Cape Town - First launched in April this year, the Mercedes-Benz X-Class range has been given the flagship that it always needed, with the introduction of the X350d six-cylinder diesel version. 

This double cab can run from 0-100km/h in 7.9 seconds, according to claims, but lets face it, this vehicle is not built for speed, but more for effortless cruising and overall comfort. And if you like to venture off the beaten track, then you will appreciate its ground clearance of 220mm and its off-roading systems.  

I recently had the pleasure of giving the new vehicle some ‘stick’, both on tar roads as well as testing off-road conditions. I threw almost everything at the X-Class and it responded with aplomb. 

The new 3-litre turbodiesel engine develops 190kW and 550Nm, and is paired with a 7G-Tronic Plus automatic transmission and 4Matic permanent all-wheel drive.

Driving on tarred roads, one can hardly hear the engine, and the synchronisation between the transmission and the engine was one of ‘perfect harmony’. lt is, until the 190kW Amarok arrives, the most powerful double cab on the market and the most expensive in its class too.

The vehicle's handling, both on and off road, is very impressive thanks to its permanent all-wheel drive system. There is a choice of engine and transmission response levels at the driver’s fingertips, from comfortable to sporty, thanks to five driving modes - which is too many in my opinion. 

The driving characteristics can be changed by a quick fingertip scroll:

Comfort mode is activated automatically when the engine starts. It provides comfort, emphasising harmonious accelerator characteristics as well as early gear shift points.

The Eco mode shifts gears at lower engine speeds and should save you a few litres of gas, especially if you must drive the vehicle in mainly urban conditions.

The Sport mode literally speaks for itself. In this mode, acceleration is more responsive and gear changes take place higher in the rev range for a more exciting driving experience.

In the Manual mode, you choose the gear changes by use of paddle-shifts located on the steering wheel. I tried this a few times but have to say that ‘novelty’ wore out very quickly and I reverted to ‘auto’ mode.

A mode for off the road  

If you are a bundu-basher and love off-road experiences, then the Off-Road mode was made for you.

Here the gearbox and throttle characteristics are specifically designed for challenging terrain - in fact the vehicle literally takes over and all you have to do is guide and nudge the double-cab on very challenging terrain.

The excellent performance and traction on such a wide range of driving surfaces is all thanks to the 4Matic permanent all-wheel drive with low-range reduction gear and differential lock on the rear axle.

There are three all-wheel-drive modes to choose from: 4MAT for increased vehicle dynamics, 4H for improved traction off-road, and 4L for tough off-road terrain. 

With the all-wheel-drive system and the suspension with its long spring travel and ground clearance of 222 millimetres, the X-Class V6 effortlessly climbs gradients of up to 45 degrees, goes across water courses with a depth of up to 600 millimetres, and maintains its agility on inclines of almost 50 degrees. 

Before driving up the steep incline, I wondered if I would make it to the top as once you start on the incline, all you see is the bonnet at a 45-degree angle. This is where the belief of the off-road capabilities of the all new 4Matic low range gear and differential lock comes into being. A soft touch on the accelerator pedal and you are halfway up. Another nudge and you clear the gradient with the greatest of ease. Once you get back on level terrain, there is a huge sense of personal relief and accomplishment. 

Comprehensive safety kit

The X-Class V6 offers various comfort and safety features that takes the ‘worry’ away from the driver. 

Standard safety includes seven airbags and the i-Size attachment system for two child seats. Active Brake Assist, Traffic Sign Assist and Active Lane Keeping Assist are optional.

The X350 d is available in two equipment lines.

The Progressive line has 17-inch 6-spoke light-alloy wheels, air vents in electroplated silver chrome, leather-lined steering wheel and parking brake as standard. The infotainment system includes eight-speakers, enough to put you in that party mode when cranked up.

In the high-end Power version, standard features 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 Audio 20 infotainment system with a multifunctional touchpad.

So, what is all of this going to cost you? Lets’ not make any bones about it, this is the most expensive double-cab in its segment.

The Progressive will cost you R904 188 (Including Vat and CO2 tax), while the top of the range Power will set you back R973 188.