Is it the actual space requirement, or is the call of freedom echoing not only in the direction of the SUV, but above all through the interiors of a large-capacity van like the one VW Multivan?
The urge for family-oriented panel vans can be observed especially in suburbs with well-off residents. The said Volkswagen Commercial Vehicles model is just around the corner with the second child, and everyone at the very latest with the thought of the possibility of child number three. Or the competitor with a star in the cooler.
In 1996 Mercedes-Benz launched the first V-Class. Like the model from Hanover, the inventor of the automobile used the van base (in this case the Vito) for a frilly car variant. There was even a V280 with a six-cylinder engine – by the way, with the 174 hp VR6 from VW! Quality problems in the V-Class quickly caused annoyance among customers. This also applies to the successor Viano. Neither generation was able to completely shed their commercial vehicle character.
That changed in 2014. The third premium in the segment of fine buses, now again with the name V-Class, sat. With a premium look inside and out, three body lengths and many options from the car models, the V-Class finally met the high demands that one rightly places on a Mercedes-Benz car.
The model planners in Stuttgart were able to take their five years to revise the V-Class. They did not lose their self-confidence even with the VW competitor, which was extensively lifted for the T6.1.
A new bumper with a larger air inlet at the front, new paint options and modified wheel designs are enough for the V-Class when visiting the beauty salon. Inside, the round ventilation nozzles from the compact series moved in.
V300d with 239 hp
The use of new engines was more important in order to meet current emission standards. Since then, the V-Class has been driving up in three power levels, each serving from a two-liter four-cylinder diesel. For the test, the Benz bus painted in the chic hyacinth red metallic rolled out as a V300d (combined fuel consumption: 5.9–6.1 l / 100 km; combined CO2 emissions: 155–161 g / km²). This designation indicates the most powerful version of the diesel engine with an output of 176 kW / 239 hp.
The middle of three body lengths meets all the requirements that are made in normal life in terms of space for people and luggage as well as the appearance. At 5.14 meters, the V300d is then almost 24 centimeters longer than a Multivan – this is a tip for readers who are now measuring the garage or carport.
The OM654, the internal engine designation (OM for oil engine, i.e. diesel – no joke!) Only sounds grumpy the first few bars after a cold start. The smoothness quickly gains the upper hand. With the lever to the right of the steering wheel, the standard nine-speed automatic is flicked to “D” and the journey begins.
As the V300d, the Mercedes V-Class is one of the permanent cars in the country – not only among buses and vans. 500 Newton meters of maximum torque are sent to the rear wheels (all-wheel drive with the additional name 4Matic is optional). If necessary, an additional 30 Newton meters can be added briefly via overtorque.
A top speed of 220 km / h can be reached effortlessly
The V-Class, which weighs just under 2.2 tonnes, accelerates to 100 km / h in 7.9 seconds and effortlessly towards the top speed of 220 km / h on the motorway. Even then, the V300d with the agility control chassis, which is standard from the Avantgarde equipment line, is always full and safe on the asphalt. The frequency-dependent variable damping does a great job.
The driver and, in the case of the test car configuration, five passengers in three rows can jet towards their destination at almost ICE speed. The challenge lies in the other road users. Although the large Mercedes is fully positioned in the exterior and interior mirrors, hardly anyone associates such high speeds with a “panel van”.
It’s good that the brakes of the V-Class are also large and always ensure powerful deceleration without fading.
On long journeys, the adaptive cruise control system is activated anyway and a stress-free travel pace within the range of the recommended speed is selected. The sensors in the front mask recognize other road users early and the vehicle is braked gently. Only the increase in speed on a free path ahead, for example after swerving into the left lane, has a somewhat sluggish effect.
At night, the light output of the LED headlights is impressive. With the optional “High Beam Assistant Plus”, oncoming traffic and vehicles in front are reliably removed from the light cone.
MBUX in the V-Class
Now we finally come to the reason why the Mercedes V-Class was only rolled out for testing some time after the facelift. It can also be found in the interior, more precisely in the cockpit. In 2019, the long-serving, let’s say old-fashioned, command system was still running.
After even the larger Sprinter was allowed to switch to the new MBUX (Mercedes-Benz User Interface) technology, the V-Class was also there with a slight delay. Finally, if you pay 328 euros extra, smartphones can be integrated via Apple CarPlay or Android Auto.
The ten-inch display, which stands upright above the center console, has a high resolution. The factory navigation system is online and uses real-time traffic data. The route instructions can be shown on the display between the round instruments – but a head-up display is not available.
Slightly below a bar of high-quality direct selection buttons is a touchpad for controlling some infotainment functions that you do not want or cannot do via the touchscreen – because this requires longer arms depending on the seating position.
The waitress didn’t win
Compared to the rotary push button of the previous command system (yes, the one in the spaceship enterprise design), the touchpad is an ergonomic step backwards. The hand is not on the surface, you cannot execute commands with your finger on the surface as without distraction as with a noticeably locking rotary wheel. Especially annoying when you want to leaf through pieces of music in a playlist. It always takes one click and one click too many.
“Hey, Mercedes” doesn’t help in this case either. Otherwise, the voice control works almost perfectly. It also understands complicated destination addresses in a murmur and takes over the route guidance. The air conditioning can also be controlled with commands like “I’m cold”. A faux pas: When you say “Hey Mercedes, activate the driver’s seat heating”, the answer is that the car has unfortunately no heated seats. It did – the adaptation of MBUX to the V-Class vehicle platform seems to have a blind spot here.
Price comparison with the VW Multivan
The V-Class is therefore a high-quality, fast coach equipped with the latest connectivity. No wonder that you are asked to pay for it. The extensive Avantgarde Edition costs as V300d from 64,496 euros, the test car with a few extras has a list price of 73,468.60 euros. A look at the configurator from Volkswagen Commercial Vehicles is enough for consolation: A suitably equipped T6.1 Multivan is, with 199 hp -Diesel, noticeably more expensive.