- Classy interior
- Flexible seating
- Decent fuel economy
- Not cheap
- Ugly profile
- Not much fun to drive
Launched to replace the old Viano, the Mercedes V-Class seeks to distance itself from the Vito van it’s based on. It’s closest rivals are the Ford Tourneo Custom and the Volkswagen T6 Caravelle. Less spacious but better to drive alternatives include the Seat Alhambra,Volkswagen Sharan and Ford Grand Torneo Connect.
Forget the bland colours and rust-prone steel wheels of the van, then, and say hello to shiny metallic paint, big alloy wheels and a face that could have been transplanted from Merc’s flagship S-Class saloon. The latter means the V-Class sports a big chrome grille combined with intricately designed headlights usually the preserve of posh executive saloons.
The bluff front end, tall body and flat roofline give away the car’s humbly practical origins, but hats off to Mercedes for what is a valiant effort.
Nevertheless, the V-Class’ ugly body has its benefits – interior space being the most obvious. The MPV comes as standard with a six-seat arrangement, with two pairs of seats facing each other in the back and a table in the middle – think mini boardroom. You can, though, specify up to eight seats if you go for the long wheelbase model.
What really separates the V-Class from rivals is its plush interior. The dashboard is dominated by a huge swathe of glossy wood trim and there’s the same large tablet display as you’ll find in other Mercedes. Soft-touch plastics replace the brittle finish found in the V-Class’ commercial cousin and there’s plenty of kit, too. All models come with self-parking systems, a leather interior, sat-nav, and powered doors all-round.
Performance is another decidedly un-van like feature. The V-Class comes as standard with a 2.1-litre diesel engine that can shuttle you, and your associates, from 0-62mph in just 9.2 seconds and keeps on going to an autobahn-friendly 128mph. Handling is comfortable, rather than composed, but we can’t expect too much, considering its van-based chassis.
What we can hope for, however, is that the V-Class is reasonably affordable. With entry to the range starting at around £40k/$60k however, it’s going to take more than a posh interior to lure most families away from its aforementioned, more-reasonably priced rivals.
Cheapest to buy: V220d Sport diesel
Cheapest to run: V220d Sport diesel
Fastest model: V250d Sport diesel
Most popular: V220d SE diesel
Executive levels of luxury
If the upmarket exterior of the Mercedes V-Class isn’t enough to put a smile on your face then the interior surely will be. Even a seasoned road tester would be hard pushed to distinguish the V-Class’ interior from that of one of Mercedes’ executive saloons – it really is that plush.
All models come with a large sat-nav screen – as seen in the new C-Class – that’s allowed Mercedes to cut down on the need for conventional buttons. That leaves plenty of free space for lashings of wood and polished metal and all V-Class models come with an exec-friendly leather interior. Even the driver is treated to a sporty three-spoke leather-trimmed steering wheel and heavily cowled dials – although it’ll take just one spirited spin of the wheel to remember the V-Class is no sports car.
Mercedes V-Class Passenger space
Upmarket materials are all very well, but space is arguably the biggest luxury offered by the V-Class and few MPVs can match the Merc in this regard. Whether you opt for six-, seven- or eight-seat configurations, the V-class has masses of room inside – there’s enough headroom for anyone this side of a Harlem Globetrotter and legroom is generous enough for Swedish supermodels, too. Access to the interior is excellent thanks to two big rear sliding doors.
Mercedes V-Class Boot space
That upright profile also delivers massive pay offs when it comes to boot space and, even with all the seats up, the V-Class offers a minimum capacity of 1,030 litres. Drop all the seats down and space is more, well, van-like, with an astonishing 4,610 litres to play with – never mind the family pooch, that’s enough for a small horse. Whats more, opening the split-folding tailgate reveals a massive opening and a flat floor.
Once underway, it’s harder for the V-Class to mask its humble origins and the biggest give away is light steering that does little to encourage enthusiastic cornering. That said, body control is decent, and all UK V-Class models come fitted with adaptive dampers that testers report provides a smooth ride on the German roads the car was launched on.
A better match for the V-Class is the seven-speed automatic gearbox. It can’t match the quick shifts of the best twin-clutch automatics but, in a car like this, that doesn’t really matter. Most drivers will be more than happy with its smooth shifts. Automatic models (standard fit in the UK) also come as standard with Agility Select, which allows the driver to choose from three gearbox and throttle settings – the sportier of which boosts power and torque for brief bursts of acceleration.
One of the most useful features of the V-class, especially considering its size, is the Active Park Assist system. It finds a suitable parking space and steers into it automatically, preventing any difficulties in tight spots. A reversing camera is also standard, providing visibility and guidance for when you’re easing into a space manually.
The 2.1-litre diesel is the sole engine available in the new V-class range and is available in 163hp/280lb ft (V220) or 190hp/325lb ft (V250) states of tune. One of the reasons Mercedes has achieved such high torque figures is the use of sequential twin-turbochargers, which allow for a broad spread of power across the rev range.
The V250’s acceleration figure of 0-62mph in 9.1 seconds and a top speed of 129mph (2.7 seconds and 9mph faster than the V220) is quite impressive considering its 2,100kg mass. The engine isn’t the most refined unit when pushed, but this is common among most four-cylinder diesels (it’s by no means the worst in this class) and can be forgiven when taking into account the impressive torque.
Fuel economy is marginally better on the V220 at 45.6mpg combined – the more powerful V250 achieves 0.8mpg less – a trade-off for its extra 27hp and 44lb ft. Emissions vary slightly between the two as well, at 163g/km and 166g/km for the V220 and V250 respectively. Meaning the former costs £180/$270 to tax annually, while the latter comes in at £205/$307.
Safety is paramount in the V-class and it scored five stars when it was crash tested by Euro NCAP in 2014. All models come withairbags, stability control and attention assist, which monitors for fatigue and warns the driver to take a break.
Sport model also get Mercedes’ LED Intelligent Light System, which adapts the lights to various conditions and driving situations, and adaptive brake lights that pulse during an emergency stop.
Spend £1,295/$1,942 and you can also have the Driving Assistance Pack. It includes Distronic Plus (Mercedes’ version of active cruise control),Lane Keeping Assist, Bling Spot Assist and Pre-Safe Assist, which tensions the seatbelts and closes the car’s windows if it senses an imminent collision.
The V-Class costs significantly more than a VW Sharan, Seat Alhambra or Ford Galaxy, but none of these models offer the space (or the luxurious interior) that you get in the Mercedes.
You’re not just paying for the Mercedes badge (well, not entirely) – the V-Class comes with more standard equipment than its rivals, which goes some way to justifying the price tag. That list includes things like sat-nav, a powered boot lid, electric sliding doors, leather upholstery and heated front seats.
The Mercedes V-Class is far from being a complete package; it’s more expensive than most of its rivals and can’t offer the driver enjoyment of models such as the Ford Galaxy.
What it does offer, however, is space and a luxurious interior, which makes it ideal for whisking executives to and from airports. If that’s your brief, the V-Class is the car to choose.