IT’S NO SECRET Mercedes-Benz’s new X-Class ute is based on the Nissan Navara. Mercedes wanted to fast-track a ute into what is a booming global ute market so turned to strategic partner Renault-Nissan for its Navara D23.
However, don’t think for a minute the X-Class is just a rebadged Navara … far from it. Strengthening the ladder frame and widening the body is just the start of the detailed re-engineering Mercedes-Benz applied to the Navara to create the first X-Class models, and all that was before they threw out the Navara’s entire four-cylinder powertrain and slotted in their own V6 diesel complete with a full-time dual-range four-wheel drive system.
All this comes at a price, as the Mercedes is comfortably the most expensive vehicle here. As tested it’s $89K before on-road costs; that’s about $15K north of the Amarok 580, the second most expensive vehicle here.
One design aspect Mercedes carried over from the Navara is the use of coil springs for the rear axle, a feature that hasn’t gone down well for heavy load carrying and towing and has seen Nissan revise the rear suspension, not once but twice, since this coil-spring Navara arrived late 2015.
The X-Class’s re-engineering does mean different springs, dampers and bushings – at the very least – as well as a wider track and higher GCM than the Nissan Navara. At 6180kg, the X350d’s GCM is the highest here.
Mercedes-Benz X350d General Load & Tow
BY CIRCUMSTANCE rather than design we used the X350d to pick up the 450kg of sand bags the day before the test got underway, and straight away the signs weren’t good. This sort of weight in the tub should be near undetectable beyond a more compliant ride, but there was a noticeable change in front-to-back attitude to the detriment of the steering and the chassis’s overall stability.
Hooking up the trailer and Rangie the next day – with the sand already in the tub – saw the X350d even more nose-up, bum-down. With the combined weight the X350d dropped some 80mm, the most here, which was made more significant as the X-Class’s rear suspension isn’t a notably long-travel design.
Once underway with the full load onboard and trailer behind, the X350d’s general stability on the country road course was acceptable but, at the same time, the least confident of our six utes. The steering felt the least connected and the directional stability the poorest. If the roads were wet its full-time 4x4 would have been handy, given the other utes bar the Amarok have comparatively primitive part-time 4x4 systems.
Better news is with the notably quiet and refined 190kW/550Nm V6 powertrain, which offers sufficient performance to make relatively light work of the load. Nice gearbox, too; it’s a long-serving and widely used Mercedes unit and not the same seven-speed automatic as seen in the Navara.
Mercedes-Benz X350d Steep Gradient Load & Tow
NOT SURPRISINGLY the X350d was strong up the steep test incline, even with the significant weight it was carrying and towing – it comfortably bettered the five-cylinder Ranger, the best of the rest, and the lesser performing four-cylinder utes. However, the X350d was still no match for the Amarok 580.
Good engine braking, four-wheel disc brakes and a well-performing automatic transmission (with paddle shifters) were positives on the steep descent.
Mercedes-Benz X350d Tow Test Results
Towing Capacity: 3500kg
Towball Download (max): 350kg
2019 MERCEDES-BENZ X350d POWER SPECS:
Engine: 3.0-litre V6 turbo diesel
Max power: 190kW @ 3400rpm
Max torque: 550Nm @ 1400-3200rpm
Transmission: 7-speed auto
4x4 system: Dual-range full-time
Kerb weight: 2190kg
Fuel tank capacity: 80 litres
ADR fuel consumption: 8.8L/100km
|2019 MERCEDES-BENZ X350d PRICES*|
|*Not including on-road costs|
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