The new X-class is being produced in Barcelona since October last year – with rather unexciting 2.3-l. four-cylinder diesel engines. Now Mercedes-Benz planted the modified V6 heart of the Sprinter into the 350d. Dieter Losskarn experienced the reinforced lifestyle bakkie in beautiful Slovenia.
I glide into the comfortable seat and to begin with I pre-ignite the engine for a couple of seconds. Then, while turning the ignition key the diesel rumbles to life with its characteristic nailing sound. Due to the lack of an aircon I cruise with my windows down, arm hanging out, across the small Slovenian country road. Even slight inclines significantly slow down the speed of the 45kW ‘strong’ diesel with its 126Nm of torque. And without power steering beating the bends is turning into a proper workout.
No, I am not in the new X 350d. Not yet. The W115 /8 .La Pickup‘ was being produced in Argentinia between 1972 and 1976. During the world launch of the X in Chile it was still in a poor state and just displayed as a static exhibit. Now for the V6 X driving event in Slovenia it presents itself lovingly restored to pristine condition. And just like during the launch of the new G in France Mercedes is giving journalists the chance to drive the classic predecessor of a current model. At the G launch there were a couple of Geländewagen on stand-by, during the X 350d presentation the red Argentinian was ready for a spin. What a great way of showing Mercedes heritage.
Time for the new one. As soon as you accelerate, you feel the power gain. The modified 3.0-l.-V6 from the Sprinter takes the X 350d in 7,5 seconds from 0 to 100km/h. With 190kW of power and 550Nm of torque you can now even overtake with ease on windy country roads. And at those steeper inclines in mountainous Slovenia the brawny V6 is no longer conking out.
Thereby it is distinctly closer to the Mercedes SUVs, that is the G models, as its smaller engined brother. Aside from the more potent powerplant only the front axle of the top X was modified. To cope with the additional weight of the V6 power plant. Otherwise everything is as ever: multi-link configuration and rigid axle in the rear and double wishbone suspension in front.
From the usual array of Mercedes-Benz driver assist systems the X features less than the A-class – but more than other bakkies. At least 360-degree camera and anti-collision warning are present. Even fast bends don’t take the Merc bakkie off course. It is not a sportscar, but also thanks to the more direct steering definitely closer to a sedan than Navara & Co..
More power allows the 350d to lift more weight. One ton of load capacity and 3,5 tons of trailing load are quite decent figures. Enough to pull a yacht to Haartebeesport Dam or a classic Merc on a trailer in style to a vintage car show. And even full figured drivers and passengers can enjoy beautiful sunsets, while sitting on the folded down tail gate. It can bear with up to 300kgs. And in order to not just crash down on opening, which would be too undignified for a Mercedes, there are two optional little shock absorbers, left and right, which turn the tail gate opening process into a significantly more distinguished affair.
A brief comeback to those frequent ‚Navara with Mascara‘ insults. Yes, the X shares its ladder frame and a couple of other parts with Nissan, but the difference lies in the details. Mercedes-Benz has Daimler-ized the X-class. With a wider track and multiple other adjustments. Furthermore it is, thanks to a better sound insulation, more quiet and comfortable. And the new strong Mercedes heart sets it even further apart from Japanese light lorries.
And how is the Mercedes among mid-size pickups doing off the beaten track? As expected, the V6 offers much more fun there as well. Ability-wise it slots between the G and the Mercedes SUVs with a G in their acronym. Owing to permanent all-wheel drive, hill descent assist, low-range and differential lock there are almost no obstacles the X could be bothered with.
What about the posing part? In the configuration ‚Progressive‘, where the presence of black duroplast is rather abundant, the X is not lifestylish enough. Normal for bakkies, not so common for a Mercedes. With the ‘Power’ option the interior is becoming much more homelike. Aluminium- and wood applications are costing a bit more.
And what’s next in the X files? Mercedes-Benz always listens to their customer’s demands, so a star bakkie with a petrol engine is most likely. After Brabus recently showed their appetizing X interpretation, an X 500 as well as an X 43 AMG are conceivable.
Mercedes X 350d
Engine 3.0-l. 6cyl. turbo diesel, paired with a 7G-tronic auto & 4MATIC all-wheel drive
Power 190kW and 550Nm
Top Speed 205 km/h
0-100km/h 7.5 seconds