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What’s the difference between the Mercedes-Benz X-Class and the Nissan Navara?

  • Both pickups based on the same platform
  • Outside, inside and oily bits compared
  • How Mercedes justifies X-Class price premium

When Mercedes-Benz unveiled the production version of its new X-Class pickup truck, it’s fair to say there was some disappointment that it didn’t look as outstandingly individual as the muscular X-Class concepts shown in 2016.

In fact, a few people have begun to question what actually makes the X-Class (above) any different to the Nissan NP300 Navara (below) that it’s based on. Especially given the pricing information we have for the Mercedes so far suggests it’s going to cost £1,000s more than the equivalent Nissan.

So we thought we’d put together a little explainer – not to promote one pickup over the other (as we’ve not driven the X-Class at this stage), but simply to show you what the differences really are, and therefore what you’ll be getting for your money.

Mercedes X-Class full review on Parkers Vans

Mercedes-Benz X-Class vs Nissan Navara – exterior

Without the massive wheels and extended wheelarches of the concept versions, the X-Class certainly looks very similar to the Navara on the outside at first glance.

And yet Mercedes personnel claim just five exterior parts are carried over between the two. So what gives?

Look a little more closely, and you’ll see that every exterior panel (except perhaps the roof) is different on the X-Class. We’ve covered the exact difference in the dimensions section below, but here are some of the finer details.

  • The front wings are wider
  • The rear wings are also wider, but the rear overhang is longer, too
  • The load area is similarly slightly longer
  • The doors are completely reskinned – not only is the crease at the bottom different but the kink in the rear window line is also at a different angle. There’s no angle to the lower front window line at all
  • The bonnet and front bumpers are new
  • The rear bumpers are new, and include a built-in step as standard
  • The lights are new front and rear, with high-tech full-LED headlamps available on the X-Class

If you’re concerned the changes are just cosmetic, keep reading…

Nissan Navara vs Mercedes-Benz X-Class – under the skin

The X-Class does use fundamentally the same ladder-frame structure as the Navara. But the engineer we spoke confirmed that Mercedes has made a number of modifications.

For starters, the actual ladder frame itself has been reinforced. Mercedes hasn’t gone into details yet, but this has been done so it will cope with the additional power and torque generated by the 3.0-litre V6 engine Mercedes is installing in top-spec X 350 d models.

This motor makes 258hp – way more than even the most powerful VW Amarok – and produces 550Nm of torque in the X-Class. That’s a substantial increase over the 190hp/450Nm available from the most potent Navara engine (which Mercedes will also be using), so you can see why the upgrade would be necessary.

The improvements will also help the lesser four-cylinder engines (available with 163hp/403Nm as well as 190hp/450Nm) perform better. No word at this stage whether Nissan will be adopting the same changes, though the X-Class will be built on the Navara’s production line in Spain.

Elsewhere, the outer part of the front and rear axles has been changed for the X-Class, making the track wider for greater cornering stability. The X-Class also gets disc brakes all round as standard – a novelty in the pickup truck class.

The springs, dampers and bushings (which fall under the general heading of kinematics) have all been modified. The idea here is to give the X-Class sharper steering and a firmer, more controlled ride.

UPDATE: Having now driven the X-Class, we can confirm these changes have given the Mercedes a sharper, more refined driving experience, without sacrificing ride comfort. You can read our full review for more details, but it is very impressive.

Both models use complex, car-like multilink rear suspension with coil spring instead of the older-style leaf springs that are traditionally fitted to pickups.

Riding shotgun in the Mercedes-Benz X-Class

Mercedes-Benz X-Class vs Nissan Navara – interior

It’s far easier to see where the additional money has gone on the inside of the X-Class – even the entry-level Pure specification has quality that far surpasses what’s typical for a pickup, while the Progressive and Power models are positively luxurious.

Almost everything in the X-Class cab (above) is new. The dials come from a Mercedes-Benz C-Class, the central screen and other controls are borrowed from the Mercedes-Benz V-Class.

The dashboard itself is different, and the X-Class version comes in three different trim finishes – complementing the six different seat fabrics and choice of two headlinings.

Mercedes claims to have made the most personalisable pickup on the market, and we can’t think of any reason to dispute this. The brown leather and wood options available on the Power model are particularly premium.

There are smaller interior elements shared with the Nissan, but none of them are especially obvious. Items such as steering wheels and stalks are all Mercedes-specific.

Nissan Navara vs Mercedes Benz X-Class – dimensions

Mercedes is yet to release the full exterior dimensions for the X-Class, but we have enough of the major ones to make a comparison (Navara stats are based on a top-spec double cab).

         
 
X-Class      
 
  Navara
Exterior Dimensions                        
Length           5,340mm           5,330mm
Width           1,920mm           1,850mm
Height           1,819mm           1,805mm
Wheelbase           3,150mm           3,150mm
Front track width           1,632mm           1,570mm
Rear track width           1,625mm           1,570mm
Load area dimensions                        
Load area length           1,587mm           1,537mm
Load area width           1,560mm           1,560mm
Width between wheelarches           n/a           1,130mm
Load areas side wall height           474mm           474mm
Maximum payload           1,042kg           1,047kg
Maximum towing capacity           3,500kg           3,500kg
Off-road credentials                        
Ground clearance           201-221mm*           223mm
Approach angle           28.2-30.1 deg*           32.2 deg
Departure angle           23.8-25.9 deg*           25.0 deg
Breakover angle           20.4-22.0 deg*           22.2 deg

*Greater figure with optional off-road suspension

So the X-Class is longer and wider, but its load bed is only longer, and its maximum payload is 5kg less than the Navara’s.

The Nissan also has higher suspension, and would appear better suited for off-road work as a result – which tallies with Mercedes’ determination to make the X-Class the best pickup to drive on the road.

 

Also read:

Mercedes X-Class full review on Parkers Vans

Mercedes-Benz X-Class: official details and pictures of new premium pickup

Riding shotgun in the Mercedes-Benz X-Class

Nissan NP300 Navara full review on Parkers Vans

Mercedes-Benz X-Class Concepts revealed at last

The Parkers Vans pickup group test - every major model compared

New pickups coming soon