Boot-sucking mud and torrential rain are all part of the fun for Britain’s hard-core army of festivalgoers – fortunately for them, the challenging conditions at some of this summer’s biggest outdoor events weren’t about to stop a Mercedes X-Class in its tracks either!
Co-op supermarket chiefs drafted in the V6-engined pickup to support the building, operation and dismantling of their temporary stores at festivals nationwide. Up to 7,500 sq ft in size, and fitted out with shelving, fridges, freezers, checkouts and even warehousing, these activations kept revellers well stocked with everything they could possibly need, including food and water, beer, wine, toiletries and medicines. Co-op even established fully-functioning ‘villages’ for up to 90 of its staff to live in while operating its supermarkets 24 hours a day.
Supplied by north-west Dealer Ciceley Commercials, the range-topping X 350 d 4MATIC demonstrator was at the biggest gathering of them all, June’s Glastonbury Festival, where it turned in a three-pointed star performance to rival those of the headline acts.
The mighty Mercedes-Benz was also in the thick of the action at Castle Donington for Download 2019, Latitude in Southwold, Suffolk, and the Belladrum Tartan Heart Festival near Inverness, then flitted between Creamfields in Liverpool, and festivals at Leeds and Reading, which all took place over the August Bank Holiday Weekend.
Co-op Head of Partnerships & Events Alasdair Fowle explained: “The X-Class was allocated to our activation team, whose role entails building the store and village, facilitating trade for the festival community throughout the event, and then derigging everything once it’s drawn to a close.
“As you can imagine, this entails a lot of administration, and movement of staff and equipment. We needed a vehicle that not only offered a high payload capacity, but, of course, could also be used off-road in extreme conditions.
“Creamfields was very wet this year and at Download a month’s-worth rain fell in a single day. This meant the entire site became very difficult to drive through, yet Ciceley’s vehicle took the worst of the ground in its stride and didn’t get stuck once.”
The first premium brand pickup, the imposingly styled four-door, five-seat X-Class combines the traditional pickup attributes of robustness, functionality, strength and off-road performance, with the classical design, comfort, driving dynamics and safety characteristics of a true Mercedes-Benz.
“The X 350 d attracted a lot of interest among festivalgoers at every event we attended,” recalled Mr Fowle. “It’s a definite head-turner but our team were every bit as impressed with its capabilities as they were with its appearance.
“The 1.0-tonne payload capacity is great, and we managed to fit in the X-Class all of the equipment we needed to support our activations. The cab, meanwhile, is roomy enough to accommodate five adults with ease, and the seats are comfortable and supportive, with the added bonus of being heated.
“All this, plus cruise control, meant that on the long journeys between festival sites the vehicle offered a smooth, relaxing and enjoyable environment, while the engine delivered plenty of ‘grunt’ when needed on hilly country roads.
“The KEYLESS GO entry and engine start system was also a ‘plus’, as it relieved the driver of the inconvenience of having to keep digging out the key from a pocket.”
The X 350 d’s 3.0-litre turbodiesel delivers muscular 258 hp power, and 555 Nm of torque over a wide engine speed range of 1,400-3,200 rpm. Its 7G-TRONIC PLUS 7-speed automatic transmission features steering wheel-mounted shift paddles and an ECO start/stop function.
Unlike its four-cylinder stablemates, for which all-wheel drive is engageable, the six-cylinder variant employs a permanent system with low-range and drive selection mode. Wide track, spring and damping system tuned for comfort, and internally vented disc brakes front and rear, combine to deliver supreme handling, both on and off road.
Mr Fowle added: “The X-Class proved to be an essential tool for the activation support team over the course of our busiest summer yet. It’s a supremely practical vehicle, but at the same time a real pleasure to drive.”
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Wednesday 18th September 2019