Vehicle Reviews

Mercedes-Benz V-Class - Review of the Week

One thing Mercedes' V-Class MPV certainly isn't short of is space. But it's twinned with a very high quality statement. It's a difficult option to ignore.

The Mercedes-Benz V-Class is one of the very biggest and plushest large MPVs you can buy and represents a decent step forward from the Viano model it replaced. Yes, it has commercial roots, but they're very well disguised, with both interior and exterior styling and finish having progressed considerably since the last time the Stuttgart brand brought us a model of this type. If you want to carry seven or eight people and all their luggage - and do so with a bit of class in one of the best large MPVs, then this vehicle's worth a look.

When it comes to engines, the Mercedes V-Class has sensibly stuck to tried and tested turbodiesel technology and mated this with its usual 7G-TRONIC PLUS 7-speed auto transmission. The V220d entry-level model is powered by a four-cylinder 2.1-litre engine which ought to be enough for most as it generates 163PS and some 380Nm of torque, good for 62mph in 11.8s en route to 121mph. Should you want to go a stage further, you'll need the V250d which makes 190PS and a massive 440Nm, improving those figures to 9.1s and 129mph. That's about as much speed and pulling power as the 3.0-litre V6 turbodiesel engine used in the Viano model that this car was developed to replace.

Interior noise has been reduced significantly - thanks to improved cabin insulation - and the paddleshift auto 'box gives buyers access to Mercedes' AGILITY SELECT system. Although this set-up sounds suspension-related, it's not. Press a button and you'll be able to choose between four driving modes: economical, comfortable, sporty and manual. Engine, accelerator and transmission response are then adapted accordingly. If the driver activates the modes 'Sport', 'Comfort' or 'Manual', an additional output of 13PS and 40Nm becomes available in acceleration phases. In this over-torque mode, the V250d can develop 205PS and 480Nm of torque. Mercedes hasn't overlooked the handling though. The AGILITY CONTROL suspension features adjustable dampers and the latest generation of ESP stability control features many assistance functions. The electromechanical power steering has been geared to take the effort out of manoeuvring such a large MPV in heavy traffic.

Mercedes-Benz V-Class - Review of the Week

Like its predecessor the Viano, this Mercedes V-Class is based on a van, Mercedes' Vito LCV model, though that said, it's a lot more car-like these days. While a commercial vehicle with windows can only be styled so far, you have to say that this latest V isn't a bad looking thing for a big box. The headlights are fashionably smeared back, the grille looks agreeably assertive and even the slab sides have had some swage lines and shape built into them. You don't buy a V-Class for its sexy styling though. You buy it for its space and solidity. There's a choice of two body lengths, 'Long' and 'Extra Long': we'd suggest you go large, not least because you have to have the 'Extra Long' version to be able to seat up to eight people rather than merely seven folk.

Whatever variant you go for, you'll be impressed by the way that Mercedes has clearly worked at improving the look and feel of the cabin, with fine Nappa leather finishes available and a simple but extremely elegant dashboard that has more than a hint of S-Class about it. In this regard at least, it's like no van you've ever seen before. As standard, you get four individual luxury seats with armrests in two seat rows. As an alternative to the individual seats, two or three-passenger bench seats are offered. Cargo can be stowed under all other bench seats. Very little effort is required to move the individual seats and benches fore and aft or to position them in the quick release seat rails. There's also a standard separately opening rear windscreen which is handy in tight parking spaces. You can also spend a little extra and go for the powered EASY-PACK tailgate which can be opened, closed and stopped in any position electrically. If you're not too tall, I'd recommend ticking this box as the tailgate is quite a reach when open.

It initially seems a bit curious that Mercedes decided to ditch the Viano brand and revive the Mercedes V-Class badge because the old first generation turn-of-the-century V-Class model was never any great shakes. Still, if you can shake that sense of association, then you'll probably love the MK2 model version of this huge, classy MPV. It's an impressive thing. Gone are the acres of grey plastic dashboard, pogo stick ride quality and bland crew bus styling. This thing has class inside and out and moves the game for the best large MPV forward in several areas.

Both the V220d and the V250d show their class in unexpected ways and purloin bits from some of Mercedes' most impressive passenger cars to great effect. The electrical system and the steering are based on the C-Class, while the COMAND infotainment set-up is basically the one you'll find in an E-Class. Since the old seven-seat R-Class model was pensioned off, Mercedes has been needing something to step into the breach. Few would have nominated this Mercedes V-Class for that role but it's surprisingly appealing. Go on: go large.

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