The Mercedes-Benz Viano people-mover has been renamed the V-Class. The model has a new name, a new engine line-up and a sleek new interior. It’s just a pity that we won’t be seeing it in SA for a while…
We recently had an opportunity to drive the new Mercedes-Benz V-Class at the vehicle’s international launch in Hamburg, Germany. Now, if the V-Class name isn’t ringing any bells, that’s because it is a new moniker. But the V-Class itself isn’t a completely new vehicle.
Mercedes-Benz’s Viano people-mover has been renamed the V-Class to bring it in line with the rest of the company’s vehicle range. More importantly, though, it has also been updated and now sports the same sort of design cues as the new S-Class, C-Class and M-Class.
There is no doubt that, like its predecessor, the V-Class will be sold mostly to companies looking to shuttle people around in comfort. But while it may be used for a utilitarian function, it certainly isn’t a utilitarian vehicle.
CUSHY IN THE BACK
The V-Class is very plush. The seats are comfortable and all the finishes look of high quality. According to Mercedes, the cabin also boasts unprecedented levels of quiet for its class. Noise, vibration and harshness levels are kept to an absolute minimum, providing what Mercedes calls that “welcome home” feeling.
Also unique in this class of vehicle is the Thermotronic automatic climate control system, which is available as an option in addition to the standard Tempmatic system. It has various ventilation modes to offer individual climate control. The Focus, Medium and Diffuse climate modes have distinct settings for airflow and distribution.
In addition, the Thermotronic system features automatic pre-entry climate control at the touch of a button on the vehicle key, an integral demisting sensor and distribution of cooled air to the driver and front passenger sides, the intensity of which is automatically controlled by the position of the sun!
Equally unique is the “tunnel detection feature” with self-activating air recirculation. The climate control system uses the map information from the navigation system and the GPS location data to close the air recirculation flap automatically when the vehicle enters a tunnel, and re-open it when the vehicle emerges from the tunnel. Very clever stuff!
Predictably, the seating in the rear allows numerous configurations. As standard, the MPV is equipped with four individual luxury seats with armrests in two seat rows. Alternatively, a two-passenger bench seat with two-piece, individually folding backrest, or a three-passenger bench seat with two-piece seat cushion and three-piece backrest are available for both rear rows.
CLEVER IN THE FRONT
While the focus is obviously on shuttling rear seat occupants in comfort, the front of the V-Class is surprisingly modern and impressive. In a lot of ways, the dashboard of the V-Class resembles those of the new M-Class or C-Class. Once again, materials seem durable, elegant and high-quality. Nappa leather is even available for the seats, steering wheel and shift lever.
Other highlights include the free-standing central display, a multifunction steering wheel with 12 buttons and Direct Select lever with steering wheel shift paddles for automatic models. It also has an innovative touchpad, which allows all telematic functions to be operated by means of gestures or by entering characters in the same way as one does on a smartphone.
The latest generation of Mercedes-Benz’s Comand Online combines all audio, telephone and navigation functions and additionally offers an internet browser, the Linguatronic voice control system and transmission of traffic data in real time.
The optional Burmester surround sound system, with 16 high-performance loudspeakers, including a bass reflex loudspeaker, delivers “the perfect listening experience”. It provides exceptional sound, and in combination with Comand Online allows technically supported front-to-rear voice amplification.
To improve communication, a microphone in the overhead control panel transmits conversations between the driver and front passenger to the rear loudspeakers so that the passengers sitting further away can also hear.
BURLY UNDER THE BONNET
The V-Class will apparently be available with three different engine options – all 2,1-litre four-cylinder oilburners but in different states of tune.
The first, the V 200 CDI, develops 100kW of power and 330Nm of torque. The second, the V 220 CDI, develops 120kW and 380Nm of torque. The real star of the show, though, is the V 250 BlueTEC, which offers 140kW of power and 440Nm of torque.
Interestingly, the 250 also has something called “over-torque”. During acceleration, an additional 10kW and 40Nm of torque is made available by the engine, pushing performance to 150kW and 480Nm of torque. Consequently, the 250 can sprint from 0-100 km/h in 9,1 seconds – very impressive for a four-cylinder MPV.
The V 250 BlueTEC is equipped as standard with Mercedes-Benz’s 7G-Tronic Plus. The other models have a manual shifter but can be fitted with the 7G-Tronic as an option.
According to Mercedes, the V-Class requires as little as six litres of diesel fuel per 100km – 28% less than the six-cylinder — while maintaining the same standard of performance.
ON THE HORIZON
The V-Class really does move the MPV segment to the next level, offering the sort of comfort and performance you’d expect to find in a luxury SUV.
The sad news, however, is that we won’t be seeing the V-Class in SA for a while. The vehicle officially goes on sale in May, but according to Mercedes-Benz SA, it won’t be available here until the second quarter of 2015. This is why engine options and specifications planned for SA are still sketchy, so we’ll just have to wait and see. One thing is certain, though — the V-Class will be worth the wait.