The much judged Mercedes bakkie unveils itself in South Africa. Fitting for our bakkie loving nation.
Based on a Nissan Navara base, the new Mercedes-Benz X-Class will hope to make in roads into a segment that before last October we didn't even know it was interested in. Yes, the Mercedes bakkie has finally arrived and it was perhaps fitting that Mercedes chose Cape Town, South Africa, to debut it: South Africa, after all, will probably be the country that welcomes it most warmly as we are always eager for more expensive and luxurious ways to enjoy our khaki bush.
Its official arrival in 2018 will bring with it a 2,3 liter turbo diesel - six speed - and a larger, seven speed biturbo X250d automatic. But, it's the X350d 6 cylinder that will be most appealing and will produce 550 N.m of diesel loving torque. Think Navara with a Mercedes badge. Appropriate yes, because it's the badge that will be most important and quite simply the reason you will buy it or not. We cannot think why you wouldn't though: Gusheshe is, after all, a huge fan of the new Navara - neatly poised on its supple and innovative platform - and that, with the appeal of a Mercedes badge, should bring with it some relatively stern appeal.
We shouldn't be fooled into thinking that Mercedes cannot offer ruggedness. The G-Class Mercedes looks best dirty; on the commercial front, the likes of the Sprinter has been a work horse for nearly 20 years in South Africa and Mercedes are also well known for being mega-truck manufacturers, so in light of this, perhaps it's rather surprising that Mercedes have taken this long to enter such a South African loving segment.
The X-Class looks good too - beefy, besides the weedy back lights, but we suppose that there are only so many designs that the back end of any double cab can manufacture: Its profile resembles the Amarok, which is fitting because it's the Amarok that will suffer most with its arrival. It is unlikely to steal sells from Ranger and Hilux, but buyers of the Amarok (especially if the X-Class is released similarly priced, which it should be) will now have the option of a proper alternative in the high-end luxury bakkie market. Amarok has certainly not overwhelmed that buying market but a Mercedes badge might just be the key.
Of all the excitement though, it's the interior that we love most. Its simplicity - of a Mercedes nature - resonates a ruggedness that we know bakkie buyers enjoy. It looks appropriately empty and we like it like that, poised for a much-loved bush adventure. So yes, we welcome the X-Class into a country with established and lovable double cab bakkies. And as always, we welcome the braai talk that comes with it: Mercedes now doesn't only offer old man, tar-loving luxury. Now, it also offers old farmer, sand-road loving luxury too.