By Khulekani Dumisa
It’s not often that your V-Class assignment is met with a bit of apprehension but it happened recently when I got allocated the updated Mercedes-Benz V220d. Spoilt brat? Not at all. I’d just gotten used to driving the V250d which kicks out 140 kW of power and 440 Nm of torque. I had even been bequeathed a taste of the V300d with 176 kW and 500 Nm (which we are not getting here in South Africa – for now anyways). I thought the drop in power might ruin my V-Class experience. A classic case of knowing a tad too much ruining otherwise good experiences…
The updated V220 – exterior
The V-Class has had minor updates to the exterior. The front features a new front bumper which gives the car a wider stance. The air-inlets have also been tweaked with the diamond grille becoming the stand out feature of the revised front, especially in the AMG-Line. New light-alloy wheel designs and colours have also been added. We particularly liked the bright Hyazinth Red metallic colour of our test V220d.
Inside, things stay mostly the same. That’s not to say the car is any less luxurious. One can confidently say that the cockpit, barring certain technological shortfalls, still leads the segment in terms of quality. Buyers can look forward to new air vents in a sportier turbine design, refreshed upholstery and equipment colours, and new trim element in twin-stripe look is used in the instrument and paneling. Another stand out feature are the new optionally available luxury seats with reclining and back massage functions as well as air conditioning. A missed opportunity is the infotainment as it is starting to show its age a bit. It lags competitors who now offer Apple CarPlay and Andriod Auto. You are relegated to relying on Bluetooth or your cable if you wish to access music or contacts on your phone. The issues are compounded by the type of centre console offered with the mini-fridge. The fridge and heated/chilled cupholders at the top are great but the fact that you have to close the centre console leaves no space for cables connected to the USB Ports. This means the driver or front passenger have to give up a spot to rest their arms which can be problematic on long trips. That said, the overall practicality will win you over. Passengers have ample shoulder and legroom. Getting in and out is easy, and you get plenty of boot space (even with all the seats up).
Like the V250d that we had on test recently, we were blown away by the safety features. These include Crosswind Assist, Attention Assist, and newly added Active Brake Assist, and Highbeam Assist Plus. Active Brake Assist is able to detect the risk of a collision with a vehicle driving in front and initially initiates a visual and acoustic warning. If the driver reacts, Active Brake Assist increases the brake pressure to suit the requirements of the situation. If the driver fails to react, the system initiates autonomous braking. Active Brake Assist also reacts to stationary obstacles or pedestrians crossing. These systems came in handy in the KwaZulu-Natal provincial roads which are notorious for pedestrians crossing the road in undesignated areas or livestock that roams roads without shepherds tending to it.
The V220d is powered by a 2,1 turbodiesel engine with 120kW/380Nm. It is frugal sipping around 7,6l/100km. The power of the engine is perfect if you have a family of five and won’t be towing as the lack of the extra power and torque of the V250d is immediately noticeable if you have a fully packed car. It won’t be an issue though if the idea is to always take leisurely trips around the country.
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