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Quick twin test: Mercedes X-Class vs Land Rover Discovery

Merc pickup takes on Land Rover's seminal SUV in a battle for the ages. Maybe

  1. How's the image?

    Mercedes X-Class: affluent builder. Of course Merc wants it to be more than that, to be a family lifestyle truck, and inside and out it’s done a good job of hiding the Nissan Navara that lurks underneath. But it’s still a pickup. Just with slick PR.

    Land Rover Discovery: country set. Yes, despite the slicker panelling of the new Disco, this is still the default choice for the Home Counties. Can be had as a pickup- rivalling commercial, but it’s just as pricey unless you’re VAT registered.

  2. What are the clanky bits like on the Benz?

    If you want clanky, you’ve come to the right place. X-Class uses the Navara’s 2.3-litre diesel and ladder-frame chassis. Coil-sprung and with switchable 4WD, it has a wider track and different springs/dampers, but still shudders over bumps, and, while good by pickup standards, is noisy and sluggish.

  3. And the Disco?

    The TD4 isn’t as refined, smooth and muscular as the TD6 (nor that much more economical – think 32mpg instead of 29). However, it has the rough-stuff ability of the X-Class, but presents it better. Refinement, gear-changing, ride comfort, response, etc are all better here. Arguably too precious to off-road.

  4. How practical is the X-Class?

    The X-Class is massive – the load bay is 1.5m long by 1.2m wide. But how will you use it? Shopping and school bags are going to get wet and slide about. There’s only five seats inside (and they’re not very comfy). Hose- down load bay well suited to mountain bikes and lifestyle toys, mind you.

  5. And what about the Discovery?

    Massive and filthy things are harder to carry in the Disco. But you can have a towbar for such eventualities. Inside, the seven seats fold, slide and so on, there’s cleverer storage, more features such as USB slots around the cabin and a far more upmarket ambience. But just look at the price… (£65,295 as tested, vs £41,140 as tested for the Merc)

  6. How do the costs stack up for the Mercedes?

    This will be cheaper to run. Not least because the Discovery’s monthly payments will be ruinous. It offers much more metal for your money, but watch the tax and fuel. It’s neither particularly clean nor efficient.

  7. And for the Land Rover?

    Prices of premium SUVs have shot up recently – blame their popularity. The most basic Disco is now £45k, and running costs will be equally steep with a year-one tax bill of £800. Then again, an X250d will cost £1,200.

    Verdict

    A thin veneer of Merc gloss doesn’t make the X-Class a luxe SUV alternative. 6/10

    The Disco proves SUVs are still a step or three ahead of pickups for family use. 8/10

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