Mercedes V-Class review
The Mercedes V-Class replaces the Viano in the brand's line-up, offering big eight-seater MPV practicality
The Mercedes V-Class is the brand's replacement for the old Viano MPV, and it's bigger than ever. With eight seats and a van-like shape it shares with the Mercedes Vito van it’s based on, the modern V-Class is one of the most practical cars on the road.
Despite its commercial vehicle origins, the V-Class brings the MPV up to date with the other new models in the Mercedes range such as the C-Class and S-Class. Like those models it's packed with the latest technology.
It's faster, more economical and has a higher level of standard equipment than its main MPV rival, the Volkswagen Caravelle. It is expected to cost more than the equivalent VW when it goes on sale but you do get a full set of the latest Mercedes safety tech included.
You can choose between two different lengths, and three individual seat combinations in the V-Class. The standard car comes with four individual leather seats in the back, with a no-cost option to switch to a two- or three-seat bench instead.
Mercedes V-Class buyers probably aren't expecting their new model to look as good as the latest sports cars and so it proves. Since the V-Class is a van-derived people carrier it inherits the boxy commercial vehicle shape and won’t be taking any awards home for its looks.
For a car of this type it has some nice features, however, with the new Mercedes family grille and prominent headlights giving it a distinctive look from the front. The large rear window does make the rear look quite droopy but the V-Class is available with some large alloy wheels to improve its profile.
The interior is the really important bit, and Mercedes has done rather well here – the V-Class gets a tablet-style central display, an intuitive touchpad controller and a smart two-piece floating dashboard design. It certainly looks the part, but just like the smaller Mercedes A-Class, there are some below-average plastics and rather flimsy build quality further back in the cabin.
The 2.1-litre diesel engine in the V-Class produces 187bhp and it's just as fast as the old 3.0-litre unit in the Viano. That means economy is up without sacrificing performance. The V-Class is actually pretty good in this department thanks to a brisk 0-62mph sprint time of just 9.1 seconds and 480Nm of torque available for overtaking. Work the engine hard, however, and it feels quite gruff, while the 7G-tronic automatic gearbox is showing its age.
With the Agility Select system fitted there are a handful of driving modes to choose from: Eco, Manual, Comfort and Sport. These change the throttle response and steering to suit your preference, but most will simply leave the car in Comfort mode, which best matches the car's nature. Eco mode is a bit too slow to be used all the time, while Sport mode is quick to change down into lower gears, which doesn't help economy.
It's very comfortable too, thanks to adaptive dampers that adjust to the road you're on, and the steering is light and easy to use in town as well. It still feels solid at high speed, however.
The diesel engine and automatic gearbox in the V-Class have been tried and tested in many Mercedes cars, so they should have had most of their problems ironed out. Mercedes managed a ninth-place finish in the list of the top manufacturers in the 2014 Driver Power survey too and that bodes well for the V-Class.
The V-Class hasn’t been crash-tested yet, but the previous Viano model scored four stars for adult protection when it was tested in 2008. The latest V-Class model is full of active safety tech so it should score higher than its predessesor when the NCAP testers get their hands on it.
The V-Class is available in two different lengths, with three seat layouts. The car comes with four chairs in the back as standard, but you can change that for a bench seat for two or three passengers at no cost.
Boot space can be increased using the sliding rear seats, and that means legroom can be improved as well if you're carrying more passengers than luggage.
There are some clever features that help make the V-Class as flexible as possible, too. For example, the glass rear hatch opens separately from the rest of the boot so you don’t have to spend ages finding a parking space big enough to swing open the huge tailgate. Plus, the sturdy parcel shelf comes with two collapsible shopping baskets to hold loose items firmly in place.
The Mercedes V250 BlueTec we tested is a strong performer when it comes to economy, with emissions of just 157g/km of CO2 and fuel economy of 47mpg. That's much better than the 36.7mpg you'll get from the equivelant VW Caravelle.
Those figures represent a 28 per cent improvement over the old Viano 3.0-litre V6 CDI model, too – so the new V-Class promises to be a class-leader when it comes to running costs.