An MPV (Multi-purpose vehicle) sounds like a sheer workhorse. Not much to it, it really just gets the job done and that’s that. Not this one. We had the Mercedes-Benz V-Class 250d Avant-garde Bluetech for a while and it was a joy to drive. It ticks all the right boxes, its practical, spacious and insanely gorgeous to look at. It really does turn heads on the road, looks better than most of its rivals. Surely it’s bound to be a hit?
The exterior is appealing. It’s like a luxury hotel on wheels, basically its inviting. The LED’s/halogen headlights really add something to its looks. Compared to the previous model, the bonnet is trenched out and Merc’s three pointed star stand out more. In fact they shine thanks to the chrome finishing. The design of the tailgate is also something to marvel at not only because of the design but, because of its convenience. Yes, you can open just the window to access the storage space on level with it. Mercedes has thrown in two plastic baskets to help store small items.
The interior can best be explained in two parts, firstly by looking into the luxurious amenities at the disposal of the driver and then the perks enjoyed by the passengers at the back. Our Avant-garde model came with a wooden trim on the dashboard leading up to the 7-inch screen in the middle. The wave shaped dash also has the touchpad from other Mercedes-Benz models. It’s meant to work like an iPad but that is not my favourite feature. I preferred the rotary dial above which performed most of the functions of the touchpad. The large leather steering wheel felt good to touch and I was pleased with the great comfort of the Nappa leather, active seat ventilation and heating. There is a fridge a centre console that comfortable fits in a 750 ml bottle. The two cup holders in the centre are electronically operated to be set to heat or cold. Compared to its rivals, this V-Class screams luxury. It has a similar sense of elegance the S-Class has, making it a really classy MPV.
The back can be accessed by electronic sliding doors on either side of the car. The doors can be operated by the drive, the back passengers or by remote. The biggest sell of the back, apart from its space value proposition is that the seats can be configured in a number of ways. The two rows of seats can face each other or they can all face the driving position. With the seats facing each other and the pop table, we could host VIPs for a conference on the road. The seats can also be removed from the car creating a massive storage space that can easily gobble up two bicycles for an epic cycling trip in a faraway destination. Communication between the driver and the passengers at the back is simplified by the front-to-rear voice amplification system. A microphone in the overhead control panel transmits conversations between the driver and back passengers via rear loudspeakers. No shouting for attention in the V-Class.
The V-Class asserts its premium status by not compromising on safety. Our test Avantegarde came standard with safety features like cross wind assist and hill assist, collision prevention assist. The highlight was the 360° camera that provides visual support when parking and manoeuvring. A total of four cameras monitor the area surrounding the car and make you seem like a parking and manoeuvring expert, critical skills when operating an MPV the size of the V-Class.
Spending over a month with a vehicle allows you to experience in a number of situations and it consistently challenges your opinion about its abilities or lack thereof. The V-Class is a large vehicle which makes practical for carrying passengers and storing luggage. However its large size makes it tricky to manoeuvre. Fortunately safety features like the 360° camera aid against the any perceived inconvenience. The same is true with the noticeable body roll. The collision prevention assist is a nice reminder that you are getting close for comfort. With that said, the V-class is a comfortable car to drive in the city and open roads. The automatic transmission is enjoyable in all driving modes on offer: economical, comfortable, and sporty. The later together with paddle shifters allow you a more responsive drive. Massive as is, our V250d was no slouch. It overtaking and changing lanes in the city was a dream. Over long distances, the V-Class glided with comfort on national roads and the less comfortable provincial roads.
The V-Class is priced from R 840,480.
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