Mercedes X 350 d: long-term test review
Third report: we’re not always sitting comfortably in our Mercedes X 350 d pick-up truck
The Mercedes X-Class is highly capable and the perfect match for Kim’s racing and rallying hobbies. It never seems troubled and the extra power of this V6 version just makes everything even easier. It certainly raises the bar for premium pick-ups, but also the cost – which can’t be ignored.
Mileage: 4,492Economy: 21.6mpg
One of the downsides of taking your car to a workshop, apart from the cost, is that the driver’s seat gets moved. Quite understandable, because we’re all different shapes and I’m sure there are shorter staff who couldn’t move the X-Class with the seat in the right place for my six foot three inch frame. The mystery is why it takes me days to find the right combination of adjustments that felt just right before.
It’s irritating, and now I inflict it on myself on a regular basis in the X 350 d. There’s nothing wrong with the electrically adjustable seat but, just this once, I’d prefer a manual version. Why? Because there’s something about the way I get out of the truck that triggers the recline switch. I don’t feel the switch and only realise something’s moved when I get in and end up virtually lying on my back.
It never happened in our old X 250 d, so it must be to do with the lack of running boards (which are not fitted to the X 350 d) or perhaps it’s the slightly raised ride height on this model.
This niggle has not put me off driving the big Merc, but car parks remain a challenge – as a recent trip to the one used by Auto Express when attending the Product Awards evening proved. Although I got most of the X-Class in a bay, leaving the cab wasn’t easy.
Since a recent Isle of Man trip it has also been to the south coast, returning bicycles to relatives. I know my car cleaning kit but I’ve never seen any for removing bits of crab that I found on the roller shutter one morning.
That load bed may be large but carrying cycles again proved a pain. Roof bars across the bed with a bike carrier would be better because I had to use lots of cloths to prevent damage. A hard-top would also have helped, given the bikes weren’t secure when parked.
Mercedes X 350 d: second report
Big V6 under the bonnet puts the posh Mercedes X 350 d pick-up ahead of its rivals
Mileage: 2,824Economy: 23.4mpg
Not once did I feel that the 187bhp Mercedes X 250 d pick-up I ran for four months was underpowered. But I have to confess that I’m loving its more powerful bigger brother, and that’s mainly down to the truck’s turbocharged V6 engine.
A vehicle’s life with me consists of days without moving interspersed with long trips, often with one of my track cars on a trailer behind and a pick-up bed full with wheels, tyres and tools. The X 350 d’s time since January has been no different, with trips to Spa-Francorchamps in Belgium and 450 miles over a weekend taking in a sprint and a hillclimb among other lengthy journeys.
And that gruff-yet-pleasant 254bhp V6 has taken the strain out of keeping up with traffic on hilly B-roads, accelerating up slip roads and cruising along at the legal limit. The gearbox is smooth and I’ve not needed to trouble the various driving modes – apart from some initial exploration – and am staying mostly in the default setting.
The ride isn’t quite as compliant as the X 250 d’s, but it is still pretty good and a step above rival pick-ups’ and furthest from its commercial roots. That may be down to the increased ground clearance this model has, or Mercedes ensuring its payload exceeds a tonne, the key figure for gaining commercial status and the tax breaks this brings. The suspension also keeps the trailer very stable, to the point where you need to consciously remember it’s there because you feel it so little behind the wheel.
Left to purr through the gears, the seven-speed box is fine, but hurry it along and it’s less happy, particularly if you want to make a quick getaway. There’s a noticeable lag that’s irritating and if you use more throttle it needs to be lifted off quickly when the transmission finally catches up.
The cabin is a pretty relaxing place to be, too. Cruise control takes the effort out of maintaining your speed and keeping your licence safe, while the heated seats are supportive and comfortable over long periods. There are also a few neat touches, such as the light over the pick-up bed that helps loading at night, although it could be brighter. I’m getting my head around the infotainment and the big, tablet-style screen is welcome – although the lack of Apple CarPlay and Android Auto is disappointing.
Its keyless entry and go feature is a step up from the X 250 d, but you have to pause after hitting the door button for the lock to release – pull the handle too quickly and it remains locked. I’ve also noticed the Mercedes’ stop/start only works when the brake pedal is pressed quite hard.
Using just enough pressure to prevent the truck from creeping forward isn’t enough for the system to kick in. Despite the truck having this feature, I’ve paid for all that effortless performance at the diesel pumps, because the truck is currently returning 23.4mpg – no doubt due to all the towing – although we did manage as much as 27.2mpg on our road test route recently.
Despite this, I’m really enjoying running the X 350 d, but the elephant in the room is the cost, which is more than £58,000 with the options on our car. And it’s hard to see where you could trim those back.
Maybe you could skip the £630 metallic paint, but it does distance the X-Class from other pick-ups on a building site. It’s the same with the COMAND Online infotainment, although it is a pricey £2,748. The £1,218 Style pack brings the 19-inch alloys (ours has the £600 extra AMG-look versions), LED headlights (which work well) and the sliding rear window. The 360-degree camera in the parking package is essential in such a large vehicle with a pretty big turning circle. I often switch it on when I need to see exactly where the front of the truck is.
The roller shutter cover – identical to one I had on a Mitsubishi L200 – costs £1,477 (excluding fitting), despite my previous car’s one costing hundreds less. It is essential if you are going to keep anything in the pick-up’s bed, but it is not the easiest to use.
Although there’s no doubt the X-Class is a great place to notch up the miles, you have to pay for that performance. Still, if you want a pick-up truck as a family car, few models are able to do it as well as the X 350 d.
Mercedes X 350 d: first report
We swap to Mercedes X 350 d version of the X-Class to see what the V6 diesel version of the posh pick-up is like to live with
Mileage: 2,265Economy: 27.2mpg
Our Mercedes X-Class has been brilliant so far. It brings a new level of comfort to proven pick-up practicality, and its departure would normally mean a sense of loss. But while our four-cylinder X 250 d is now gone, I’m going to be running the V6-powered X 350 d instead.
Right to the end, the X 250 d continued to impress, particularly with its compliant ride and effortless towing. I don’t suppose the big pick-up was too popular with my neighbours, although some were happy to take advantage of its large load bay. The last trip to the dump was to ditch a huge metal office cupboard – much easier to transport in a tough plastic-lined load bay than in an easily scuffed SUV interior.
We’ve only notched up a few hundred miles in its replacement, which was handed over by sales exec Craig Guzzardi at the Orwell Van Centre, near Ipswich, Suffolk, but initial impressions are that the X 350 d is another step up in refinement.
The big story is that the Nissan-derived four-cylinder diesel has made way for the 254bhp V6 turbo that used to feature in Mercedes’ car range. Also new is the 7G-Tronic Plus transmission, which uses permanent four-wheel drive rather than a selectable set-up.
The box is a bit slow off the mark, but changes smoothly, and although the engine is quieter at speed than the X 250 d’s, it’s gruffer under load. We’ve also gone up a step in trim, because Power spec is now only available in the V6. The leather trim is a welcome improvement and we like the bigger 8.4-inch screen of the COMAND Online infotainment, too.
Of course, there has been a shift up in price as well, with our X 350 d costing a hefty £47,412. We’ll find out if it can justify that price tag over the next few months, and also see how the V6 compares in daily use.