By Mxolisi Mhlongo
The long-awaited X-Class is finally available in South Africa and we were invited to experience this premium bakkie that is set to challenge the status quo.
It is no secret that Nissan had a helping hand in engineering the vehicle, however, Mercedes Benz South Africa was reluctant to give them full credit, claiming that “everything you see in the car was touched by a Mercedes Benz engineer”. When we asked them why they are downplaying their relationship with Nissan, they responded by saying that there is already a perception that the X-class looks like a Nissan Navara and It wouldn’t be fair on their team to give all the credit to Nissan. They had to consult Nissan because they have been producing utility vehicles across the globe and it made sense for them to learn a few tricks from the Navara.
A little bit of history:
Most petrol heads know that collaborations between manufacturers are common and this is not the first time Nissan has partnered with Mercedes – the Infiniti Q50 (Nissan) and C-Class share the same engine. Nissan has been building trucks since 1933, but it was the 1980s that brought iconic Hardbody to the U.S. In 1997, Nissan changed the name to Frontier, while everywhere else in the world, the Navara name was used. This allowed Nissan to grow over the years and they have developed plants all over the world. The deal came into play when Daimler decided to venture into pickup trucks in 2012.
Truth be told, the car has similarities of the Nissan Navara on the design, however as soon as you get inside you know you are inside a Benz. Forget on-road, the car is a beast off-road!
We drove down the notorious Devils Pass in George, Western Cape for a good 100 km and we experienced nothing but comfort. The road is not only dangerous but not maintained as it is strictly used for 4×4 off-road activities. Mercedes is clearly relying on Nissan’s decades of experience in the mid-size pickup category. And while the intellectual and mechanical sharing is certainly the most cost-effective and time-friendly method for Mercedes, it almost seems lazy. Yes, the Nissan Navara is a great bakkie in its own right, but it’s hard to imagine Mercedes needing that much help to produce its own pickup. After all, Mercedes does have a healthy commercial truck arm dedicated to medium and heavy-duty trucks.
X-Class X220d 4X2 PROGRESSIVE M/T – R642 103
X-Class X250d 4X2 PROGRESSIVE A/T – R694 025
X-Class X250d 4X4 PROGRESSIVE M/T (available in A/T as an optional extra) – R696 785 X-Class X250d 4X4 POWER M/T (available in A/T as an optional extra) – R791 315