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MERCEDES X-CLASS PROGRESSIVE X350d VS VW AMAROK 580

WORDS BY MARK KENDRICK AND JOSH NEEDS

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VEHICLES

The release of the Mercedes X-Class 350d left us in the Unsealed 4X4 office keen to put it to the test, and what better way to test it out then putting it against the also recently released 580 Amarok. So we took them both to the north coast of NSW to see which is a better package to build your touring vehicle off. To try and make a largely subjective test fair, we put them head to head in seven categories that we believe are important to consider when purchasing a 4WD dual cab: style and interior, safety, suspension, drivetrain and handling, off-road performance, power, practicality and value for money.

AMAROK LEFT Electric seats, a luxury you’d expect on a $70,000+ vehicle // X-CLASS RIGHT Unfortunately the X-Class doesn’t get that luxury

AMAROK
X-class

AMAROK: 2/2  ||  X-CLASS: 1/2

AMAROK
X-class

STYLE AND INTERIOR
The VW Amarok has been a familiar sight since 2011 with the 580 Ultimate the newest incarnation of the impressive ute. With the interior of the vehicle living up to its ‘Ultimate’ nametag, clad with soft textiles and Nappa leather trimmings, it provides the driver a luxury experience. It has both Apple CarPlay and Android Auto provided on a cleanly positioned screen, and two 12V sockets on the transmission tunnel along with USB power. However, the Amarok is let down by the lack of push-button start, which can be found on vehicles a third of the price.

The X-Class is less of a familiar sight on our roads. Bold frontal styling with chrome accents and a huge Mercedes-Benz tristar emblazoning the grille set it apart. Having said that, the rest of the X-Class is typical dual-cab ute styling with the rear axle placement in a great location for load distribution. We were testing the ‘350d Progressive’ model of X-Class, which is the package with the V6 motor you want, but nothing extra on the inside. Despite being more expensive than the Amarok Ultimate, it shows more hard plastic, minimal leather trim and felt less welcoming and decadent for driver and passengers alike. We also found the X-Class’s infotainment screen placement confusing, as it seemed as though it was an afterthought thrown on top. The X-Class however did have power supply on the transmission tunnel and in the centre console unlike the Amarok, and with push-button start, beat the Amarok there as well.

Overall though, for style and interior the Amarok won our hearts.

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Round Driving Lights
LED Light Bars

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SAFETY
When it comes to safety, the X-Class is the benchmark. 5-star ANCAP rating with front and rear airbags, lane departure warning and active lane-keeping assistance, low-speed collision mitigation, pedestrian avoidance, the list goes on. Unfortunately the Amarok only offers front seat airbags and even though back in 2011 it scored a 5-star ANCAP safety rating, the rigorous scoring today would mark it down.

Both vehicles have reversing cameras, and proximity sensors, but are bereft of other cameras despite the large bodies. More cameras should be expected, being at the top end of the market. The Amarok claws back some points thanks to its better visibility from the driver’s seat, with the X-Class’ rear opening window hurting visibility.

AMAROK: 6/7  ||  X-CLASS: 4/7

AMAROK
X-class

SUSPENSION, DRIVETRAIN AND HANDLING
Underneath the vehicles is where the biggest difference can be found. The Amarok rides on independent coil front suspension and a live axle with locking diff on leaf springs at rear. Constant 4WD comes from a Torsen centre diff giving 40:60 bias front to rear. The automatic gearbox is eight-speed, and that’s it, no low range. Disc brakes on all corners and unfortunately on-road biased 20-inch rims.

Just like its donor car, the Navara, the Mercedes rides on coils front and rear, with independent front and live axle with locking diff rear. The permanent 4X4 runs through a dual-range transfer case behind the seven-speed automatic gearbox. Again, disc brakes all around with not-as-silly 18-inch rims.

AMAROK: 6/10  ||  X-CLASS: 8/10

AMAROK
X-class
AMAROK
X-class

We drove both utes with an empty tub. The Amarok rode firmly verging towards harsh with more sensation transferred from corrugations and whoops than desirable. Traditionally, the Amarok would offer a superior ride, but form has clearly outweighed function in this case with the fitting of oversized rims. We would prefer to see oversized rubber than oversized rims on a 4X4, as it’s near impossible to have a plush ride with big lumps of alloy inside your tyre. The X-Class felt smoother, especially on the bigger bumps with less jolting, but could be described as jiggly on the corrugations.

Cornering in both was a confidence-inducing experience with the Mercedes and Volkswagen feeling planted for large 4X4 dual-cab utes.

When loaded up with nearly three-tonne caravans, each with tow ball weights around 280kg, both sat down slightly in the bum, the X-Class more so with clear compression in the coils. The X-Class has a higher permitted tow ball download of 350kg versus the Amarok’s 300kg, both with 3500kg maximum tow ratings.

Suspension, drivetrain and handling were a closely fought affair, with Mark favouring the coil-sprung X-Class and Josh leaning towards the traditional leaf-sprung rear of the Amarok.

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OFF-ROAD PERFORMANCE
For our test we took the two Germans onto the beach, via some axle-twisting access tracks and thoroughly churned dry sand and along some mild forestry trails. With overnight rain we had a chance to try some shallow mud puddles too. Both utes use 255mm width tyres, with the Amarok on 50 profile Bridgestone Dueler H/P tyres on 20-inch rims and the X-Class on 55 profile Continental Premium Contact 6 tyres on 18-inch rims. Rolling diameter is near identical. We aired both utes down to 18psi – much lower and the Amarok’s large rims would have been at risk of damage.

Both vehicles handled the downhill twister to the beach with aplomb. The traction control was seamless when responding to wheel lift and the hill descent software was convenient.

Once on the beach the two dual cabs were put through their paces. While both vehicles had plenty of power supplied from their V6 power plants, the extra torque from the Amarok required a more gentle approach than the X-Class. Furthermore, the slightly lower ground clearance on the Amarok was made apparent with occasional sand plowing occurring. The X-Class’s more linear power application made it friendlier to drive on the sand and its slight extra underbody clearance than the Amarok helped it as well.

AMAROK: 3/6  ||  X-CLASS: 5/6

However, both vehicles had issues due to our trip. The Amarok had a transmission temperature warning come on as we waited to exit the beach; this was quickly fixed by letting the Amarok sit in neutral for a few minutes to cool. The X-Class unfortunately had a slightly larger problem, which we only discovered once we got back to the office. It had a power steering fluid leak that is believed to have occurred at some point on our trip but was only made known once parked on solid road.

A few more observations: the alternators on both are set low in the engine bay, the Merc’s being slightly higher. Both have air intakes at a mediocre height – the Amarok breathes from behind a headlight, the X-Class from just under the bonnet’s front lip, very slightly higher than the VW.

Off-road performance was another close category, but as purely stock vehicles out of the factory with no modifications, the X-Class had the slight advantage.

UNDERBODY CLEARANCE

AMAROK
X-class
AMAROK
X-class
AMAROK
X-class
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POWER TRIPPING
It’s the engines that most set these dual-cab utes apart from the rest, being V6 diesels. With power and torque figures that leave the Toyota 70 Series V8 diesels behind, there’s some serious guts in these two dual-cab utes.

On paper, the difference isn’t significant. Both claim 190kW of power, the X-Class at a busy 3400rpm and the Amarok at 4500rpm. The Amarok, when Overboost kicks in, gleans an extra 10kW for a 200kW peak, which comes in when the throttle is at least 70 percent extended, at speeds above 50km/h and in fourth or fifth gear. As for torque, 550Nm between 1400 and 3200rpm for the X-Class gives the Amarok the lead with 580Nm delivered between a slightly closer 1400 and 3000rpm. Looking at peak power-to-weight, at kerb weight the Amarok offers 84.67kW/tonne and the X class 87.72kW/tonne, but at GVM with the X Class’s nearly 200kg higher payload the VW makes 61.69kW/tonne versus the X-Class’s 58.46kW/tonne.

From the driver’s seat, the X-Class is sprightly, there’s plenty of power, and it is delivered smoothly, once the turbo kicks in. The turbo lag is fairly noticeable, however putting it in sport mode helps alleviate some of the pain. The Amarok is always in a hurry, the engine just wanting to spin up and get moving. The Amarok definitely leads with on-road engine performance, especially when loaded up.

The seat-of-the-pants dyno means a lot, but on race day that’s just not enough for these two powerhouses. We took them to CRD Tech in Blaxland, NSW, where Jeremy ran them on his dyno and obtained some empirical evidence for us.

The Amarok clearly trumps the X-Class in all peak figures. The X-Class develops power in a beautiful smooth curve, the sort that is familiar to naturally aspirated and single-stage turbocharged engines alike. The Amarok peaks twice (like a twin-turbo would, yet it isn’t!) and starts to lose oomph shortly after the absolute peak around 3750rpm. The X-Class just can’t hold a candle to the Amarok at the lower rev ranges tested. 52kW less than the Amarok at 3050rpm! Torque is likewise distinctly in the Amarok’s favour, with the X-Class only nudging ahead above 4700rpm, where the auto gearbox won’t allow much time to be spent.

Due to different towing distances involved we didn’t record fuel consumption. Do note though that the Amarok requires AdBlue, the X-Class doesn’t. Once you’ve lived with an AdBlue-equipped car it isn’t a problem, just another bottle to carry when travelling remote areas. Typically, towing uses more AdBlue than the fuel consumption increase would suggest.

The Amarok cleanly wins this one with the greater power made obvious thanks to the CRD Tech dyno.

KEY
X-CLASS 350d
Amarok 580
AMAROK
X-class
AMAROK
X-class

AMAROK: 4/5  ||  X-CLASS: 3/5

Got one like it? Insure it here

Fifty years ago, when the remote Australian outback was so treacherous and communication was scarce, a broken vehicle part could mean the difference between life and death. In many ways, little has changed.

Our founder and Managing Director, Frank Hutchinson, listened to his touring customers to learn from their experience and saw the need for innovative solutions in the design and manufacture of strong 4WD parts.

Looking back over fifty years of service from pioneer Bedfords
to today’s modern 4WD’s, thousands of lessons have culminated in over 40,000 unique Terrain Tamer parts and a network that now serves 80 countries all over the world.

Thank you for being part of the journey.

AMAROK: 8/10  ||  X-CLASS: 7/10

AMAROK
X-class

WORKHORSE PRACTICALITY
Modern dual-cab utes must carry a fair load be it tradie tools and materials or touring gear. The Amarok has a payload capacity of 836kg that in the dual-cab market isn’t appreciably special. The X-Class is rated for a payload of 1034kg, which is exceptional; an honest tonne isn’t to be sneezed at. The X-Class is both lighter when empty and heavier when at GVM.

The Amarok wins in load space, with around 20 percent more volume available inside the tub. The critical dimension between the wheel arches is 1222mm for the Amarok and 1215mm for the X-Class, each capable of fitting a pallet.

AMAROK
X-class

Load restraint in the Amarok is from four tie-down rings around the base of the tub perimeter. The X-Class has restraint tracks around the upper inside lip of the tub and across the back of the cabin, with removable sliding tie-down points.

Both tubs arrived with equally durable tray liners. Our X-Class had hydraulic struts fitted to assist in lowering and raising the tailgate, which was a nice touch, while the Amarok kept pace with gravity.

In the engine bay, there is scarce room for any accessory; a catch can would take premium real estate so there is no chance of an auxiliary battery fitting under either bonnet. There is also a 12V outlet in each tub that is switched with the ignition, not too useful for a fridge as-is.

When it comes to taking any dual-cab ute off-road, accessorising is a basic necessity. Body and belly protection, better tyres, storage or security in the tub… which is all available for the Amarok. Aftermarket manufacturers large and small have a full complement of upgrades and accessories for the Amarok off the shelf, which makes it easy to personalise and ‘rugged-ise’ your ute. However, the X-Class being new to the market doesn’t have as much in terms of available aftermarket items, with some items possibly transferring across from the Navara. Although over time there should be a growth in availability as aftermarket manufacturers get their head around the X-Class.

The practicality of these two utes was tightly contested with Mark and Josh ending up sitting on opposite sides of the fence.

AMAROK LEFT The Amarok’s four fixed tie-downs are relatively small // X-CLASS RIGHT The X-Class tie-down track and mount system is flexible and appears sturdy

AMAROK: 5/6  ||  X-CLASS: 3/6

AMAROK
X-class

PRICE AND VALUE FOR MONEY
The Volkswagen we tested is the top-of-the-range Amarok TDI580 Ultimate, which retails for $72,790 before on-road and dealer charges. The Mercedes-Benz X Class X350d Progressive is the second from the top in the X-Class range, with a price of $73,270 again before on-road and dealer charges. The top of the range X-Class, the Power, retails for a staggering $79,415 before extra charges.

The X-Class is more refined and car-like in ride quality thanks to the coils all-round and provides added peace of mind due to the safety aspects. Moreover, the Amarok feels more like a luxury sports car in a dual-cab’s body, with its instantaneous power and plusher interior.

The Amarok gets fixed-price servicing, and has a decent spare parts availability, whereas the X-Class doesn’t get fixed price servicing and has a question mark over its spare parts, with uniquely Mercedes equipment thought to be the struggle, with the crossover Nissan-derived parts believed to be fine. The X-Class has longer service intervals, 20,000km or one-year versus the Amarok’s 15,000km or one-year.

Finally, external fit and finish. The Argentinians have a good handle on panel gap minimisation, the Spaniards like a bit of room to move. For a car wearing an expensive three-pointed star, the X-Class build quality wasn’t up to VW standards.

In this category thanks to its higher level of equipment but for lower cost as well as lower ownership costs, the Amarok is given the nod.

AMAROK
X-class

CONCLUDING THOUGHTS
The Volkswagen Amarok 580 Ultimate and the Mercedes X-Class 350d Progressive are very similar in many ways. Both these vehicles are capable as stock-standard 4WDs; however, both would need to be built up to reliably function as proper off-road tourers.

Both stand out from the pack thanks to their V6 power plants and running gear, as well as their Himalayan high prices. The X-Class winning safety, and off-road performance narrowly, while the Amarok won style, value for money, and power/engine performance. The other categories, however, were extremely tight, and like any decision it fell to personal preference coming into it, pushing us to different sides of the fence.

With the competition between these two vehicles so close, the question needed to be asked which one would you prefer to live with everyday. Mark came away from the trip wanting the keys to X-Class if given the option, while Josh left the comparison enviously looking back at the Amarok. However, they both agreed that if any extended or serious 4X4ing were to be done in either vehicle, heavily modifying the vehicle would be at the top of the list.

AMAROK: 34/46  ||  X-CLASS: 31/46

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VEHICLES

MERCEDES X-CLASS PROGRESSIVE X350d VS VW AMAROK 580

WORDS BY MARK KENDRICK AND JOSH NEEDS

The release of the Mercedes X-Class 350d left us in the Unsealed 4X4 office keen to put it to the test, and what better way to test it out then putting it against the also recently released 580 Amarok. So we took them both to the north coast of NSW to see which is a better package to build your touring vehicle off. To try and make a largely subjective test fair, we put them head to head in seven categories that we believe are important to consider when purchasing a 4WD dual cab: style and interior, safety, suspension, drivetrain and handling, off-road performance, power, practicality and value for money.

AMAROK
X-class

STYLE AND INTERIOR
The VW Amarok has been a familiar sight since 2011 with the 580 Ultimate the newest incarnation of the impressive ute. With the interior of the vehicle living up to its ‘Ultimate’ nametag, clad with soft textiles and Nappa leather trimmings, it provides the driver a luxury experience. It has both Apple CarPlay and Android Auto provided on a cleanly positioned screen, and two 12V sockets on the transmission tunnel along with USB power. However, the Amarok is let down by the lack of push-button start, which can be found on vehicles a third of the price.

The X-Class is less of a familiar sight on our roads. Bold frontal styling with chrome accents and a huge Mercedes-Benz tristar emblazoning the grille set it apart. Having said that, the rest of the X-Class is typical dual-cab ute styling with the rear axle placement in a great location for load distribution. We were testing the ‘350d Progressive’ model of X-Class, which is the package with the V6 motor you want, but nothing extra on the inside. Despite being more expensive than the Amarok Ultimate, it shows more hard plastic, minimal leather trim and felt less welcoming and decadent for driver and passengers alike. We also found the X-Class’s infotainment screen placement confusing, as it seemed as though it was an afterthought thrown on top. The X-Class however did have power supply on the transmission tunnel and in the centre console unlike the Amarok, and with push-button start, beat the Amarok there as well.

Overall though, for style and interior the Amarok won our hearts.

AMAROK LEFT Electric seats, a luxury you’d expect on a $70,000+ vehicle // X-CLASS RIGHT Unfortunately the X-Class doesn’t get that luxury

AMAROK
X-class

AMAROK: 2/2  ||  X-CLASS: 1/2

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Round Driving Lights
LED Light Bars

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SAFETY
When it comes to safety, the X-Class is the benchmark. 5-star ANCAP rating with front and rear airbags, lane departure warning and active lane-keeping assistance, low-speed collision mitigation, pedestrian avoidance, the list goes on. Unfortunately the Amarok only offers front seat airbags and even though back in 2011 it scored a 5-star ANCAP safety rating, the rigorous scoring today would mark it down.

Both vehicles have reversing cameras, and proximity sensors, but are bereft of other cameras despite the large bodies. More cameras should be expected, being at the top end of the market. The Amarok claws back some points thanks to its better visibility from the driver’s seat, with the X-Class’ rear opening window hurting visibility.

AMAROK
X-class

AMAROK: 6/10  ||  X-CLASS: 8/10

SUSPENSION, DRIVETRAIN AND HANDLING
Underneath the vehicles is where the biggest difference can be found. The Amarok rides on independent coil front suspension and a live axle with locking diff on leaf springs at rear. Constant 4WD comes from a Torsen centre diff giving 40:60 bias front to rear. The automatic gearbox is eight-speed, and that’s it, no low range. Disc brakes on all corners and unfortunately on-road biased 20-inch rims.

Just like its donor car, the Navara, the Mercedes rides on coils front and rear, with independent front and live axle with locking diff rear. The permanent 4X4 runs through a dual-range transfer case behind the seven-speed automatic gearbox. Again, disc brakes all around with not-as-silly 18-inch rims.

We drove both utes with an empty tub. The Amarok rode firmly verging towards harsh with more sensation transferred from corrugations and whoops than desirable. Traditionally, the Amarok would offer a superior ride, but form has clearly outweighed function in this case with the fitting of oversized rims. We would prefer to see oversized rubber than oversized rims on a 4X4, as it’s near impossible to have a plush ride with big lumps of alloy inside your tyre. The X-Class felt smoother, especially on the bigger bumps with less jolting, but could be described as jiggly on the corrugations.

Cornering in both was a confidence-inducing experience with the Mercedes and Volkswagen feeling planted for large 4X4 dual-cab utes.

AMAROK
X-class

When loaded up with nearly three-tonne caravans, each with tow ball weights around 280kg, both sat down slightly in the bum, the X-Class more so with clear compression in the coils. The X-Class has a higher permitted tow ball download of 350kg versus the Amarok’s 300kg, both with 3500kg maximum tow ratings.

Suspension, drivetrain and handling were a closely fought affair, with Mark favouring the coil-sprung X-Class and Josh leaning towards the traditional leaf-sprung rear of the Amarok.

AMAROK
X-class

AMAROK: 6/7  ||  X-CLASS: 4/7

Got one like it? Insure it here

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OFF-ROAD PERFORMANCE
For our test we took the two Germans onto the beach, via some axle-twisting access tracks and thoroughly churned dry sand and along some mild forestry trails. With overnight rain we had a chance to try some shallow mud puddles too. Both utes use 255mm width tyres, with the Amarok on 50 profile Bridgestone Dueler H/P tyres on 20-inch rims and the X-Class on 55 profile Continental Premium Contact 6 tyres on 18-inch rims. Rolling diameter is near identical. We aired both utes down to 18psi – much lower and the Amarok’s large rims would have been at risk of damage.

Both vehicles handled the downhill twister to the beach with aplomb. The traction control was seamless when responding to wheel lift and the hill descent software was convenient.

Once on the beach the two dual cabs were put through their paces. While both vehicles had plenty of power supplied from their V6 power plants, the extra torque from the Amarok required a more gentle approach than the X-Class. Furthermore, the slightly lower ground clearance on the Amarok was made apparent with occasional sand plowing occurring. The X-Class’s more linear power application made it friendlier to drive on the sand and its slight extra underbody clearance than the Amarok helped it as well.

AMAROK
X-class

However, both vehicles had issues due to our trip. The Amarok had a transmission temperature warning come on as we waited to exit the beach; this was quickly fixed by letting the Amarok sit in neutral for a few minutes to cool. The X-Class unfortunately had a slightly larger problem, which we only discovered once we got back to the office. It had a power steering fluid leak that is believed to have occurred at some point on our trip but was only made known once parked on solid road.

A few more observations: the alternators on both are set low in the engine bay, the Merc’s being slightly higher. Both have air intakes at a mediocre height – the Amarok breathes from behind a headlight, the X-Class from just under the bonnet’s front lip, very slightly higher than the VW.

Off-road performance was another close category, but as purely stock vehicles out of the factory with no modifications, the X-Class had the slight advantage.

AMAROK
X-class
AMAROK
X-class

AMAROK: 3/6  ||  X-CLASS: 5/6

UNDERBODY CLEARANCE

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POWER TRIPPING
It’s the engines that most set these dual-cab utes apart from the rest, being V6 diesels. With power and torque figures that leave the Toyota 70 Series V8 diesels behind, there’s some serious guts in these two dual-cab utes.

On paper, the difference isn’t significant. Both claim 190kW of power, the X-Class at a busy 3400rpm and the Amarok at 4500rpm. The Amarok, when Overboost kicks in, gleans an extra 10kW for a 200kW peak, which comes in when the throttle is at least 70 percent extended, at speeds above 50km/h and in fourth or fifth gear. As for torque, 550Nm between 1400 and 3200rpm for the X-Class gives the Amarok the lead with 580Nm delivered between a slightly closer 1400 and 3000rpm. Looking at peak power-to-weight, at kerb weight the Amarok offers 84.67kW/tonne and the X class 87.72kW/tonne, but at GVM with the X Class’s nearly 200kg higher payload the VW makes 61.69kW/tonne versus the X-Class’s 58.46kW/tonne.

AMAROK
X-class

From the driver’s seat, the X-Class is sprightly, there’s plenty of power, and it is delivered smoothly, once the turbo kicks in. The turbo lag is fairly noticeable, however putting it in sport mode helps alleviate some of the pain. The Amarok is always in a hurry, the engine just wanting to spin up and get moving. The Amarok definitely leads with on-road engine performance, especially when loaded up.

The seat-of-the-pants dyno means a lot, but on race day that’s just not enough for these two powerhouses. We took them to CRD Tech in Blaxland, NSW, where Jeremy ran them on his dyno and obtained some empirical evidence for us.

KEY
X-CLASS 350d
Amarok 580

The Amarok clearly trumps the X-Class in all peak figures. The X-Class develops power in a beautiful smooth curve, the sort that is familiar to naturally aspirated and single-stage turbocharged engines alike. The Amarok peaks twice (like a twin-turbo would, yet it isn’t!) and starts to lose oomph shortly after the absolute peak around 3750rpm. The X-Class just can’t hold a candle to the Amarok at the lower rev ranges tested. 52kW less than the Amarok at 3050rpm! Torque is likewise distinctly in the Amarok’s favour, with the X-Class only nudging ahead above 4700rpm, where the auto gearbox won’t allow much time to be spent.

Due to different towing distances involved we didn’t record fuel consumption. Do note though that the Amarok requires AdBlue, the X-Class doesn’t. Once you’ve lived with an AdBlue-equipped car it isn’t a problem, just another bottle to carry when travelling remote areas. Typically, towing uses more AdBlue than the fuel consumption increase would suggest.

The Amarok cleanly wins this one with the greater power made obvious thanks to the CRD Tech dyno.

AMAROK
X-class

AMAROK: 4/5  ||  X-CLASS: 3/5

Got one like it? Insure it here

Looking back over fifty years of service from pioneer Bedfords to today’s modern 4WD’s, thousands of lessons have culminated in over 40,000 unique Terrain Tamer parts and a network that now serves 80 countries all over the world.

Thank you for being part of the journey.

SCROLL TO CONTINUE WITH CONTENT

ADVERTISEMENT

WORKHORSE PRACTICALITY
Modern dual-cab utes must carry a fair load be it tradie tools and materials or touring gear. The Amarok has a payload capacity of 836kg that in the dual-cab market isn’t appreciably special. The X-Class is rated for a payload of 1034kg, which is exceptional; an honest tonne isn’t to be sneezed at. The X-Class is both lighter when empty and heavier when at GVM.

The Amarok wins in load space, with around 20 percent more volume available inside the tub. The critical dimension between the wheel arches is 1222mm for the Amarok and 1215mm for the X-Class, each capable of fitting a pallet.

AMAROK
X-class

Load restraint in the Amarok is from four tie-down rings around the base of the tub perimeter. The X-Class has restraint tracks around the upper inside lip of the tub and across the back of the cabin, with removable sliding tie-down points.

Both tubs arrived with equally durable tray liners. Our X-Class had hydraulic struts fitted to assist in lowering and raising the tailgate, which was a nice touch, while the Amarok kept pace with gravity.

In the engine bay, there is scarce room for any accessory; a catch can would take premium real estate so there is no chance of an auxiliary battery fitting under either bonnet. There is also a 12V outlet in each tub that is switched with the ignition, not too useful for a fridge as-is.

When it comes to taking any dual-cab ute off-road, accessorising is a basic necessity. Body and belly protection, better tyres, storage or security in the tub… which is all available for the Amarok. Aftermarket manufacturers large and small have a full complement of upgrades and accessories for the Amarok off the shelf, which makes it easy to personalise and ‘rugged-ise’ your ute. However, the X-Class being new to the market doesn’t have as much in terms of available aftermarket items, with some items possibly transferring across from the Navara. Although over time there should be a growth in availability as aftermarket manufacturers get their head around the X-Class.

The practicality of these two utes was tightly contested with Mark and Josh ending up sitting on opposite sides of the fence.

AMAROK: 8/10  ||  X-CLASS: 7/10

AMAROK
X-class

AMAROK LEFT The Amarok’s four fixed tie-downs are relatively small // X-CLASS RIGHT The X-Class tie-down track and mount system is flexible and appears sturdy

Got one like it? Insure it here

PRICE AND VALUE FOR MONEY
The Volkswagen we tested is the top-of-the-range Amarok TDI580 Ultimate, which retails for $72,790 before on-road and dealer charges. The Mercedes-Benz X Class X350d Progressive is the second from the top in the X-Class range, with a price of $73,270 again before on-road and dealer charges. The top of the range X-Class, the Power, retails for a staggering $79,415 before extra charges.

The X-Class is more refined and car-like in ride quality thanks to the coils all-round and provides added peace of mind due to the safety aspects. Moreover, the Amarok feels more like a luxury sports car in a dual-cab’s body, with its instantaneous power and plusher interior.

AMAROK
X-class

The Amarok gets fixed-price servicing, and has a decent spare parts availability, whereas the X-Class doesn’t get fixed price servicing and has a question mark over its spare parts, with uniquely Mercedes equipment thought to be the struggle, with the crossover Nissan-derived parts believed to be fine. The X-Class has longer service intervals, 20,000km or one-year versus the Amarok’s 15,000km or one-year.

Finally, external fit and finish. The Argentinians have a good handle on panel gap minimisation, the Spaniards like a bit of room to move. For a car wearing an expensive three-pointed star, the X-Class build quality wasn’t up to VW standards.

In this category thanks to its higher level of equipment but for lower cost as well as lower ownership costs, the Amarok is given the nod.

AMAROK: 5/6  ||  X-CLASS: 3/6

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CONCLUDING THOUGHTS
The Volkswagen Amarok 580 Ultimate and the Mercedes X-Class 350d Progressive are very similar in many ways. Both these vehicles are capable as stock-standard 4WDs; however, both would need to be built up to reliably function as proper off-road tourers.

Both stand out from the pack thanks to their V6 power plants and running gear, as well as their Himalayan high prices. The X-Class winning safety, and off-road performance narrowly, while the Amarok won style, value for money, and power/engine performance. The other categories, however, were extremely tight, and like any decision it fell to personal preference coming into it, pushing us to different sides of the fence.

With the competition between these two vehicles so close, the question needed to be asked which one would you prefer to live with everyday. Mark came away from the trip wanting the keys to X-Class if given the option, while Josh left the comparison enviously looking back at the Amarok. However, they both agreed that if any extended or serious 4X4ing were to be done in either vehicle, heavily modifying the vehicle would be at the top of the list.

AMAROK
X-class

AMAROK: 34/46  ||  X-CLASS: 31/46

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