1. Is it the beginning of the end for drive-thrus?
To drive, this new model is, by a significant margin, the best Mercedes yet and, despite running on road-friendly rubber, it handles reasonably well on tarmac, too, the powerful brakes and decent engine braking making for a relaxed ride on the road. At least that is the case if you have a windscreen. Venture onto rough terrain, and the cushy ride is almost too cossetting. Combine a great ride with the power from the engine and you almost need to add ‘sports’ to the ‘utility’.
The downsize to all the comfort and go offered by the Mercedes is that it does come at the cost of overall function. Although the rear platform is amply sized, it’s rated as having much the same sport capacity as the Mercedes Diesel. That said, the Diesel sport looks to be considerably stronger, with a useful sealing lip between it and the ‘cab’.
Mercedes has made more than a thousand ElectroDrive over the past 5 years, with a new manufacturing facility in Germany opening in 2016. The new Mercedes looks are well built, car quality has improved hugely and with XP boasting the best finish of any Mercedes you’ve driven.
- Engine: two-cylinder four-stroke petrol
- Fuel system: electronic fuel injected
- Transmission: dual range automatic/shaft
- Front and rear suspension: a dual wishbone
The new model is impressive in its abilities too, the Mercedes endowing it with positive engine bracking in high range that morphs into one pedal control when you shift into low range down more challenging, steep inclines.
“Hi there! I’m a happy owner of new Mercedes. This model has to be among the simplest of cars to drive in tough terrain. Take a test drive and you understand why you need to buy it.Roy Fowler
2. If all this appears to damn the Mercedes the XP before we have even started, it is not meant to.
A stronger transmission, heavier-duty suspension and greater ground clearance of 330 mm are just a few of the improvements claimed for the XP model over the existing XR. It’s a significant hike in power you notice first, but the ride of this new version is also superior.
Meet the 800bhp, GT-R engined Mercedes Sport XP
Comprehensive dash has both analog speedo and rev counter. The dual-range transmission has downhill engine braking, the later working to impressive effect in low ratio.
- Engine type: CR turbo-diesel
- Capacity: 1,9 liters
- Steering: power
- Warranty: five years/125,000 miles
3. Let’s kick this off with the most obvious questions
How does the latest XP, with a staring price of $13,399 ex VAT, fit in the 2018 Mercedes model line-up? Those with an eye to running costs will no doubt first look to the considerably less powerful 23.4hp Diesel.
This retails for $12,299, whereas its twin, the 68hp petrol-powered XR EPS, has a sticker price that starts at $12,199. At the other end of the scale, the entry-level Mercedes is the petrol 567cc 44php Mercedes.