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Mercedes refines the bakkie

Mercedes refines the bakkie

There’s plenty to differentiate Mercedes-Benz’s new X-Class bakkie from its peers – starting with its ability to deliver a sumptuously plush ride. Wynter Murdoch reports.

The rock-strewn track that winds its way over the Outeniqua Mountains towards George from the Louvain Guest Farm near Uniondale was built in around 1770, acting for 50 years as a primary trading gateway between the coast and the Klein Karoo.

Dubbed the Duiwel’s Kop Pass, the route was described in days of yore as being among the Cape’s most formidable and difficult trails. Characterised by steep ascents and descents, the narrow track could take days to traverse by ox wagon – and rocky outcrops still bear scars left by steel-shod wheels. 

In view of its daunting history, the pass was chosen recently by Mercedes-Benz Vans as a test bed for the South African launch of its much anticipated X-Class bakkie, the idea being to follow in the wheel tracks of yesterday’s pioneers to demonstrate the new vehicle’s off-road capabilities.

 

First thing to know is that the X-Class was never challenged seriously by any of the obstacles it encountered on the three-hour route, its high ground clearance, four-wheel drivetrain and low range gearbox – plus a selection of driver assistance aids such as hill descent control and hill start assist – helping it to pass every test with flying colours.