By Steve Berry
WHEN celebrities require luxury transport for themselves and their entourage, they often choose between two models from the Mercedes-Benz stable: The S-Class or the V-Class, with the V-Class becoming ever-more popular thanks to its peerless comfort and space combo for up to eight people.
It works very well in the ‘real’ world too thanks to its drivability and practicality. The seating configurations alone are impressive and then there’s the Marco Polo version for those who literally want everything – including the kitchen sink (and a place to sleep).
2019 has seen a facelifted version of the V-Class introduced along with the option of a 239 bhp diesel engine.
I’ve been trying out the V-Class 220d AMG Line ‘Long’ model – with eight seats as standard – although I suspect the standard-length AMG-Line will be the best-selling as it has just the right amount of equipment and comfort for the money.
As you would expect for such a prestigious MPV they ain’t cheap, with the entry-level Sport model costing over £50,000 OTR.
You do get a heck of a lot for that outlay though, including a 2.0-litre, 163 bhp diesel unit, a nine-speed G-tronic automatic gearbox, 18in alloy wheels and genuine Nappa leather interior.
There’s also LED headlights and tail lights, high-gloss, dark ebony wood-look inside as well as plenty of creature comforts such as privacy glass, reversing camera, heated comfort seats up front and electric sliding doors on both sides of the vehicle.
Sat Nav is included along with an easy to use infotainment system. There’s also ambient light with a choice of colours, agility control comfort suspension and active parking assist.
AMG Line models (from £52,345 OTR) feature 19” alloy wheels and an AMG spoiler lip, plus AMG front apron, AMG rear apron with load sill guard in chrome and AMG side sill panels. Inside, Nappa leather seats are matched with carbon-look trim and air vents in chrome.
Seating configurations are immense depending on whether you go for Standard, Long or Extra Long but you can have six, seven or eight seats in up to three rows. You can also spec such luxuries as massaging heated and cooled seats in the second-row, temperature-controlled cup holders, double panoramic sunroof, a Burmester Surround Sound system and even a refrigerator. Cool.
Whichever model you choose you’ll find you have plenty of space to store those bits and pieces that always end up living in the car. The door bins are generous, as is the glove box and centre console cubby. If you need more space, look behind you – the V-Class is based on the Vito van after all.
In the rear, you’ll find up to six adults can sit in complete comfort on the longest of journeys, with their own vents and temperature controls as well as USB ports and, if you wish, 12v sockets.
It was just myself and Mrs B that took the 220d V-Class AMG Line to the beach at Southport. We’d packed it with picnic items and found folding the centre group of three seats forward made for a large and sturdy picnic table while we slid open both sets of side-doors and enjoyed some tunes from the surround sound system.
It may not be as user-friendly as the Marco Polo version when it comes to food and drink but the V-Class is very comfortable when it comes to parking up and putting your feet up for a while.
Getting to Southport was a joy too. The Mercedes V-Class handles extremely well for a van-based luxury MPV. The new nine-speed auto shifts smoothly and intelligently while the 163 bhp engine feels much quicker than its 0-60 mph time of 11.1 seconds would suggest.
It really doesn’t feel like you’re driving a large van – visibility is good and the reversing camera image is crystal clear. Sure, you can’t throw it around the A-roads like an S-Class but it’s not lethargic or clumsy either and I’ve driven less-rewarding SUVs when it comes to body-roll and turn-in ability.
Steering is precise if a little dull – but that goes for all vehicles of this type, including the VW Caravelle.
Engine refinement is very good indeed and extraneous noise generally is kept to a minimum making for a relaxed journey whether you’re sat up front, in the middle or at the back.
If you’re in the market for a prestigious people-carrier that won’t feel like a sardine can when fully-loaded then you can’t go wrong with the Mercedes V-Class. If you want it to also feel a little more sporty then go for the V300d.
It isn’t cheap, but when you see and feel the quality of finish that Mercedes have achieved in this people-carrier, you’ll be hard pushed to feel happy with anything else. Just listen to your inner-celebrity.
AT A GLANCE: Mercedes-Benz V-Class 220d AMG Line
OTR Price: £52,345
Engine: 2.0 twin-turbo diesel
Power: 163 bhp
Transmission: 9-speed Automatic
0-62mph: 11 secs
Top Speed: 121 mph
Combined Economy: 45.6 mpg
C02: 158 g/km