First Drive: The Mercedes-Benz V-Class is a high-end MPV option
Mercedes has refreshed its luxurious V-Class people mover. Is it still a good all-rounder? Jack Evans has been to find out
What is it?
The MPV segment isn’t one you’d traditionally associate with premium vehicles. However, Mercedes goes against that and is continuing to do so with this – the new V-Class. It’s a facelifted version of the model which went on sale four years ago and arrives to deliver an exceptionally high-quality experience to both the driver and multiple passengers.
It may not be cheap – our test car arrives at a hefty £61,275 after options – but for those who want a tip-top way of ferrying passengers around, it could prove to be just what’s needed. We’ve been out to see if that’s the case.
The older Viano was certainly starting to show its age, and that’s why the new V-Class has been so comprehensively updated. The exterior is sharp and more in-keeping with the rest of the Merc line-up, while the interior gets the sort of tech we’ve come to expect from the firm’s range of passenger cars.
What’s more, there are various layouts available for the inside, while two different lengths – ‘long’ and ‘extra long’ – mean that should you require even more space than the regular van affords, then there’s the option there.
What’s under the bonnet?
The V Class is powered by a reasonably mundane 2.0-litre turbocharged diesel engine which, in the V220, produces 160bhp and 380Nm of torque. It’s not an awful lot of punch from an engine placed in such a large vehicle, but it’s enough to push the van from 0-60mph in 10.9 seconds, and flat-out it’s capable of 121mph.
Efficiency-wise, Mercedes says it’ll return up to 47mpg while emitting 162g/km CO2. Drive is sent to the front wheels through a smooth-shifting nine-speed automatic gearbox, and there’s even the option to take manual control of gear changes via the steering wheel-mounted paddles, should you want to. We’d argue that most V-Class drivers will leave this feature alone for the most part, mind you.
What’s it like to drive?
One of the biggest compliments that you could pay to the V-Class’ driving experience is that, off the bat, it doesn’t feel like a van to drive. The raised-up seating position feels a touch more SUV than regular car, we’ll admit, but the light steering and impressive lack of noise make for a quiet, effortless way of getting around. Parking requires a little more thought, we’ll admit, but a suite of cameras and sensors mean that positioning the leviathan-sized Merc isn’t as much of a headache-causer as we’d expect.
It’s not quick, that’s for sure, but the four-cylinder diesel gets the van up to speed in good enough time. It’s reasonably grumbly under hard acceleration, and it certainly lacks the creamy edge that you get from some of the firm’s larger six-cylinder oil burners.
How does it look?
In truth, the V-Class looks, well, like a big van. It’s certainly one of the sleeker versions on the market today, but the slab sides and large boot required by a multi-person carrier do diminish the amount of stylistic license a company has with a vehicle. That said, the sleek headlights and sharp daytime running lights help to give the V-Class a more futuristic appearance, while the 19-inch wheels – which seem incredibly large for a van – do endow it with a fair amount of premium presence.
It’s not a vehicle that’ll turn heads, but it’s one that upon closer inspection has been well-thought-out and styled so as to not look out of place wherever it goes – be that the airport, the hotel or in the school run.
What’s it like inside?
It’s spacious inside the V-Class – it makes some studio flats look a little poky in comparison – and the cabin seats’ fitment on interior rails means you’ve got all manner of flexibility options when it comes to moving the chairs around. With them all in place, there’s a huge amount of legroom and headroom for all occupants too. There’s the option of seating seven or eight too, or you can remove all the seats and revel in the van’s impressively large load area.
Up front it’s comfortable too, with well-padded seats helped no end by the inclusion of armrests. Everything feels well put together, with high-quality materials used throughout. The column-mounted gearshift – which is a standard sight on Mercedes cars – does help to free up space in the middle of the cabin, too.
What’s the spec like?
There’s no getting away from the fact that the V-Class is an expensive proposition when it comes to people carriers. However, Mercedes has fitted it with a full suite of on-board tech to help justify the outright cost. Safety features such as hill start assist, active parking assist and cruise control all come as standard, along with a panoramic sunroof and Nappa leather upholstery.
A smattering of options had been added to ‘our’ V-Class too, the most notable being the driving assistance package which adds blind-spot assistance and lane keeping assist, among others (a £1,770 expense). Merc’s Comand online infotainment system had also been added on top, which upgrades the van’s standard-fit seven-inch screen to an 8.4-inch unit. It also includes a more comprehensive mapping system but does come at a cost – £1,880, in fact.
The Mercedes V-Class certainly sits on the premium end of the people-moving segment, but it justifies its increased price with excellent build quality, a surprisingly refined driving experience and a frugal engine. It may not be quick, but this isn’t a performance-orientated offering after all. Though other people carriers may match the V-Class for outright person-moving ability, few can rival its premium feeling and car-like driving style.
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