Ever since Mercedes-Benz announced their entry into the bakkie market with the all new X-Class, Melinda Ferguson has been itching to see what the hype is all about.
Although there’s been much hype around the new Mercedes X-Class, I didn’t think name dropping this bakkie would give me instant great service at a notoriously slack tech outlet.
So a fortnight ago, en route to the airport to catch a plane to George, to attend one of the most coveted launches on the motoring calendar, I discovered my iPad’s cable was no longer operational.
I decided to nip into the renowned-for-bad-service store where I’d purchased it a few months earlier. The store was customer empty. The seven tattooed hipster attendants looked the other way as I made my way to Service and Repairs.
When I finally got attention and told them about my faulty cable, a long drawn-out and complicated discussion ensued.
I was finally told it would have to be sent to the supplier to be assessed and it would take up to two weeks for a response despite the one-year guarantee that I kept flashing.
Damn, my time and patience were running low. The airport and my X-Class awaited.
So I lost my toys and screeched, “I’m a motoring journalist ! I need a cable! I have to get to the airport – I have to fly to George to test-drive the new Mercedes X-Class!”
No sooner did I utter “X-Class” than the comatose crew sprung into action. A brand new cable miraculously appeared.
“Jeez the X-Class,”said the store manager. “Please send me some pics.”
I was out of there in a flash drive. I shudder to think what would have happened if I’d said “Tata”.
This reaction was not isolated. In George and surrounds, the response to Merc’s new bakkie was electric. So is all this hype appropriate?
On an early morning challenging off-road track, aptly called Devil’s Peak Pass I got to experience the X-Class’s superb 4x4 tech and capability in the flesh and later on tar roads and mountain passes in the top of the range X250D 4x4 Power Auto.
The Power is fully kitted out with some delicious bells and whistles which include an incredibly helpful 360 degree surround view camera, which I found invaluable when navigating challenging descents.
There are also electric sliding back windows, parking sensors, canopies, diff locks, side steps, a hard and soft bed cover, and the requisite He-Man roll and tow bars.
Comfy leather seats, chrome fittings, a gorgeous three-star leather steering wheel and a high-tech infotainment system all give it a delicious premium feel but it’s not too overcrowded with OTT luxury, which helps the X-Class retain its bakkie feel.
While it’s now South Africa’s most expensive double cab, it’s also by far the most comfortable and quietest with least vibrations bakkie I’ve ever had the pleasure of driving in. And I’ve done the lot.
It’s no secret that the X-Class uses the Nissan Navara’s engine, which has earned it some derogatory side swipes from some motoring media – the most bitchy being that the X-Class is nothing more than “A Navara in Mascara”.
These days many manufacturers share platforms and the world’s top selling car brand must have thought long and hard before opting for the acclaimed Navara through its ties with the Renault-Nissan Alliance.
I think detractors may be surprised at how brand-conscious South Africans will embrace this bakkie.
Although it probably won’t be used as a farm work horse, don’t underestimate the power of its prestigious Merc badge.
I’m really keen to see how the X-Class fares in the highly contested bakkie market where Toyota Hi-Lux and Ford Ranger have long ruled the roost.
And I’m even more eager to get behind the all Mercedes 190kW/550Nm 3-litre V6 X-Class which is expected to arrive in SA later this year.
In my books the X-Class definitely has some real X-factor.
Rating: 4 stars
Mercedes X220D Man Progressive R642 103
Mercedes X250D Auto Power R818 340