The good old-fashioned bakkie. South Africa’s workhorse. Utilised to transport larger goods that wouldn’t fit into your car’s boot. The staple of handymen and farmers everywhere. It’s not exactly what you’d associate with luxury. Comfort. The finer things in life.
In May 2018, that all changed. South Africa was introduced to a new type of bakkie. A bakkie with a Teutonic twang to it. The X-Class. Which, incidentally, sounds like the name of an upcoming sequel to a well-known superhero movie series.
This isn’t the first vehicle of its type that Mercedes-Benz has made. There’s been a few others. But they aren’t intended for a mass market. The unstoppable Unimog comes to mind. That beast can ford a river as high as a man and go just about anywhere.
However, this is the first attempt at Joe Public. And much of the X-Class is derivative. As Top Gear pointed out in a recent review, the cost of creating a new car completely from scratch is a hefty investment. And it seems Mercedes circumvented that.
The popular Nissan Navara lends it’s 2.3 litre Renault-developed turbo diesel engine. You’ll also find the frame chassis strikingly similar. But the aesthetics of the X-Class are very distinctive. It has a very bullish, masculine grill, the front bumper almost appears like a hammerhead shark. One could say there’s something unusually aggressive about the X-Class’s looks, as if trying to thump its chests and roar at its competitors, “I am the new alpha male in the troop!”
Currently, since launch, there are two power outputs for the engine. There’s the X220d, which has a single turbocharger that generates 120kW of power. Then there’s the X250d, which will generate 140kW. If you’re interested in this premium bakkie, you’ll be pleased to know both of these options are offered with purely rear-wheel drive or with selective all-wheel drive. Mercedes says all engines will be characterised by quiet, low-vibration running. They will also save on fuel, as they’re designed to maximise power-output in exchange for low levels of consumption.
As far as prices are concerned, the entry level X-Class goes for about the same as a top-tier Toyota Hilux. That’s the Mercedes-Benz premium for you. What you get for that, though, is supreme comfort and all the trimmings you’d expect from a Mercedes-Benz vehicle. Tip-top German engineering, and luxury to boot (plus, obviously, a generous boot size…).
This may not be for you if you’re an urban commando, and perhaps is too hefty a price for weekend warrior weekends away. You could find yourself an SUV for less that has comfort a plenty. But if you’re a farmer or handyman, and have the budget, then you might as well make your workhorse as comfortable as possible.