The one-sentence review for the V-Class: It’s the Mercedes-Benz of vans. It transposes everything we like about the German brand’s cars into a vehicle that can carry up to eight passengers and their luggage.
It offers convenience in spades. The V-Class is easy to get in and out of, for any of the seating positions, thanks to large doors and a low floor. The seats in the rear compartment are supportive and comfortable. The second row can be ordered as a pair of captain’s chairs. They’re not quite the show-stopping armchairs of the Alphard, though—they’re more basic, with just slide-and-recline capability and folding armrests. A complex assembly sits in between, with a height-adjustable popup table suitable for working or having a large currywurst on the journey.
The third row is composed of three buckets that slide together, but can recline individually. A rail system enables the second and third rows to slide fore and aft. The rearmost bench can be spec’d as a two-seater as well, for more space. The passenger-cabin seats can even be set up to face each other. This Merc rides comfortably.
The suspension filters out bumps and potholes without floating like a barge. It’s a certainty that this vehicle will be chauffeur-driven most of the time, but in case the owner takes the wheel, he’ll be pleased that the V-Class responds well as a driver’s tool.
There’s a predictable handling feel that would have you believe you could drift the van around corners. That would be a stretch, no thanks to the two-ton curb weight and the extra-long wheelbase. You must be mindful not to clip the rear wheel on curbs—the hind rollers are much farther back than in other vans.
Like the E-Class, the V genuinely shines as transport. With all seats filled, there’s still enough space for everyone’s luggage. The rear compartment itself has a sturdy shelf that allows for two rows of bags. It also has collapsible plastic bins to store loose items. It has to be said that they gave the compartment much thought. It’s impressive, especially the first time you open the rear. Easily another selling point.
On the opposite end, a 2.2-liter diesel lies under the hood. Top-end power is limited, but there’s often no need to rev the engine hard. Maximum torque arrives early and is sufficient to move the van quickly. The transmission is a seven-speed automatic.
The Mercedes gets a handsome front end consistent with those of its stablemates: LED DRLs and swiveling headlamps, with a ‘sporty’ grille and the large three-pointed star in the center. There’s a small badge on the flanks that says Avantgarde, the highest trim level on a Mercedes save for the AMG versions. It’s an indication that the van is full of features and equipment, and indeed, it doesn’t disappoint.
The leather in the cabin is soft and compliant. The 640-watt, 15-speaker Burmester sound system merits mention, too. The superb audio is the finishing touch.
SPECS: Mercedes-Benz V220 CDI Avantgarde
Engine: 2.1-liter DOHC I4
Power: 163hp @ 3,800rpm
Torque: 380Nm @ 1,400-2,400rpm
Transmission: 7-speed automatic
IMAGE Ian Magbanua
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