Pick-up shootout: X-Class, Amarok V6 and fight it out

Published: 16 August 2018

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Tax-friendly workhorse during the week, fun family wagon at the weekend. It's a lot to ask of a car, but this foursome adds up to a lot of car.

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What exactly am I gawping at here?

VW Amarok

The bulky pick-up with a name that means 'wolf' in Inuit. Came into the world in 2010 with a 2.0-litre four-cylinder diesel, but shifted to diesel V6s in 2017. This is a new-for-2018 Dark Label edition, with 201bhp – a new 255bhp version is on the way...

Ford Ranger

The UK's best-selling pick-up has been with us since 2011. A 2.2-litre four-cylinder with either 128bhp or 158bhp and a warbly 3.2-litre five (197bhp) are your diesel-only engine choices.

Fiat Fullback Cross

The Italian sibling to the Mitsubishi L200, as Fiat Professional does its best to flog a range of almost entirely badge-engineered commercial vehicles. Like the L200, the American football-named Fiat comes in trims aplenty, and uses a 2.4-litre diesel four with 148 or 178bhp. All are four-wheel-drive double cabs.

Fiat Fullback side pan

Mercedes X250d

The first proper pick-up from Mercedes. Digging deep into its partnership with Nissan, Merc has nicked the Navara's undercrackers and dialled the chintz up a few notches. Two four-cylinder diesels are available, with a V6 coming later in 2018.

Looks perfect for my #blessed #lifestyle...

VW Amarok

It'll certainly look menacing on Instagram. The Amarok is a sizeable beast, and this sleek gunmetal grey/matt black special edition accentuates its vastness. Shame Dark Label sounds like a reduced-to-clear aftershave.

Ford Ranger

Relatively low-key in this company, despite more chrome in its grille than Lil' Wayne. Limited spec, as seen here, piles on the chrome but range-topping Wildtrack is the one for today's flat white-sipping pseudo outdoorsman.

Ford Ranger side pan

Fiat Fullback Cross

Fullback Cross is aimed more at the kitesurfing/BMX-ing/extreme ironing folk than the tradesmen targeted by the L200, so it has thick body cladding, black alloys and swoopy rails. Looks dinky when parked next to the others.

Mercedes X250d

Of the four this is the one that attracts most interest from bystanders. 'Power' spec is as bling as you can go, with chrome on the bumpers, 18-inch wheels, LEDs all-round and not a single bit of black plastic in sight.

Anything tough under the skin?

VW Amarok

The V6 is twinned with VW's 4motion permanent four-wheel drive and eight forward gears. This one thinks it's clever enough to get away with just having an 'off road' button for particularly hairy mud-plugging, but a £300 diff-lock and additional underbody protection are optional.

Ford Ranger

An electronically selectable four-wheel-drive system is engaged via a switch; turn to 4L (low-range, four-wheel drive) for serious off-roading. Relies on tech like hill-descent control and hill-hold assist to fill in any remaining off-roading blanks. Off-Road Pack with underbody protection and locking rear diff a £300 option.

Fiat Fullback Cross

Five-speed auto, switchable all-wheel drive, with lockable centre differential and low-range options. Cross also has lockable rear diff as standard, plus hill-hold and trailer assist standard like its rivals. Beefier underpants a £170 option.

Mercedes X250d

Navara chassis and engine layout includes switchable four-wheel drive (which Merc cheekily sticks a 4Matic badge on) with low range as standard. X250d is seven-speed auto only. Rear differential lock on options list for £495, as is 20mm of increased ground clearance for £220.

Is it like sitting in a wheelie bin?

VW Amarok

There's a lot of hard plastic. Most of the buttons are robust enough for you to operate them with gloves on. Dark Label version has familiar VW infotainment with nav and reversing camera plus heated front seats.

VW Amarok interior

Ford Ranger

Centre console apparently fashioned from triple-thick takeaway trays and dash a button-fest that's both unfathomable and mostly inaccessible due to the gearlever. Limited spec is generous and seats comfy.

Fiat Fullback Cross

Least sophisticated interior here, mainly due to belligerent and low-rent infotainment system, overly notchy auto 'box action, instrument cluster reminiscent of Casio calculators and unsupportive seats. Plenty of kit, though.

Mercedes X250d

Even if anoraks will be able to spot the Nissan switchgear, the dash layout is almost all Mercedes' own doing. Climate control, and much more, is standard. Ours had car-like options: 360º parking aids (£915) and online nav (£2225).

Mercedes X250d interior

A decent steer or something to fear?

VW Amarok

The most car-like pick-up here to drive. Steering and ride quality are almost as easy and sophisticated as a Polo's. The V6 is gravelly and torquey, and feels even quicker than the stats say, despite a slightly indecisive gearbox.

Ford Ranger

Engine is loud and as gruff as Barry White with a stubbed toe, but heavy-duty gearbox and plentiful torque allow for high-gear starts. Jiggly ride compared to VW and Merc, and steering more rubbery and lifeless than a dog's chewy toy, but reasonably hushed inside at speed.

Fiat Fullback Cross

Fullback is 300kg(ish) lighter than anything else here, so it's quick off the line and keen to pelt around bends. Makes no bones about telling you it's accelerating, though, and ride comfort similar to sitting on a jackhammer.

Mercedes X250d

Best ride quality here by some margin, smothering potholes as if the shocks are filled with Royal Jelly, and pleasingly weighty steering. But it needs to go on a diet; the 187bhp 2.3-litre diesel doesn't feel anywhere near enough, and the brakes are both spongy and weak.

Does it actually stack up as a workhorse?

VW Amarok

There's a wide-reaching and business-orientated options list, decent-ish legroom in the back for three of your crew to clamber into, and it has the widest load bay here by 60mm. Can carry up to 1068kg without falling apart, but braked towing limit is 3100kg – 400kg less than the Ford and Merc.

Ford Ranger

Load bay can handle the most weight of the four, at 1155kg, and can tow a braked trailer up to 3500kg. Double Cab is fine for five adults, and usability points are gained from neat details such as a sunglasses cubby and (optional but cheap) three-pin 230-volt socket.

Fiat Fullback Cross

Diminutive dimensions means Fullback has least payload capacity here, the smallest load bay, and a braked trailer weight limit of a modest 3100kg, like the VW. Still, it's roomy in the back and it's the most manoeuvrable truck here with a teeny turning circle. Hashtag-lifestylers will be pleased by ski/bike/kayak/windsurf carriers on options list.

Mercedes X250d side pan

Mercedes X250d

Load bay is the longest here and as wide as the capacious Ranger, and the braked towing limit is as much as the Ford too. Rear will be a smidge tight for the lankiest of your construction crew colleagues. Go for a less glam trim for maximum toughness points.

Amarok vs Ranger vs Fullback vs X-Class: verdict

VW Amarok V6 Dark Label - ★★★★
Best all-rounder here: quick, capable, tough, sophisticated and a blast to drive.

Mercedes X250d Power - ★★★★
Comfy and luxurious - but if you're going to pay big money for a posh pick-up, wait for the V6.

Ford Ranger Limited - ★★★
A properly useful tool and great value, but stodgy and crude from behind the wheel.

Fiat Fullback Cross - ★★★
Sporty, sprightly and well-equipped but the least capable here and feels last-decade inside.

Amarok vs Ranger vs Fullback vs X-Class: specs

Volkswagen Amarok V6 Dark Label
Price £41,423 (£34,570 ex-VAT)
As tested £41,729 (£34,774.17 ex-VAT)
Engine 2967cc 24v turbodiesel V6, 198bhp @ 3000rpm, 369lb ft @ 1250rpm
Transmission 8-speed auto, all-wheel drive
Performance 9.1sec 0-62mph, 114mph, 34.9mpg, 212g/km CO2
Weight 2178kg
Example insurance quote £809.37
On sale Now

Ford Ranger 2.2 Limited
Price £31,965 (£26,637 ex-VAT)
As tested £33,837 (£28,197 ex-VAT)
Engine 2198cc 16v turbodiesel 4-cyl, 158bhp @ 3700rpm, 284lb ft @ 1500rpm
Transmission 6-speed manual, all-wheel drive
Performance 11.8sec 0-62mph, 109mph, 40.4mpg, 184g/km CO2
Weight 2115kg
Example insurance quote £715.02
On sale Now

Fiat Fullback Cross
Price £34,534 (£27,995 ex-VAT)
As tested £35,023 (£28,395 ex-VAT)
Engine 2442cc 16v turbodiesel 4-cyl, 178bhp @ 3500rpm, 317lb ft @ 2500rpm
Transmission 5-speed auto, all-wheel drive
Performance 10.4sec 0-62mph, 111mph, 37.7mpg, 196g/km CO2
Weight 1860kg
Example insurance quote £715.02
On sale Now

Mercedes-Benz X250d 4MATIC Power
Price £40,920 (£34,100 ex-VAT)
As tested £47,124 (£39,270 ex-VAT)
Engine 2298cc 16v turbodiesel 4-cyl, 187bhp @ 3750rpm, 332lb ft @ 1500rpm
Transmission 7-speed auto, all-wheel drive
Performance 11.8sec 0-62mph, 108mph, 35.8mpg, 207g/km CO2
Weight 2234kg
Example insurance quote £846.56
On sale Now

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By Jake Groves

CAR's staff writer, office Geordie, gamer, lover of hot hatches

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