The best bus?
Like most of its competitors, Mercedes-Benz is on a serious mission to build more and more models in an effort to offer their products in almost every market segment. They’ve also been fiddling with their range descriptions and the latest addition slots in at the end – this new V-Class.
There are a few important things you should know about the new Vee Class. For starters, it is not a dollied-up Sprinter or restyled Vito; this MPV is loosely based on the new C-Class and Mercedes took the opportunity to build a completely new van which replaces the Viano range.
Secondly, while the luxurious Viano fell under the umbrella of Commercial Vehicles (vans, trucks, busses), this new model is so refined and occupant-focused that it’s been shifted into the custody of Mercedes-Benz’ passenger vehicle division and you should find it at any showroom next to A, C, E and S-Classes.
South African families will always gravitate towards 4×4’s and SUV’s (now all starting with “G”) but the non-4×4, super-spacious, über-versatile and luxurious V-Class differentiates itself so far from bundu bashers that there’s no real risk of cross-cannibalism within the ranks of the three-pointed star.
Next to exclusive resorts and executive shuttle companies, most customers for this new van will probably be well-healed families and rather flush companies. Available in three distinctive trim levels, the Vee can be anything from an adventure van to sporty school bus or clandestine VIP transport.
Using Merc’s accomplished 2.1-litre turbo-diesel four cylinder engine in three states of tune ranging from 100kW / 330Nm to 140kW / 440Nm, the V-Class is available in standard trim as a V200 CDI or V220 CDI, over V220 CDI Avantgarde to V250 BlueTEC and V250 BlueTEC Avantgarde.
Sound like gobbledygook? Essentially you can choose which power output and trim you would like at prices ranging from N$695,000 to N$985,000 excluding options. While those numbers sound exuberant – especially compared to rivals – Mercedes justifies their asking prices with premium quality and standard features.
Even the base model ships with items like active park assist, full cabin air-conditioning, pollen fiter, leather trim, adjustable multi-function steering wheel, 7-inch infotainment screen and touch pad, multiple storage facilities, two 12V sockets, Bluetooth, start/stop function, cruise control, trailer coupling and alloy wheels.
Safety features include front airbags and curtain bags, child locks, automatic headlights and wipers, lane keeping assist, drowsiness detection, cross-wind stabilization, hill start assist, remote central locking and immobilizer. Mercedes-Benz also sells every V-Class with a 6-year/100,000km full maintenance contract.
Optional extras are a sport pack, interior design pack, two-piece electric tailgate, electric sliding doors, more airbags, bigger wheels, LED intelligent headlights, ambient lighting, Burmester surround sound, navigation and media inputs, reversing and/or 360° camera, driver assistance systems, climate control, and strangely, paint.
Who would want an unpainted V-Class?
Anyway. Depending on the chosen model, some of those optional features will be included in the price and you may also choose from different seating, door, floor rail and storage configurations to best suit your needs. Visit the nearest Mercedes-Benz dealership to learn about the many possibilities.
These include the choice between a six-speed manual or seven-speed automatic gearbox, the latter featuring a three-mode drivetrain response system with manual override option via paddles on the steering wheel. Not bad for a van, hey? I thought so too on the recent V-Class launch.
Although I drove only automatic models, every van oozed luxury and refinement with a car-like cabin and reasonably nimble handling. Thanks to improved efficiency, claimed consumption can be as low as 5.7L/100km (V220 CDI) while the big V250 BlueTEC sprints to 100km/h in just over nine seconds.
One thing the new V-Class isn’t big on is value; you’ll certainly find more of that with competing brands. However; most of them won’t be able to offer quite as many innovative features or trendy technology in their products so the V-Class is for clients who want the best van money can buy.