DUAL CAB utes have become more than just work vehicles for Australia’s motorists, with range-topping variants now packed with features pinched from passenger car models and fast becoming favourites as dual-purpose work/family vehicles.
The popularity of high-end utes (or pickup trucks, depending on your point of view) has seen Mercedes-Benz enter the fray with its X-Class utility – and it has Australia firmly in its sights.
The idea seemed unthinkable a couple of years ago, but with premium utes such as the Toyota SR5, Ford Ranger Wildtrak and Volkswagen Amarok Ultimate V6 selling for, $57,990, $61,790 and $67,990 respectively, it’s no stretch of the imagination to think that people would happily pay more for a ute with the three-pointed star at the front.
That said, the Nissan Navara-based X-Class will be sold under the Mercedes-Benz Vans banner so, while prices are yet to be announced, they might be more competitive than most people expect.
So what does the top-spec X-Class Power offer over the other three premium utes - apart from its high-end badge, of course?
For a start it’s more powerful, with a 190kW/550Nm 3.0-litre V6 turbo-diesel engine mated to a seven-speed automatic transmission and constant 4WD.
Of the other three only the Amarok comes close with its 3.0-litre V6 turbo-diesel donk producing 165kW/550Nm that turns all four wheels constantly via an eight-speed auto gearbox.
Mercedes boasts an X-Class payload "up to 1100kg", which refers to the entry-level 220d. However that figure decreases up the range as engine displacement increases, with the 250d carrying up to 999kg. For some reason there are no payload figures yet for the V6 350d, hence the 990kg estimate which is still higher than the Ranger (950kg), Hilux (925kg), and Amarok V6 (864kg).
The X-Class’s tray is 1587mm long by 1560mm wide at the floor, which is 3mm longer than the Amarok’s but narrower than the Volkswagen’s class-leading 1620mm width. It’s the same width as the Ranger Wildtrak (1549mm x 1560mm) and bigger overall than the Hilux’s 1520mm x 1515mm tray.
They’re all heavy haulers, but the Benz has the strongest legends. X-Class’s 3500kg braked towing capacity equals that of the Ranger, with the Toyota pulling 3200kg and the Amarok 3000kg.
We’re yet to see how the X-Class performs off road, but it will do well to beat the Hilux in its element with a 202mm ground clearance that’s 77mm less than the Toyota’s. Only the Amarok’s belly is closer to the dirt, with a 192mm ground clearance figure.
The X-Class is the only one of the four to have autonomous emergency braking as standard. It also has active cruise control and lane-keeping assist which are standard in the Wildtrak, but don’t come with the range topping Amarok or Hilux
This is where the X-Class Power will differ from the others. Its premium fit out includes matt black, aluminium and woodgrain trim effects and Artico man-made leather in either black or nut brown. It is also equipped with the Conect infotainment systems displayed via an 8.4-inch touchscreen while creature comforts will include power adjusted front seats.
The Amarok Ultimate is closest in terms of features including 6.3-inch touchscreen, full leather interior and power adjustable heated front seats.
The Ranger Wildtrak has an 8.0-inch screen with Ford’s excellent Sync3 infotainment package, heated front seats with leather accents with power adjustment for the driver.
Hilux’s interior isn’t as flash and comes with a 7-inch screen, part-leather seat trim and power adjustable driver’s seat.