This is the Mercedes-Benz V Class and it’s what happens when a luxury car maker goes all out and makes an MPV. It’s meant to focus on Space, Practicality and Comfort and it’s also very luxurious. But who exactly is it for?
Let’s start with what it looks like on the outside – well at 5,140 mm long and 1,880 mm tall it certainly is a whole lot of car, and yes there’s not a lot to it from the B-Pillar backward but you have to applaud their attempt to draw your attention at the front with the big star on the grill and the swept-back full LED headlamps, and such a big car must surely be a handful out on the road.
Once you’re behind the wheel, it is quite really manageable. The view is actually very good and it’s got huge windows so you get a great view out the side with low sills. The other thing that makes matters so much easier is the steering which is very-very light and makes turning this car an absolute cinch, but don’t be fooled because at some point you will realize this is a very big car and when you’re taking a U-Turn, you’ve got to keep an eye out for what’s going on behind.
Rear visibility is somewhat hampered by the tall rear seats but thankfully the outside mirrors are big and give a wide field of view. So big 5.2 meter MPV is supposed to carry lots of people so what engine they have given it? Is it a V6 Diesel? NO, it’s a 4-Cylinder Diesel and it’s mated to a 7-Speed Automatic transmission, but it’s not the new generation 2-Liter engine from the C-Class, E-Class or the CLS, but it’s the old generation 2.1-Liter engine which is unusual because internationally barely a week after the India launched Mercedes unveiled an updated V class with the new engine and the new 9-Speed Auto.
But like the new engine they have made this one BS-VI ready and yes that also means it comes with an Adblue tank next to the fuel filler cap. The motor outputs 163 Bhp and 380 Nm of peak torque, which is less than even a C-220 D. Now lets put it into sport mode which seems surely ironic in an MPV and see what it’s got.
Power delivery is quite gentle and linear and that’s actually a good thing. The last thing you want is your passengers being jolted around in the back. It takes a little while to get into its stride but once you pick up some momentum, it’ll move. Let’s just hope it’s the same once you load it up with people and luggage.
Here’s some really interesting things about this car – it’s got a BIG Boot
Now even with all its seats in place you can tell that the new Mercedes-Benz V-Class has a pretty substantially sized boot. You can stack a lot of stuff vertically and the best part is it’s got quite a low loading lip, so putting your stuff in isn’t too hard, then there’s this rather sturdy parcel shelf which you can remove entirely but I’m not sure you want to and there’s a good reason for that say you’ve packed your boot up already and you’ve forgotten just the last few things to put in what you can do instead is just flip open this tailgate and access the parcel shelf right there.
With the parcel shelf, you also get these really neat baskets that fold out and you can carry groceries I suppose or any number of things but it’s just a nice little convenient touch. It will confuse fuel pump attendants. Now here’s another interesting bit because these doors slide all the way back here they can’t have the fuel filler cap where you expect it to be so instead what they’ve done is put the fuel filler cap over the side of passenger’s door.
It is very much a luxury van
Now this may be a Van but they have also done their best to remind you that you’re still in a Mercedes. There’s lots of soft touch materials all around, nice brushed aluminium trim and huge slab of artificial wood on the dashboard. The front seats are powered with memory function and even heated. One thing you will notice however is that the command infotainment screen is a bit smaller and it uses Mercedes’ last generation software. Still overall, it’s quite decently equipped.
The seats are flexible
Now one of the cool things about the Mercedes-Benz V-Class, specifically this more luxurious variant of the V-Class is that it has four rear seats that face one another and back, now while that’s very good in a boardroom kind of way but it might get a little bit frustrating say you don’t want to look at somebody’s face the whole way and you don’t want to face backwards on your entire journey, well these seats are modular they’re on rails, they slide back and forth and they can even be removed and turned around.
However, that’s not quite as easy as it sounds. You have to detach the seat from the rails, lift it out and turn it around and though you could do it yourself it might make sense to have a helping hand. After all that work though we put the seat back the way it was because it’s probably better to leave them facing each other.
Now I find this two facing two sitting arrangement quite interesting, you see it reminds a lot of a limousine from one of those big Hollywood movies as you’ll feel like you’re either gonna make a massive deal or be told by some mafia boss sitting over there that you’ll sleep with the fishes tomorrow.
I like that each passenger gets their own dedicated A/C vent and that the rear cabin has its own climate zone. I wish there were more charging options back here though, for your phones or your laptops all you get is two 12-Volt sockets for the backseat and because the rear-facing seats are pressed up against the driver and front-passenger, you’ll have to jostle with them for a bit of comfort.
So you might end up having to slide your seat a bit forward and sharing legroom with a person in front of you.
The rear windows don’t open
Nothing about it as it’s fine because this car is of course very well Air-Conditioned in a modern luxury car opens their windows anyway, but if you wanted a bit of fresh air you’ll have to pull over to the side and hop out. What also doesn’t help is that there are no Sun blinds on these huge windows which means you’re always on display like you’re in a big fishbowl.
The rearmost seat is the seat you want to be in facing the right way with enough room to stretch out and a beautiful view out from just about every direction. It’s worth noting that these seats themselves objectively aren’t really all that great not by Mercedes standards anyway. They’re not the thrones you’d find in the back of say a Mercedes-Benz E-Class and because they have to be slid up and down on rails they are a bit slim and not quite as softly cushioned as you’d like.
One thing I find really impressive about this is compared to other vans which feel really bouncy when they are unladen and they’re not weighed down in the back, this one doesn’t, this one feels nice and tied down and has a really plush mature ride, so even when you’re out on the highway at high speed and just you in the back, you won’t get tossed around too much.
In fact this exclusive variant even comes with adaptive dampers which helps a great deal. The inconspicuous looking center console between the back seats is more than meets the eye. If you slide it forward and fold it out it opens up into a very useful table, you could use it for lunch or as a place to keep your laptop or you can take your office with you. Say you have a meeting and you don’t want to go to the office and have this meeting you’d rather be somewhere else but you don’t have the time to do both, well the easiest thing to do and I think that’s ultimately this cause piece the resistance is you have the meeting in the Van. It’s quite a funny thing driving this out of the road because people just don’t know what to make of It, but can you blame them? Because a car like this you really don’t know where it belongs. At first glance it’s a Rs 82 Lakhs MPV and everyone thought that the Innova was expensive!
In the same way we can no longer judge the Innova against lesser MPVs, we cannot judge the Mercedes-Benz V-Class against even the Innova. This is an altogether different league. It has some very unique applications especially as a boardroom on wheels. I could also see it used as a luxury family car great for long journeys may be to bring the in-laws and luggage along while you zip off ahead in your AMG!
Mercedes chose to bring this car to India in there because of new government norms allowing car makers to import up to 2,500 units of a certain model without having to homologate them, saving precious time and money.
But at the end of the day, it is very pricey MPV also when you consider it’s not quite as luxurious as other Mercs. It gets only a 4-Cylinder diesel and has all the appeal of well, a van.
So yes, the V-Class is a very niche product that won’t do high sales numbers but when you are the largest and most successful luxury car brand in India, it’s okay to have a few more niches.