Road Test – Mercedes X-Class 350d
Content and Photos by Joff Alexander-Frye
Have you ever had an experience that suddenly makes you feel like you are in a scene from a movie? I’ve had several, one of which occurred on a recent expedition to Dartmoor with my wife and children, as I drove the hugely impressive Mercedes X-Class 350d through cinematic surroundings towards the beautiful Haytor. I had borrowed the brand-new pick-up from Mercedes-Benz Van Centre Exeter on Hennock Road for a weekend-long test drive and, with my chest puffed out a little further than usual, had enjoyed taking it for an initial spin back to my house near Tiverton. I am certainly not an ‘alpha-male’ but I occasionally have my moments…
I pulled into the drive that Friday night and saw the whites of my children’s’ eyes bulge with excitement at the sight of this veritable beast of a vehicle. Measuring over five metres long and two metres wide, the X-Class has a bold, muscular front bumper, boasts a large split-mesh grille and has an imposing cab, with a sizeable flat-bed behind. As this pristine pick-up rolled into the drive, to young eyes it must have looked like a fearsome monster truck about to front-flip through a ring of fire over a row of banged-up old cars. Or something like that… Let’s just say that my ‘Dad points’ went through the roof that evening.
Come Saturday morning, we set out for the aforementioned Haytor, which is situated about forty minutes from my house. I was impressed with how roomy the rear seats were – easily catering for my three kids aged five, nine and eleven years old. With packed lunches stowed in the rear footwells and one of our favourite family albums playing from my phone through the in-vehicle Bluetooth entertainment system, we set off to put both the vehicle and our kids through their paces.
It took a little while to get used to the sheer size of the vehicle, although this adjustment was made easier by the heightened seating position of the lofty cab and also the surprisingly impressive amount of visibility from the driver’s seat. Having driven similar sized trucks before, visibility is often an issue. Not so with the new X-Class.
As we trundled through the back lanes towards the motorway, I was struck by how well it handled and responded to my input as a driver. It stuck to the road around corners, accelerated smoothly and provided an even and comfortable ride, on a variety of road-types and terrains.
I asked my fellow passengers for their opinions and my wife Jodie commented on the premium interior, my eldest daughter commented on the quality of the sound system (I may have turned it up a bit to see what it was made of) and my son asked me to “go fast again please Daddy!”, referring to an earlier burst of acceleration I had performed, strictly for the purposes of the road test of course. Our usually talkative five-year-old, who often talks at great volume in order to be heard over her two elder siblings, was noticeably quiet though. I asked her a second time what she thought of the pick-up, again met with silence. It turned out that she had, after only ten minutes or so, dropped off to sleep in the back – something that she hasn’t done for some time. I suppose that was comment enough from her on the comfort and ride-quality of the X-Class.
One of the unavoidable things about the 350d model of the X-Class is the pure power it has at the end of its fingertips. With a 3.0-litre twin-turbo V6 diesel engine, the 350d packs a whopping 254bhp making it the most powerful pick-up currently on sale in the UK. It also makes it, shall we say, a little nippy!
Despite its ability to beat most road cars off the mark, it isn’t just a roadrunner though. With 4-wheel-drive as standard on the 350d and a seven-speed auto gearbox, it is a surprisingly diverse pick-up, capable of towing a 3,500kg trailer. In addition, its one-tonne payload qualifies it as a Light Commercial Vehicle, so business users don’t pay the same rate of company car tax as they would on a similarly-kitted out SUV and also attracts a lower level of Road Tax, making it an attractive proposition for business users.
It’s versatility was put to the test as I drove down single-track lanes, across terrains that most cars would struggle with without getting damaged. Needless to say, the X-Class took them in its stride, much like a parent wearing Dr Martens who smugly saunters over a lounge floor covered in otherwise treacherous Lego bricks.
I was fortunate to have been given the top-range Power trim model too, adding chrome detailing, 18-inch alloys, LED headlamps, leather finish interior, keyless entry/start, climate control and electric front seats to the mix. The X-Class combines quality, composure and desirability, making it a truly premium pick-up.
If I had to find fault with the otherwise impressive X-Class, I would say that it is clearly designed for performance rather than economy. With a combined mpg of just 31.4mpg and carbon emissions of 236g/km, it really isn’t the greenest vehicle on the road. That said, in almost every other way, it was a complete pleasure to drive. If, one day, the power, comfort and versatility of the X-Class can be coupled with the economy of the slightly smaller hybrid SUV market, Mercedes will be on to an absolute winner.
Until then, every now and then, I will dream of my weekend with the Mercedes X-Class 350d and the almost cinematic moment that I experienced as I drove up the scenic road to Haytor feeling like an absolute boss!
To find out more about the Mercedes X-Class 350d, or to book your own test-drive, contact Mercedes-Benz Van Centre Exeter on 01392 349726 or visit the website.