What's the news?
Mercedes is updating the V-Class for 2019. Not sure what the V-Class is? Oh, you've been missing out. It's based on the Vito commercial van, but (as with Volkswagen's Caravelle) gets a high-class, high-comfort interior with lots of seats. Or, alternatively, it can be had as the Marco Polo camper van.
So, for this year, there's a round of updates to keep it feeling fresh. The biggest change is that the V-Class gets the latest 2.0-litre 'OM654' diesel engine, replacing the old (and noisier) 2.1-litre unit.
Fitted to the V 300 d model, that arrives with 239hp, fuel economy of up to 47mpg and CO2 emissions of 154g/km. Thanks to some high-tech fuel-saving additions, such as an ultra-smooth coating, called 'nanoslide', for the cylinder liners, the engine is around 13 per cent more fuel efficient than the previous model.
With 500Nm of torque (and an extra 30Nm on 'overboost') the V 300 d can sprint to 100km/h in 7.9 seconds, and has a top speed of 230km/h.
For the first time, Merc's latest-tech 9G-Tronic nine-speed automatic gearbox is available as an option. Oh, and that's not all. The V-Class will eventually get an all-electric version, as it comes under Mercedes' new eDrive@VANs policy. That's a way off yet, though.
On the outside, there's a new grille with the distinctive 'diamond' pattern inset, and a new front bumper with new air intakes. There are new paint colours, including Graphite grey metallic and Hyacinth red metallic, plus new 18-inch and 19-inch alloy wheel options.
Inside, there are new 'turbine' style air vents, an updated instrument pack and a new central infotainment screen, which comes with MercedesMe internet connectivity. There's the option of 'Tartufo' or 'Lugano' Nappa leather upholstery, and a mixture of satin wood, carbon fibre and brushed aluminium for the cabin trim. This is one heck of a posh van.
There's just as much comfort in the back, where the middle row of seats comes with (optionally) a fully reclining function, back massage and climate control.
Safety, as ever, is high up the Mercedes agenda. Crosswind Assist, which gently nudges the steering for you when coping with high winds, is standard. There's a new Active Brake Assist system too, which can now detect the risk of a collision with a vehicle driving in front and initially sounds a visual and acoustic warning. If the driver reacts, Active Brake Assist increases the brake pressure to help. If the driver fails to react, the system kicks in with autonomous braking. In urban traffic the Active Brake Assist also reacts to stationary obstacles or pedestrians crossing.
There's also highbeam assist for the LED headlights, and Attention Assist, which helps keep an eye out for a dozing driver.