Mercedes has made an exclusive and luxurious entry in the MPV class, with a breathtaking upmarket version of the new Vito series. The suspension, drivetain and interior has been extensively reworked for this top of the line luxury people mover, and the result is a spacious car which is actually a class of its own...
Hans Knol ten Bensel
Stepping into the big V Class one is almost overwhelmed by the sheer luxury, high level finish and equipment of the interior. Elegant leather seats, massive centre consoles housing folding tables, a dashboard with all the familiar upmarket instruments and tools we find in the top passenger car models bearing the three pointed star.
Just to name a few: the central display in tablet style, the touchpad controller which is thankfully completely intuitive to use, the nice two-piece "floating" styling and design of the entire dashboard. The climate control system has a variable airflow concept which is similar to the S-class, providing “diffuse”, “medium” and “focus” settings.
One finds readily an excellent position behind the wheel, and we all know that the rather upright position typical for vans gives you superb comfort for hours on end. The standard seating position is four seats in the back, but one can select a bench back seat for two or three people at no extra cost. Our test car came in the 3200 mm version, with a three seat bench on the second row.
The rear seats can be moved back and forward to further increase luggage or passenger space, so in terms of roominess and versatility, this V Class is indeed reaching for the stars.
Stellar performance and economy...
The V Class is also reaching for the sky when one looks at the sheer performance. Under the bonnet one now finds the well known 2,143 cc four cylinder Diesel, which delivers here not less than 190 hp or 140 kW.
This is more than sufficient to make the three tonne V Class quite a lively performer, with 0 to 100 km acceleration in a mere 9,1 seconds and a top speed of 128 mph or 206 km.
Under full power, the engine lets you know clearly it is working (very) hard, and intuitively one uses somewhat less power in normal driving circumstances, enjoying the excellent 480 Nm torque of the engine in the medium rev ranges.
There is an "agility" selector at your disposal, and one can choose between Sport, Comfort and Economy. This setting influences throttle response and steering sensitivity. We used almost exclusively the Comfort mode, which suits most the character of this luxury people mover.
The 7 speed auto gearbox is well up to the task, gear changes are swift and smooth. We found the V Class very easy to drive in dense city traffic, as well as on long stretches of motorways, and it is a very restful and all round car to drive. The test car was also equipped with the Burmester Surround Sound System, and needless to say that we thoroughly liked the sound of it.
Where the engine is quite exceptional is in its economy. It delivers the same performance as the 3 litre V6 predecessor in the Viano, but consumes about 28 pct less. Average consumption is 39 mpg or 6,1 litres/100 km, and emissions 159 g/km of CO2. Autonomy is around 950 kilometres with a 57 litre tank.
Suspension is truly excellent, thanks to the already long wheelbase and the generous track width, and moreover the V class is equipped with adaptive damping which adjusts automatically to the road surface. The rear suspension is independent – noblesse oblige – and consists of McPherson struts and coil springs. Steering response – electrically assisted rack and pinion, is quite good, with outstanding precision and sensitivity, well suited to high speed cruising. The exemplary DISTRONIC PLUS adaptive cruise control is also a delight to use.
All round visibility is towards the rear somewhat impaired by the van-type shape of this mighty Mercedes, but here a very sharp high definition rear view camera works wonders, and makes parking into more narrow spaces a breeze.
It is also remarkable how well this large van fits in almost normal size parking spaces anyway. Hill-start assist is standard, so parking on inclined streets is no problem. Our test car came also with the park assist pack, which we really appreciated…
Our test care was shod with aluminium wheels and full-LED headlights, and this gave the V class a decidedly upmarket look. The rear luggage compartment is also very well finished and of course the rear boot lid is electrically operated.
Like we said earlier, the V Class is actually a class of its own. It offers stunning luxury, comfort, roominess, performance, all this combined with very good economy and, as can be expected with the trusted engine and transmission, a very good mechanical longevity and reliability.
The looks of the V class with the proper wheels and headlights, as well as a well balanced chosen colour are quite good indeed, with a distinctive upmarket flair.
So if you are looking for a people mover which stands out above the rest, the V Class is the car for you…
Hans Knol ten Bensel