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Mercedes X-Class X 350 d Power (2018) review – 3.0-litre V6 Turbo driven at last

  • Most premium pickup on the market finally has a premium engine to go with its image
  • Huge amounts of power and torque means 0-62mph in 7.5 seconds, 127mph top speed
  • Permanent four-wheel drive and seven-speed auto – read our first X-Class V6 review

This is the Mercedes-Benz X-Class you want. Forget the puny four-cylinder models with their 2.3-litre Nissan engines, the X 350 d is powered by a proper Mercedes 3.0-litre V6 turbodiesel.

It produces 258hp and 550Nm of torque, which is sent to all four wheels by Mercedes' own 4Matic four-wheel drive system and 7G-Tronic Plus seven-speed automatic gearbox – both replacing Nissan-derived parts in the lesser X 220 d and X 250 d variants

Finally, the X-Class feels like it justifies that three-pointed star on the front. Keep reading for our initial review.

Is the Mercedes X-Class V6 really that much better than the four-cylinder models?

Absolutely, yes.

Mercedes X-Class X 350 d pickup review - driving off-road, white, rear view

The Nissan engines are more than fine in the Navara that lends the X-Class its basic structure, but combined with the heavy-weight chassis reinforcement, wider track, premium trimming and additional sound-deadening deployed by Mercedes to differentiate its pickup, they really struggle to delivery satisfactory performance.

Basically, the four-cylinder X-Classes – even the X 250 d with 190hp – are too slow. Especially when faced with a VW Amarok range that’s entirely powered by 3.0-litre V6 engines.

For the most part, the X 350 d redresses this balance, and then some. With 0-62mph taking just 7.5 seconds, the X-Class V6 has got the oomph to keep up with all but the fastest car traffic. Top speed is 127mph.

Refinement is even further improved over the already impressive lesser models, and it even seems to handle corners and country roads better – no doubt helped by the permanently active four-wheel drive system that uses a central clutch to deliver a nominal 40:60 front:rear torque split.

Is the Mercedes X-Class V6 good to drive?

With the V6, the X-Class finally approaches the point at which we can genuinely say yes to this as well – not just as a pickup but as a rival to a traditional passenger-friendly SUV.

It’s not fully on par. For all that the X-Class uses multilink rear-suspension and coil springs at the rear – like a modern car – it can still feel harsh and unsettled at the back on rough road surfaces, which serves to remind you that it is still a pickup at heart.

Mercedes X-Class X 350 d pickup review - front view, white, driving

If it’s ride quality you want in your premium pickup, we’d still suggest you head straight to the nearest Volksagen dealer. That the Amarok uses old-fashioned leaf springs at the rear and still achieves better ride comfort remains a remarkable achievement.

Though we’re yet to drive the V6 X-Class in the UK (the international launch took place in Slovenia), and we’ve had some reservations about just how firm the ride quality is in the four-cylinder models we’re sampled in Blighty, you’d have to be picky indeed not to be impressed with how well the X 350 d can tackle a winding road.

The steering, for example, is much more direct and precise than arch-rival Amarok, bodyroll is better-controlled, and the X-Class not only far keener to change direction, but also unfazed by snaking S-bends and sudden camber changes.

You really can pedal this thing very fast, and in doing so, it retains a sense of composure that seems fully befitting of the Mercedes badge.

Does the Mercedes X-Class V6 have different driving modes?

Another unique part of the X 350 d package, this X-Class does indeed have a driving mode selector on the centre console that gives you a choice of five settings.

The default mode is Comfort, which gives you quite a lazy accelerator response, and smooth gearchanges that come early in the rev range. Ideal for cruising, and generally ambling about.

Mercedes X-Class X 350 d pickup review - rear view, white, driving

You can go even further in this direction with Eco mode, which aims to make the V6 as fuel efficient as possible (hint: this isn’t very) by using still fewer engine revs. We can’t imagine many will bother with this.

Interested in having some fun? Then you want Sport, which will happily hold onto gears until the rev limit, has snappier accelerator response and bangs through gearshifts noticeably quicker. For causally destroying the egos of car drivers on country lanes, this is your choice.

A full Manual mode takes this a stage further, too. Controlled using paddles mounted on the back of the steering wheel, gearshifts are quicker again – though increasingly jerky with it – and the pickup won’t automatically upshift at the rev limit.

Mercedes X-Class X 350 d pickup review - steering wheel mounted paddleshifters

This mode is best if you really want to make sure the X-Class isn’t going to change gear in the middle of a corner, something Sport is still occasionally guilty of. With the convenience of the paddles at our fingertips, we found ourselves using this mode most of all.

Prefer the rough stuff? Then you’ll be pleased to know there’s an Off-road mode as well. Separate to the controls for the four-wheel drive system, the key benefit to this is a linear accelerator response, better for predictable control in tricky or slippery conditions.

Is the Mercedes X-Class V6 good off road?

In addition to the regular 4Matic mode, the X-Class V6 comes with 4High and 4Low settings – 4High locks the central differential to keep all four wheels turning on slippery ground, while 4Low uses a transfer case to reduce the gearing to make even better use of the engine’s torque.

Mercedes X-Class X 350 d pickup review - driving off-road, white, front view

Hill-Descent Control – which uses the same electronics as the stability control system to keep the X-Class restricted to 8mph when travelling downhill in 4High or 5mph 4Low – is fitted as standard. If you’re more concerned about travelling uphill in low traction situations, you can option a rear differential lock as well.

Standard Hill-Start Assist means you can stop and restart on a slope with little difficulty.

Everything works as you’d expect. The X 350 d’s torque makes moderately challenging off-roading seem incredibly easy, in fact – especially when you can also use the surround view camera system to see over crests and avoid obstacles all-round the vehicle.

Mercedes X-Class X 350 d pickup review - driving off-road, white, rear suspension articulation

Just be aware that as with most pickups, ground clearance and chassis articulation isn’t as great as it can be with a conventional off-roader. We did grind the side-steps when traversing some off-set bumps. An optional off-road suspension package with increased ground clearance is available to help with this.

Mercedes X-Class V6 off-road tech spec:

  • Maximum fording / wading depth: 600mm
  • Maximum ground clearance: 202mm (222mm at rear with optional raised suspension)
  • Maximum approach angle: 29 degrees (30 degrees with optional raised suspension)
  • Maximum departure angle: 24 degrees (25 degrees with optional raised suspension)
  • Maximum breakover angle:  20.4 degress (22 degrees with optional raised suspension)
  • Maximum side tilt angle: 49.8 degrees (49 degrees with optional raised suspension)

Mercedes X-Class V6 interior, standard equipment and practicality.

The X 350 d is only available in the top-spec X-Class Power trim level in the UK at the moment, which means you get plenty of toys.

Full details can be found in the main X-Class review, but highlights include 18-inch alloy wheels, dual-zone air-conditioning, LED headlights, Mercedes ‘me connect’ connectivity services, and synthetic leather on almost every conceivable surface.

Mercedes X-Class X 350 d pickup review - cab interior, dashboard, steering wheel

That said, the X-Class interior remains one of its more controversial areas. It looks extremely impressive from a stylistic point of view (at least to our eyes), but there are some poorer plastics in places, it is seriously lacking in useful storage space and there are some Nissan parts if you look hard enough for them.

By far the biggest travesty of all, however, is the lack of reach adjustment for the steering wheel. This too is a hangover from the Navara, and can make it difficult to find an ideal driving position. Concerns about the ride quality aside, this is probably the worst thing about any X-Class.

Mercedes X-Class X 350 d pickup review - surround view camera system on central display screen

Full load bed dimensions and other practicality features can be found on our dedicated X-Class dimensions page.

Payload for the V6 in the UK is rated at 1,067kg; the maximum braked towing rating is 3.5 tonnes.

Mercedes X-Class V6 price, value and costs

UPDATE August 2018 - Mercedes has now announced pricing for the X 350 d, and at £38,350 it is no less than £4,025 more than the 258hp VW Amarok.

It's also nearly £8,000 more than the next most expensive X-Class, but that partly reflects a change in the UK line-up, which now sees the Power trim level exclusively reserved for the V6 model; four-cylinder X-Classes are only available in Pure and Progressive trim now.

As such, this doesn’t mean the X-Class V6 is poor value. You get a lot of standard equipment, unmatched prestige, and resale values are likely to be very strong as well. So you may find monthly finance pricing more affordable than you’d think.

Mercedes X-Class X 350 d pickup review - V6 engine

Mercedes doesn’t have the cheapest servicing and maintenance costs either, but the majority of its dealers run extended servicing hours, which is very convenient.

Official fuel economy data is only provisional at the moment, but you’re not likely to see the 31.4mpg that suggests in the real world unless you’re a saint.

The X-Class is classified as a commercial vehicle, which means flat rate tax rather than emissions-based like a regular road car – good news since the provisional CO2 data is 237g/km.

Mercedes X-Class V6 X 350 d verdict

From the big, brash V6 Turbo badge on the front wings to the immense performance of its engine, the X 350 d is a pickup to be reckoned with. Ride comfort aside, it has probably the most mature driving experience of any rival, and is a vehicle that offers status that is unsurpassed in the light commercial vehicle sector.

We would still advise anyone considering one of these to take a close look at the Amarok before committing – the top version of VW’s pickup delivers even more power and torque, the interior is more practical and Mercedes isn’t at all interested in trying to compete on price. The Amarok is more comfortable, too, if not quite as dynamic as the X-Class.

There is nothing on the market quite like the X-Class, though. And now that the V6 is finally available, for many we suspect it will instantly become the only choice.

Also read:

>> Mercedes X-Class full model range review

>> New range-topping 258hp VW Amarok driven

>> Mercedes X-Class X 350d V6 revealed in full

>> New pickups coming soon – and recent launch round-up