Only the best bus for the family
A minibus is an absolute essential for a road trip, or so I decided. So we worked it that we had the recently revealed latest version of Mercedes-Benz' V250d Avantgarde for a recent mender.
Out time with it saw us driving this executive bus in every environment – from around the village to dropping the throng of kids off at a crowded Clifton, plus that 7-up fully laden jolly into the glorious Karoo and even the cursory chauffeured trip to and from the pub to power open the door and order in, to the delight of those gathered on the stoep.
To say V250d Avantgarde has it all and then some, is as bit of an understatement. I have come to know these buses well between my regular trips abroad to drive Mercs over recent years – chauffeur driven black ones of these are staple transport from hotel to venue to restaurant.
This new one brings a few styling and trim tweaks to enhance V-Class’ traditional versatile and set this Avantgarde apart from its siblings by an individual persona. Step inside to find elegant refreshed upholstery, new colour choices and new turbine design air vents and the option of a splendid pair of pews to pamper middle row passengers with cooling, reclining and back massage functions in a new luxury seat rear cabin option.
Mechanically identical to the outgoing V, the newcomer however packs new a new tech package including 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.
V250d runs and performs most impressively as you’d expect from a Mercedes – like a dream –I was quite impressed to record a sub-ten 0-100km/h run, while its overtaking ability ise properly elastic for a two-ton plus bus—in fact performance was considerably better than anticipated and I even found it a hoot to drive with a bit of spunk. In fact I am sure that there are a few people in the Karoo still scratching their heads…
Fuel consumption is another huge plus – I found challenged the l/100km readout on the open road to achieve some pretty heady figures that we’d struggle to achieve in a compatible sedan in spite of being seven up and toting a full load at around the national speed limit over some quite hilly terrain. I can report that the 6 litres per hundred kilometers claim is quite plausible – and attainable too.
This bus however stars on luxury – the foremost occupants are spoiled in S Cass splendor with everything that opens and shuts, and more is rendered in typical avant-garde Mercedes style. You want for nothing in there, but remember the V also has some pretty handy luxury van rivals out there too – even if all of them lack the allure of the thee-pointed star...
The second row two commander chairs are also special – they can be swung around to create a splendid first-class lounge complete with a versatile pop-up table and all the bells and whistles if needed, while the back row is also quite comfy and plush with that lovely chocolate brown leather.
Okay, it is an expensive choice and we struggled a bit to turn those middle row chairs around, but I’m sure it will get easier with practice. Besides that, we found very little to fault on this bus of buses.
So, if you’re looking for a luxurious means of shuttling up to seven people about in the absolute lap of luxury, there are a few compromises you can make, but what the hell – why not go the whole hog and get the real thing? We did, and it made our travels from the pub chauffeur to road trip all that much more of a pleasure… - Michele Lupini
Images – Dylan McKay
ROAD TESTED: Mercedes-Benz V250d Avantgarde
Engine: 100kW 350Nm 2134cc Turbodiesel
Drive: 7-speed automatic RWD
0-60km/h 4.28 sec
0-100km/h 9.91 sec
0-160km/h 26.57 sec
400m 16.9 sec @ 133km/h
80-120km/h 7.20 sec
120-160km/h 12.65 sec
Fuel: 6 l/100km
Warranty/Service: 2y unl/6y 100Kkm
LIST PRICE: R1.29M
Auto Bakkie Race has revised its Road Test Rating System to deliver a more versatile 1-10 score. Over the past few years, very few cars tested ever achieve less than 75% in our previous scoring system and hardly any more than 95%. The new ABR Rating works in a 1 to 10 basis, where 1 represents a traditional score of 75% or less and 10 is 95% or more.
Auto Bakkie Race road tests all cars using state of the art Racelogic VBox test equipment, both at coastal altitude or at the Reef. All cars are tested starting at the same point on the same test road in all tests. Reef tests are differentiated by (1500m ASL). Where we have tested both sides, both sets of figures are published. Coastal acceleration data most often delivers quicker results due to the higher oxygen content of air at lower altitudes.