V6 X-Class powers into SA market

New rangetopper packs 190kW

Mercedes-Benz Vans South Africa introduced us to the new flagship in its “premium bakkie” range: the 190kW / 550Nm 3.0-litre V6 X-Class turbo last week.

It is currently the most powerful production double-cab bakkie available in the country and will remain so until the facelifted Volkswagen Amarok V6 arrives in 2019, which incidentally also produces 190kW.

The V6 Amarok has been a relative success for VW so far and there is reason to believe the same could happen for Mercedes-Benz Vans South Africa.

But, much of the discussion at the launch last week among attending journalists was just who exactly is going to buy either the Progressive or Power X350d X-Class models, which are priced at R904 188 and R973 188 (including VAT and emissions tax) respectively.

According to the manufacturer, potential V6 X-Class buyers are “executive-level business-owners, families with an affinity for premium products, trend-conscious individuals, as well as sporty and enthusiastic adventurers.”

The Progressive V6 X-Class derivative comes standard with 17-inch, 6-spoke alloy wheels, air vents in electroplated silver chrome, a leather-lined steering wheel and parking brake, infotainment system Audio 20, and an eight-speaker sound system.

Standard features in the Power derivative meanwhile include a simulated, chrome-plated underride guard in the front bumper, a chrome-plated rear bumper, 18-inch 6-spoke light-alloy wheels, LED High Performance headlamps, electrically adjustable seats, and the infotainment system Audio 20 with multifunctional touchpad.

Mercedes-Benz Vans South Africa has also made available an extensive range of accessories, including new sports bar, which can be combined with a roll cover in black or silver, there is a choice of styling bar, hard cover, hardtop, stowage box, load bed liner, load-securing rails in the load bed, and an underguard protector.

There was also some debate as to whether Mercedes-Benz Vans South Africa should have entered the voluminous double-cab market with this V6 X-Class flagship before it introduced the four-cylinder X-Class models, to really make an impact.

There are a number of things to like about the all-wheel drive V6 Merc: it’s a good-looking vehicle that is versatile and highly capable off-road. Overtaking is a breeze and the build quality is fantastic. It is also at the cutting edge in terms of active and passive safety in this segment.

The steering wheel is appropriately meaty and the 7-speed automatic transmission goes about its work largely unnoticed. Manual gear changes can be made through steering wheel paddles, although we rarely found them to be necessary on the launch drive in the Western Cape.

Like other bakkies and SUVs, the transmission also makes the more technical sections of off-road driving a lot simpler than would otherwise be the case.

Key off-road V6 X-Class specs:

Wading depth 600mm
Ground clearance 221mm
Approach angle 30.1°
Departure angle 25.9°
Maximum tilt 49°
Breakover angle 22°
Gradeability 100%

However, there is some noticeable turbo-lag when you really step on the power and, given it’s off-road prowess, ladder-frame chassis and suspension setup, is understandably not as soft as comparatively priced luxo-SUV’s, especially those fitted with air suspension.

The more macho among us are not likely to be bothered at all by this.

Also, those same luxo-SUV’s entirely lack the X-Class’ 1 000kg payload and may or may not have a low-range reduction gear and/or differential lock on their rear axle, like the Merc has.

All-in-all, the V6 X-Class is intriguing new entrant into the South African bakkie market. Let us know what you think in the comments section below!

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