Will the Mercedes-Benz pick-up make you more of a man
If childhood memories are to be trusted, it used to seem that a man’s free time was entirely spent performing “tasks” around the home.
Even bookish accountant types were capable of building an extension from scratch on a Saturday morning, before replumbing the bath and then having a bonfire. No wonder they all drove estates, carried a haunted look and demanded possession of their own chair in the living room.
For our generation, of course, weekends are now spent making shakshuka, queueing at Spinney's, doing a HIIT class, catching up on emails, driving to soft play, playing Fifa and deciding whether or not to post a picture of a tree on Instagram.
It’s no surprise that we are supposed to have lost the ability to do tasks. There’s hardly any time. The most “handy” we get is watering the herbs, rebooting the Wi-Fi when it freezes and occasionally buying an HDMI cable on Souq.com.
There comes a point, though, when the urge to reclaim the skills of your father reaches critical mass. When you tire of being ineffectual and want to draw a clear line in the sand. If indeed you owned the tools to draw such a line. Or knew where to buy a bag of sand.
I thought of all this when I took possession of the new Mercedes-Benz X-Class. Here is a car that could carry that sand in bagfuls. Billed as a premium pick-up, it’s a machine that does not like messing about and expects the same commitment from you. In black with a chrome grille and sculpted bonnet, it waited patiently on the street to be put to use. Handsome, robust, purposeful.
I waited too, possibly slightly intimidated and worrying about imposter syndrome. But seeing it parked outside began to elicit strange urges to get all my windows replaced, start a weekend food truck or head off into the wilderness for some al fresco camping.
The X-Class is also the only pick-up around that hits the “luxury” mark. On the face of it, a luxurious take on a car designed to be strong and practical might seem a clash but once you climb into the cabin it makes sense. Leather and chrome frame the well-designed dash, which features all the tech you’d expect from a high-specced SUV. It
’s roomy, too, front and back, with an all-round chunkiness you want and expect on a car like this. To the rear is its chief asset, a massive load bay, almost 1.6m long and 1.6m wide. Brilliant for carrying a tonne of stuff (in this case literally true). Not as great for parallel parking at the Dubai Mall, admittedly.
Thanks to a range-topping engine in the new V6 X350d, this beast can move — hitting 100kph in just 7.9 seconds. Given its size, the throttle is immediate and handling surprisingly agile, making for fast and fun progress around town. The permanent four-wheel drive system takes a lot of credit, too; handling most surfaces and weather systems you can throw at it.
Comfort, Eco and Sport modes can be selected depending on how much you are enjoying cruising past those annoyances you used to know as “cars”. The obvious question is how much do you need a pick-up? The X-Class is predominantly pitched at the small-business and artisan market, but the private pick-up market is growing globally, especially at the top end.
Spend a week with one and you start to realise this could actually be the much cooler alternative to a family estate or SUV. Everyone’s got an SUV, after all, and the estate car, despite a low-key renaissance of late, can still carry the mild aroma of a human male who has given in and given up.
The X-Class, on the other hand, has the sweet scent of getting shit done. Opening up the load bay in full view of your neighbours is quite a feeling. In just a few days I had been catapulted into the category of “handy” and didn’t even feel like a fraud.
If you’ve ever heard of the “act as if” technique in Neuro-Linguistic Programming you’ll understand the power in pretending you are competent at something you are not. Yes, it is basically lying to yourself but apparently, it can work.
As I parked my X-Class outside for the last time, my week of acting “as if” I deserved an X-Class was over, now it was up to me.
Like an automotive life coach, this pickup had at least sparked an idea of what I could one day become.