down but can’t go out of an X-Class up? That’d be an umbrella, which the big Mercedes swallowed as well thanks to its electronically-operated rear window. I can’t imagine that this was what Merc’s engineers envisaged for it, but I was glad of the feature nonetheless.
I’d like to see Apple CarPlay added to the car’s infotainment system too. It’s a common inclusion in most on-board systems, and it’s one which makes the whole smartphone integration process that little bit easier. As it is the system isn’t bad, but it doesn’t work as seamlessly with my phone as I’d like. For near £50,000, I don’t think it’s a big ask. The truck’s media function also has a habit of repeating a music playlist (I use Spotify) when I’ve switched off the engine, got out, and returned to the truck. Again, I’m being picky, but I think the Merc’s price tag justifies the nit picking.
I’ve got a house move in a few weeks, so I’m glad of the X-Class’ huge capacity for that. The load space really is exceptionally handy, and it gives you the option of taking far larger items than you would do in a conventional car – even a larger estate. The good thing is that the more you load into it, the better the ride becomes. I think two big bags of cement ought to do it properly.
It should – fingers crossed – be a pretty seamless move, providing the new neighbours don’t ask me about the X-Class’ relation to the Navara; I think I’d scream.
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