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X350d - my thoughts

 
Old 06-27-2019, 10:01 AM
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'17 GLS500. Previously '14 C250, '13 ML500, '12 C250, '08 ML500, '07 E500 & '03 A160
Thumbs up X350d - my thoughts

Iíve just had the X350d 4MATIC pickup as a service loaner for a couple of days, so I thought Iíd share my thoughts on it.

The X-Class is MBís new pickup/utility. You can find more information at either https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Mercedes-Benz_X-Class or MBAuPís website at https://www.mercedes-benz.com.au/vans/en/x-class.

The X-Class entered production in late-2017. This new vehicle, developed in conjunction with the Nissan-Renault Alliance, is assembled at Nissan and Renault plants in Europe and South America. Many critics, including myself until this week, claim the X-Class is just a re-badged Nissan Navara, but after spending a couple of days in one, I was pleasantly surprised. Thereís loads of MB technology, enhancements and features thrown into this vehicle, and the way it drives certainly proves all of that. MB have allegedly reworked and improved the suspension and drivetrain, and tweaked many other components, which is obvious compared to driving the current model NP300 Nissan Navara.

Being employed in the passenger transport industry over the years I have driven plenty of twin-cab pickups (Toyota Hiluxes, Ford Rangers, Nissan Navaras and one VW Amarok) but the X350d certainly beats them all hands down as far as driving dynamics and overall finish. It has more than enough grunt being powered by MBís OM642 V6 turbo-diesel, and it rides really well, even over rough road surfaces. It almost handled as well as a car! The one I drove was equipped with highway tyres and 19-inch multi-spoke wheels, but I think it would be much better with the 18-inchers IMO, and of course theyíd be much more suitable for off-roading, plus purchasing all-season/off-road tyres.

This Ďtruckí isnít cheap priced at over $90,000 AUD here (approx. $63,000 USD). Thereís also 2 other variants available - the X220d & X250d for much less, but theyíre still powered by the Nissan/Renault 2.3 litre 4-cylinder diesel engine and 7-speed transmission. The X350d at least has MBís V6 diesel and 7-speed transmission. I havenít driven the X220d or X250d so I canít comment on or compare those. Both of these lower end models are available with a manual transmission though, so they could be interesting to drive.

So, for all of that money youíd expect a pretty premium vehicle, right?

Well, to be honest the cabin is really nothing special, and only feels Ďhalf Benzí to me. Itís more of a hybrid Mercedes/Nissan in some ways.

A lot of the interior seems to be taken from the W205 C-Class sedan, so it has the same instrument cluster, steering column & wheel with MBís indicator/wiper & Cruise Control stalks, COMAND screen, headlight switch, and the switches from under the aircon vents that allow you to change between NAV, MEDIA, RADIO & VEHICLE and turn the hazard lights on/off etc. Thereís also MBís touchpad & wheel in the centre console area, but thatís pretty much where it ends. The aircon control panel appears to be identical to the Navaraís, along with the transmission lever (although it does have the MB emblem on top), and a manually operated old-school hand brake. This part feels a little cheap which is a little disappointing.

There is also MBís lane keep assist (not sure if itís active or passive), but unfortunately thereís no Distronic or Blind Spot Assist, but there is normal MB cruise control and Speedtronic speed limiter. Thereís also no auto door locks after you drive off (you have to lock them yourself if desired), no automatic mirror folding (although you can do it manually too), and no reach adjustment for the steering wheel, itís only adjustable up & down but itís manually operated with a lever under the steering column. I wouldnít say this is premium for a $90+k vehicle.

I found the front seats very comfortable for a pickup, with MB Artico leather with a similar trim pattern to the C-Class again. However, the rear seat is quite high and Iím only 168cm tall, but found thereís only about 6cm between the top of my head and the roof, so anybody a little taller than me could be rather uncomfortable back there on a long drive.

On top of all that, I think MB could have designed a much nicer front end on this vehicle. To me it already looks a little dated with those headlights. Why they didnít use the same/similar headlamps as some of their other models baffles me, and IMO they would have looked a lot nicer and given this truck a real sleek front-end stance, instead of the slightly boring look it has now. Perhaps theyíll do something here during a midlife refresh/facelift, thatís assuming sales of the X-Class enable production to continue that long.

The way the registration plate mount sits on top of the front bumper looks awful, especially if you fit slimline type plates like in the photos.

Some say the rear looks identical to a Nissan Navara just with a MB badge instead of Nissan. The tail lights are slightly different though, and the rear bumper, but to those without a keen eye for detail will find they basically look the same.

I also feel MB should have done a little more to make the cabin more premium. Some say itís rather bland, and I tend to agree. Some ambient lighting along the doors and lower dash would look great, and perhaps they should have continued the aluminium/wood trim around onto the doors too, like a normal MB generally has. This would have given it an edge over itís competitors and the cabin a much more prestigious feel, which is what Iíd expect for this sort of money being spent.

Itís a pity I didnít have more time with this vehicle, because perhaps I would have discovered some other features. I am also curious to see how it would handle off-road driving, with the right wheels and tyres fitted. Iím confident it would perform relatively well. On the second day I had this vehicle it started raining fairly hard for a couple of hours and it was impressive how it stuck to the road and drove in these conditions when the road surface was really slippery, especially in those early moments before the rain had a chance to wash all the oil and other gunk away from the road.

I donít understand why the X-Class isnít sold in North America. Perhaps itís because itís only available in diesel and doesnít meet the USís strict emission requirements? Also, South East Asia, especially Thailand. Weíre over there at least once a year on an annual holiday, and there seems to be more pickups on the road there than anything else, excluding motorbikes of course. The locals certainly love to use their vehicles as status symbols, so the X-Class seems like a perfect fit for their vehicle requirements and culture. Itís possibly too expensive to be sold there, and impossible to compete with the Toyota Hilux or Ford Ranger as theyíre locally built and obviously donít have any import taxes. In saying all of that though, I still think the X-Class would sell relatively well, as thereís plenty of affluent members of society who donít hesitate to spend loads of their vehicles.

So, would I buy one?
Yes, if money was no object and I wanted a twin-cab pickup, and if I wanted the badge credibility. I do still struggle with that price tag though, considering itís not a Ďfullí Mercedes-Benz. As an alternative I wouldnít buy a Navara, but I would consider a Hilux or Ranger but neither of those offer a V6 diesel, so the X350dís only real competitor is the VW Amarok V6 and even fully loaded with options theyíre still about $10k cheaper.

If thereís anybody else with an X-Class (or has test driven one) please share your thoughts with us too.

Cheers, from Down Under!















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Old 07-08-2019, 10:16 AM
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X350d GLE500e 2017, ML350 BlueTec 2012(sold), A200 2013, ML350CDI 2009(sold), Aston Martin DB7 2003
Fair comment Benz Werd.
I have an X350d now with about 5,000 km. and have a few comments too.
First and most disappointing, is an engine vibration. I didn't notice it on the test drive, or when I picked the car up, but it developed within a few hundred kms. And when I took it to the dealer, the comment was they all do it! Well I have had ML350 W166 & W164 with the same motor and they don't do it!
Then I noticed the seat backrest was always going down. After a while, I realised I must be nudging the backest control on the side of the seat as I enter and leave. A trivial complaint for sure, but as there is no memory function its a nuisance. Could be fixed by using a smaller button, or even better contoured one anyway.
The positioning of the start button is perhaps a residue of the Nissan heritage, it's in an awkward position.
The centre console is a comedown. Very limited storage space. The drink holders are positioned so the drink bottles are always in your elbows way. Fortunately you can put your water bottle in the door pocket. If they pissed of the gear selector and replaced them with push buttons or even the usual MB right hand column wand, then they could double the console compartment and the Command controller could go forward where it would be easier to use.
Oh if only they had asked me before they built it!
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Old Yesterday, 12:02 PM
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16' AMG GT-S, 11' GL450
I wish they sold these in North America.
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