WE waited a long time for it to happen, but the impressive Mercedes-Benz X-Class pick-up has exceeded expectations beyond doubt.
The premium pick-up market had previously been dominated by the likes of the VW Amarok and the Ford Ranger, but the emergence of the Mercedes offering has moved the goalposts.
The X-Class follows the now familiar double cab trend but in addition to its monumental and unmistakable Merc front end, its cabin puts some luxury saloons to shame.
Any lingering doubts that this is a tarted-up work utility is swept away by some very tasteful touches and a quality of workmanship that cannot be faulted.
If you thought that the general design of the vehicle bears a passing similarity to the Nissan Navara then you would not be far off the mark because X-Class is a result of a joint project with Renault-Nissan.
However, exterior body panels sharelittle commonality with the Navara and the two vehicles are totally different animals in character.
Under the bonnet is a Renault-built 2.3-litre four-cylinder turbo diesel engine with a choice of two outputs - the single-turbo 161bhp X220d and the twin-turbo 187bhp X250d.
The driven vehicle was a 250d Power model and features a seven-speed automatic transmission with selectable all-wheel drive.
The driving position is lofty and commanding and although the vehicle is large you always have the impression that you are in total control of all that is unfurling beyond the wide windscreen.
The X-Class can tow a 3.5-tonne trailer and transport a maximum load of 1,067kg in a load bed measuring 1,587mm by 1,560mm.
Trim levels are Pure, Progressive and Power. Power trim defines the X-Class as a true premium pickup, with electrically adjustable front seats, a leather upholstery, keyless entry, climate control, 18in alloy wheels, front and rear LED lights and electrically folding door mirrors.
Extra cost options on the test vehicle included a parking package with a 360-degree camera which I would wholeheartedly recommend and woodgrain interior trim.
There is a seven-inch infotainment screen that is standard on all models. Its central position imparts a very classy look to the interior of this pick-up.
Extra sound deadening is another aspect that sets the X-Class apart. I found it much more silent than the Navara and if you are paying so much for a pick-up this counts a lot.
Multilink coil spring suspension front and rear givesthe X-Class a far more comfortable ride compared with leaf-sprung rivals something that helps considerably with ride comfort over rough surfaces.