Mercedes-Benz V-Class review
It's not cheap, but the new Mercedes V-Class people carrier is worth every cent.
Shane O' Donoghue
Shane O' Donoghue
Pics by Shane O' Donoghue

Published on January 5, 2016

Good: huge space and flexibility, refined, good to drive

Not so good: quite expensive, looks like a (posh) van

The Mercedes-Benz V-Class is, in essence, a posh van. Admittedly, the version that's on the Irish press fleet is particularly posh, in V 220 Avantgarde specification. It comes as standard with auto lights and wipers, electric folding door mirrors, Bluetooth, USB connectivity, front and rear air conditioning, an eight-inch colour display screen and tasteful 18-inch alloy wheels. The long wheelbase V 220 with an automatic transmission costs from €63,965. To that little lot Mercedes Ireland added a three-seat rear bench (two seat are standard), 360-degree parking pack, swish Comand satnav, an exterior Sports Pack and other upgrades inside the cabin to life the ambience further. The damage? An eye-watering €80,292 as tested. Ok, ok, you don't need to go the whole five-star hotel shuttle specification, as prices start at €52,390, but once you've experienced the V-Class as it is here you'll not want it any other way.

It's pretty good no matter which of the seven leather-upholstered seats you're occupying, with more legroom than most airliner business class pews and far better visibility through the large windows. In spite of the commercial vehicle roots of the V-Class (it shares a lot with the Mercedes Vito van), the passenger version has a far less workmanlike dashboard and much of the switchgear will be familiar to a C-Class driver. The steering wheel is a lovely tactile leather-trimmed affair and it features all the usual buttons to control the trip computer, infotainment, etc. The swooping fascia behind, meanwhile, houses well-damped controls for the zoned climate control, while the rotary 'Comand' controller in the middle falls easily to hand and even accepts highly intuitive 'swipe' inputs to control the high-mounted colour screen above. So far, so good.

Even with seven well-fed people on board there's a huge amount of space for luggage behind and it's divided in two so there's no need to stack up the cases to use all the space. For the record, it holds 1,030 litres of stuff, which, to put that into words you'll understand, is 'a lot'. There's plenty of other storage space within the main cabin, though we discovered that there's nowhere high up and easily within reach to store your phone, for example. I bet it's not like that in the proper van version...

Thankfully, that's not the only thing that's un-van-like in the V-Class. Once on the move you'll discover refinement that is at odds with the LCV background, yet completely in keeping with the leather-lined passenger space. The diesel engine thrum is kept at bay to an acceptable level and there's not too much in the way of wind or road noise either. If you fill the V-Class up to the gunwales you may find the 2.1-litre turbodiesel engine's 163hp and 380Nm of torque 'adequate', but once the passengers have been dropped off at the airport with their luggage you'll find it quite sprightly.

They'll have felt comfortable and cosseted for the most part, except perhaps over lateral ridges in the road, which can catch out the suspension, but there's a surprise in store for the person behind the wheel, in that the V-Class is remarkably good fun to hustle along. The driving controls are well-weighted, the long wheelbase gives it stability and the view out lets you plan well in advance.

But is the V-Class for those that don't 'plan' in advance in terms of family? No, we think not. While any large family would adore the big Merc and make full use of it, it's an expensive way to seat seven. The V-Class is destined to shuttle clients to and from the airport and posh hotels we reckon. A suitable vocation for a posh van we feel.


Ford Tourneo Connect: Much cheaper to buy, but nowhere near as stylish or luxurious.

SsangYong Rodius: The only other similar car we could think of - horrible.

Volkswagen Caravelle: The only true rival for the V-Class and equally expensive, but not as good to drive.