Even though Mercedes claims that the X-Class is suitable as both a rugged, off-road-capable pick-up and a vehicle for urban-based families, don’t be fooled into thinking that it’s any more car-like in the way it goes down the road than any of its immediate rivals.

The steering, for instance, has a noticeable amount of weight yet very little feel to it, and at 3.4 turns from lock to lock, it is particularly slow in its gearing. Any directional change therefore requires a fair amount of flailing at the wheel in order to provide the desired result.

Matt Saunders Autocar

Matt Saunders

Road test editor
Electronic stability control keeps a tight rein on proceedings and the X-Class doesn't feel the most agile pick-up, but it’s comparatively well balanced and composed

Although this is a fairly common trait among pick-ups, some of them, of course, feel more manoeuvrable than others. Comparatively, a Toyota Hilux feels far more responsive and direct in its steering than the Mercedes.

That’s not to suggest that the X-Class is totally unwieldy, though. It may not be particularly happy being shown a challenging stretch of road but, even under hard cornering, it never feels as though it will suddenly throw its toys out of the pram.

There is a considerable amount of lean, true, and the electronic stability control can cut in in a fairly severe manner, but there’s a good amount of frontend grip on offer here.

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The formidable Hill Route at Millbrook Proving Ground is to a 2.3-tonne pickup truck what the Dakar Rally is to a Formula 1 car. The X-Class nevertheless demonstrated praiseworthy poise and balance, given its nose-heavy weight distribution and inherent lack of torsional rigidity.

Body roll was also kept in check more readily than expected, although we could do without the kickback sent through the steering column when any challenging questions are asked of an already loaded-up front axle.

Driven with due deference to the laws of physics, this chassis gives little cause for reasonable criticism, although an impetuous ESP system that cannot be switched off suggests Mercedes has played it rather safe.

More promising is the ride, which – thanks to its more sophisticated suspension set up – doesn’t suffer from quite the same level of pogoing as some pick-up trucks experience when the load bed is empty. There is some detectable pitter-pattering at the rear when travelling over rougher surfaces, but this is far from unbearable and would be remedied by a full load bed.

Out on the motorway, the X-Class manages to hide its commercial vehicle underpinnings well. Aside from the aforementioned vocal diesel engine, it’s largely comfortable and compliant, although not quite to the same standard as you’d experience in a genuine SUV.

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