COMETH THE HOUR…

Already in South Africa… The new Mercedes Benz X Class.   Pic:Carmag

New Mercedes Benz bakkie finally arrives in Mzansi

The Motswana man puts it succinctly: “Go kgalema lenyatso”. Cannot think of an equivalent in English. Probably something like “separating men from boys” will do.

This was my first reaction to news that Mercedes Benz will be entering the mid-size bakkie market with the introduction of the X-Class range some two years ago.

And when the international launch of the X-Class took place in Cape Town in 2016, my long held suspicions were confirmed. Mercedes wants to rule the roost, in whatever segment it finds itself in.

Thing is the latest Mercedes Benz offerings have a certain swag about them. Long gone is that perception that “iMerc is an old timer’s car”.

Think of the Vito, Vino, these are  certainly no pushovers.

And as you read this, all the paperwork is in order

and the first shipment of the all-new Mercedes-Benz X-class has arrived on our shores. Motoring journos and those with high-powered connections will be the first to sample these on South African roads in the next few days…

As to be expected, the X-Class has already set tongues wagging and engen(eering)dering a divided opinion. “Does not look like a workhorse”, “not practical”, “not for everyday use” are some of the comments I’ve heard so far.

Workhorse, well probably not. But nothing to suggest it would not be up to the task when called upon to deliver. The X-Class brief is simple – to target the Chev SS, the Ford Ranger, Nissan Navara, VW Amarok buyer.

It is interesting to note that the X-Class is built on the same platform as the Nissan Navara. But Mercedes Benz are quick to point out that the X-Class is not a Navara.

Though Mercedes Benz people would not readily admit to the suggestion, fact is the X-Class carries the three-pointed star badge and that speaks volumes. Inevitably, this gives it a head start, albeit its late arrival in the game.

Comfort galore… inside the Mercedes Benz X Class.

From the front the X-Class is distinctively a Mercedes Benz, akin to the marque’s SUV’s. On its twin-louvre radiator grille is the three pointed star which you can’t miss as is located at the centre. The headlamps on the high bonnet flows into the vehicle’s wings, accentuating its aggressive yet modern looks. The X-CLass also boasts a somewhat overstretched body, what with its 3 150-millimetre wheelbase.

Getting inside the X-Class a lump form as you come face to face with its high class quality typical of the latest C-Class for instance. Silver trimmed large door handles, round ventilation outlets and an online multimedia system of 5.4 inches, which Mercedes Benz claims to be the biggest in the segment.

The X-Class will be offered in three derivatives, the X-Class Pure (a basic variant), the X-Class Progressive, and the top-of-the-range X-Class Power. In all the variants, the steering wheel comes with 12 buttons to ensure the driver never has to take their eyes off the road.

The seating is high enough, with the top of the range X-Class Power seats being electrically adjustable. Three adults can easily fit in at the rear bench-like seat. Powering the diesel variants, the X220d and the X250d is a 2.3-litre turbodiesel which comes with a 6-speed manual transmission. An added plus is that the two diesel models come with rear-wheel drive or with all-wheel drive triggered at the press of a button.

As with any Mercedes Benz, safety has not been compromised either, with the X-Class endowed with standard seven airbags. There are other electro gadgets like Active Brake Assist, Lane Keeping Assist, Trailer Stability Assist, cruise control as well as pressure monitoring system. Well, to have this new X-Class you really do not have to break the bank as it will retail around the R600 000 mark. As to how it will do in the market, it’s going to be an interesting journey especially for other manufacturers in their attempt to solve for X.

 

 

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