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Mercedes-Benz V-Class test drive

Mercedes has refreshed its luxurious V-Class people mover. Is it still a good all-rounder?

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The MPV segment isn’t one you’d traditionally associate with premium vehicles. However, Mercedes-Benz goes against that and is continuing to do so with this – the facelifted V-Class. It’s an updated version of the model which went on sale four years ago and claims to deliver a high-quality experience to both the driver and multiple passengers.

It may not be cheap – our test car arrives at a hefty £61,275 after options – but for those who want a tip-top way of ferrying passengers around, it could prove to be just what’s needed. We’ve been out to see if that’s the case.

What’s new about the Mercedes-Benz V-Class?

The current V-Class was launched in 2014, so this is a mid-life update rather than an all-new vehicle. Visually, there have been a few tweaks here and there, as well as some safety and technology updates.

The most significant change is a rage of new 2.0-litre diesel engines, which replace the previous 2.1-litre units that had been around for many years across the Mercedes-Benz passenger car range.

As before, there are various layouts available for the inside, while three different lengths – standard, long and extra-long – mean that you should be able to find a size that works for your personal or business needs.

How does it look?

In truth, the V-Class looks, well, like a big van. It’s certainly one of the sleeker versions on the market today, but the slab sides and large boot required by a multi-person carrier do diminish the amount of stylistic license a company has with a vehicle. That said, the sleek headlights and sharp daytime running lights help to give the V-Class a more modern appearance, while the AMG Line’s 19-inch wheels – which seem incredibly large for a van – do endow it with a fair amount of premium presence.

It’s not a vehicle that will turn heads, but it’s one that upon closer inspection has been well-thought-out and styled so as to not look out of place wherever it goes – be that the airport, the hotel or in the school run.

What’s the spec like?

There’s no getting away from the fact that the V-Class is an expensive proposition when it comes to people carriers. However, Mercedes has fitted it with a suite of on-board tech to help justify the outright cost. Safety features such as hill start assist, active parking assist and cruise control all come as standard, along with Nappa leather upholstery and even a panoramic sunroof (not available on standard-wheelbase models).

Some key active safety systems are only available as options, however, which hurts on a vehicle at this price point. The Driving Assistance Package, which adds blind-spot assistance , lane keeping assistance, adaptive cruise control and pre-collision occupant protection, is a £1,770 extra.

The optional Comand Online infotainment system was also fitted to our test model, which upgrades the van’s standard-fit seven-inch screen to an eight-inch unit. It also includes a more comprehensive mapping system but does come at a cost – £1,880, in fact.

What’s the Mercedes-Benz V-Class like inside?

It’s spacious inside the V-Class – it makes some studio flats look a little poky in comparison – and the cabin seats’ fitment on interior rails means you’ve got all manner of flexibility options when it comes to moving the chairs around. With them all in place, there’s plenty of legroom and headroom for all occupants. There’s the option of seating seven or eight too, or you can remove all the seats and revel in the van’s impressively large load area.

  • Mercedes-Benz V-Class review - interior and dashboard | The Van Expert
  • Mercedes-Benz V-Class review - middle row seating | The Van Expert
  • Mercedes-Benz V-Class review - load space | The Van Expert

Up front it’s comfortable too, with well-padded seats helped no end by the inclusion of armrests. Everything feels well put together, with high-quality materials used throughout. The column-mounted gearshift – which is a standard sight on Mercedes cars – does help to free up space in the middle of the cabin, too.

What’s under the bonnet?

The Mercedes-Benz V-Class is powered by a new 2.0-litre turbocharged diesel engine, replacing the old 2.1-litre unit in the pre-facelift model. In the V 220 d specification tested here, it produces 163hp and 380Nm of torque. It’s not an awful lot of punch from an engine placed in such a large vehicle, but it’s enough to push the van from 0-60mph in 10.9 seconds and onwards to a top speed of 121mph.

If you want more oomph, the V 250 d produces 190hp while the V 300 d offers 240hp from a reworked version of the same engine.

Efficiency-wise, Mercedes says the V 220 d will return up to 47mpg while emitting 162g/km of CO2. Drive is sent to the rear wheels through a smooth-shifting nine-speed automatic gearbox, and there’s even the option to take manual control of gear changes via the steering wheel-mounted paddles, should you want to. We’d argue that most V-Class drivers will leave this feature alone for the most part, mind you.

What’s the Mercedes-Benz V-Class like to drive?

One of the biggest compliments that you could pay to the V-Class driving experience is that, off the bat, it doesn’t feel like a van to drive. The raised-up seating position feels a touch more SUV than regular car, we’ll admit, but the light steering and impressive lack of noise make for a quiet, effortless way of getting around.

  • Mercedes-Benz V-Class road test | The Van Expert

Parking requires a little more thought, but a suite of cameras and sensors mean that positioning the leviathan-sized Merc isn’t as much of a headache-causer as we’d expect.

It’s not quick, that’s for sure, but the four-cylinder diesel gets the van up to speed in good enough time. It’s reasonably grumbly under hard acceleration, and it certainly lacks the creamy edge that you get from some of the firm’s larger six-cylinder oil burners.

Verdict

The Mercedes-Benz V-Class certainly sits on the premium end of the people-moving segment, but it justifies its increased price with excellent build quality, a surprisingly refined driving experience and a frugal engine. It may not be quick, but this isn’t a performance-orientated offering after all.

Though other people carriers may match the V-Class for outright person-moving ability, few can rival its premium feeling and car-like driving style.

Similar vehicles

Citroën SpaceTourer | Ford Tourneo Custom | Peugeot Traveller | Renault Trafic Spaceclass | Toyota Proace Verso | Volkswagen Caravelle

Key specifications

Model as tested: Mercedes V 220 d AMG Line Long
Price (on-road): £61,275
Engine: 2.0-litre turbocharged diesel
Gearbox: Nine-speed automatic
Power: 163 hp
Torque: 380 Nm
Top speed: 121 mph
0-60 mph: 10.9 seconds
Fuel economy (combined): 47 mpg
CO2 emissions: 162 g/km

Jack Evans
Jack Evans
Articles by Jack Evans are provided for The Van Expert by PA Media (formerly the Press Association), including news, new LCV reviews and other automotive features.

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