Mercedes-Benz enters ute market

MERCEDES-BENZ X-CLASS: At home on or off-road.

A significant new utility vehicle has entered the light commercial market.

Mercedes-Benz New Zealand has launched the X-Class ute that lands here in 13 variations with the choice of two turbocharged four-cylinder engines. There are also six-speed manual or seven-speed automatic gearbox options. A V6 diesel will land in New Zealand later this year.

The four-cylinder engine has a displacement of 2.3-litre. There are two power outputs, with a single turbocharger it generates 120kW, in twin-turbo form it is rated at 140kW. The single turbo ute is available as rear-wheel-drive only or with engageable four-wheel-drive. The twin-turbo model is an engageable four-wheel-drive model only.

Mercedes-Benz claims a payload of up to 1.1-tonne and a tow rating of 3.5-tonne, the deck area is one of the largest in its class, capable of containing a standard-size pallet between the wheel arches.

The X-Class is available in three grades – Pure for a working role, Progressive for higher quality and comfort, and Power as the high-end variant for urban lifestyles.

Initial driving impressions on a twisty, hilly route were of competence and control.

While there is an unmistakeable ute feel about the X-Class, Mercedes-Benz has created suspension settings which absorb uneven road surfaces without compromising occupant comfort nor its load bearing capability.

As part of a joint collaboration, the new X-Class is loosely based on Nissan’s Navara platform, the live axle rear suspension is similar with its coil spring, multiple-link design, however, Mercedes-Benz claim changes to improve ride quality and load bearing properties.

Any road surface imperfection that isn’t captured by the suspension is well absorbed by body-forming seats which are hugely comfortable.

The X-Class also steers well and has direct response to steering wheel input.
During the media launch event for X-Class a short off-road route was included, the 222mm ground clearance figure was tested along with both high and low ratio four-wheel-drive settings. The X-Class also has realistic approach and departure angles of 30deg and 25deg respectively.

At this stage all X-Class models will be double cab variants with cab-chassis models available.

The X-Class receives a five-star Australasian New Car Assessment Program safety rating.

Prices start at $53,300 and end at $69,000. Mercedes-Benz is also offering a large range of accessories and packages.

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