Mercedes keeps the V ahead of the game
Mercedes-Benz likes to call its V-Class the ‘King of the Road’. Now, I have had ample time in the V, including a few great road trips locally and abroad over the past few years, both at the wheel or lazing in the back to appreciate that claim is not really an exaggeration. In its own realm, there is little to touch the V and it seems I am not alone in liking it — Benz sold over 200K of the outgoing car around the world, 64,000 of those in the last year alone and while it makes for a fine VIP shuttle, it seems South African families love it for what V does best.
Local sales are predominately to growing and larger families with active lifestyles and leisure needs, some of whom have several pursuits from sports and outdoor adventures, while others tend towards dual work and fun roles too, but V still serves as a great VIP travel and hotel shuttle. In fact you can have it all in a V-Class.
Now the ‘Mercedes of MPVs’ has just been under the knife to deliver a striking, subtly restyled front-end design, a new range of alloy wheel designs and a sportily ‘streamlined' cockpit. The visual tweaks build on V-Class’ traditional versatile, functional and luxurious strengths with each of the Avantgarde Standard and AMG lines benefiting an individual persona.
The lower grades now get a new twin chrome bar radiator grille above a broad lower bumper grille, which gains chrome trim in Avantgarde, while the AMG Line swaps all that for a shiny new chrome-pinned ‘diamond' grille and a sporty triple-vent bumper style. Add new 17, 18 and 19-inch light-alloy wheel designs to complete the job.
Moving inside, V-Class gains elegant refreshed upholstery, new colour choices and new turbine design air vents for a sportier, more modern feel along with new twin-stripe trim elements for those familiar piano lacquer, ebony wood, carbon fibre and brushed aluminium finishes. But that’s not all — perhaps the newcomer's coolest new facet is a pair of splendid pews to pamper middle row passengers with cooling, reclining and back massage functions in a new luxury seat rear cabin option.
Available with Merc’s trusted OM 651 turbodiesel in the choice of three 100kW 330Nm V 200d, 120kW 380Nm V 220d and 140kW 440 outputs, the flagship V 250d is good for 100km/h in 9.1 seconds while delivering an extremely smooth ride. Driving the rear wheels through Merc’s 7G Tronic automatic, V-Class has a cavernous cabin while maintaining surprisingly small dimensions to ensure wieldy and easy to drive day-to-day usability.
V-Class now also packs Active Brake Assist to detect a collision with a vehicle, stationary obstacles or crossing pedestrians, as well as Crosswind, Highbeam and Attention Assistants to warn a drowsy driver they may be about to fall asleep, over and above the rest of the kit that saw V-Class redefine the safety standards in its segment.
On the road, the rear of a V-Class is a sublime way to travel — especially cosseted in those new chairs and backed by a heavenly versatility including that easy to open table and a broad and cleverly thought out range of convenience, from myriad packing spaces to the aircon and top drawer connectivity and infotainment.
Behind the wheel V-Class masks its van credentials brilliantly — especially in the higher, more powerful grades — it seems to think it’s a car and acts like it too. V may still lack some of Merc’s latest jewels, but Merc suits promised those in the not too distant future — not that there is anything wrong with what it has, but the next level is worth looking forward to, too.
In all, Mercedes-Benz' V facelift is a worthwhile step forward — not that the previous one had many real rivals, but these well-timed tweaks will no doubt make sure that the new one is the King of the Road again.
And to celebrate the facelift’s arrival, Mercedes-Benz Vans South Africa is offering all new V-Class customers a complimentary top-up to a 6-year/100 000km maintenance plan over the standard 5-year/100 000 km maintenance plan. Sounds like a deal! - Michele Lupini
Mercedes-Benz V-Class pricing:
V 200d R913K
V 220d R955K
V 250d R1.02M
V 220d Avantgarde R1.25M
V 250d Avantgarde R1.29M