Mercedes-Benz reveals new V-classThu, 30 Jan 2014 00:00:00 -0800
Mercedes-Benz has returned to the luxury MPV ranks with a resurrection of the V-class – the commercial vehicle based multiseat van first introduced to the German car maker’s lineup in 1996.
Positioned as an upmarket rival to the likes of the popular Volkswagen Multivan, the new V-class was conceived and developed in a joint-engineering program with the third-generation Vito, which it will be produced with at Mercedes-Benz’s Vitoria factory in Spain.
Set to go on sale in Europe shortly after its public debut at the Geneva auto show in early March, the V-class is being considered for sale in the U.S. as an indirect replacement for the R-class. Nothing is official, although officials have indicated to Autoweek that any introduction would be a while off.
The V-class replaces the Viano, although it has been given a much more individual character than its predecessor. It features contemporary exterior styling touches that visually link it with other Mercedes-Benz passenger car models, as well as a genuinely luxurious cabin boasting a high-quality dashboard. It comes with contemporary features such as the German car maker’s latest Command infotainment system with an optional 8.5-inch color monitor and touchpad-control system, as seen on the latest C-class.
The design of the dashboard and choice of materials used in the front is particularly noteworthy in a class not renowned for style or quality. Continuing the look first established on the latest S-class, it can be dressed up with matte-finish wooden trim and napa leather upholstery, giving the V-class a true upmarket feel. Six airbags are offered as part of the standard safety kit.
“It was a case of coming up with something completely new rather than upgrading a functional interior after the fact,” said Kai Sieber, head of design for Mercedes-Benz vans. “We wanted to give our MPV real passenger-car character and appeal,” “
In a move aimed at extending its appeal beyond typical family-car buyers, Mercedes-Benz will offer the V-class with both a standard 125.9-inch wheelbase and optional 135-inch extended wheelbase. Two different rear overhangs are available, providing scope for an extension of the luggage capacity behind the third row of seats. It measures 31.5 inches as standard and 41.1 inches in optional long rear overhang guise. Helping to extend versatility is a separate opening rear screen that allows you to store items without the need to open the large tailgate.
Buyers can choose between three body sizes, with either a single curbside rear-sliding door or two rear-sliding doors. The new Mercedes-Benz MPV measures 192.7 inches in length in its shortest form, 203.5 inches in long form and 211.4 inches in extra-long form. With a nominal height of 74 inches, it can be driven into multistory car parks, car washes and standard-sized garages, according to Mercedes-Benz.
Mercedes-Benz’s versatile new luxury MPV will be sold with a standard two-plus-two-plus-two layout, providing individual seating for up to six occupants. The front seats are electrically adjustable and can be ordered with a swivel function providing 50 degrees of outward travel and 180 degrees of inward travel.
A wide range of optional seating layouts are offered, including a two-plus-three-plus-three arrangement that increases seating capacity to eight. Buyers can also specify what Mercedes-Benz describes as a luxury-sleeper option, in which the rearmost seat folds to form a bed measuring either 76 inches in length for the standard wheelbase variant or 79.9 inches in extended-wheelbase guise.
The V-class is powered by Mercedes-Benz’s familiar turbocharged 2.1-liter four-cylinder diesel engine in three different states of tune: 136 bhp in the V200 CDI, 163 bhp in the V220 CDI and 190 bhp in the range topping V250 BlueTec. The latter packs a nominal 325 lb-ft of torque (354 lb-ft in overboost), and it is fitted with a urea-injection system to cut nitrous-oxide emissions and to provide EU6 emission-regulation compatibility.
The V200CDI and V220 CDI come standard with a six-speed manual gearbox. The V250 BlueTec receives a standard seven-speed automatic that comes with an optional Agility Select function, which alters the mapping of the engine, throttle and gearbox to provide four different driving modes: economy, comfort sport and manual. Mercedes-Benz puts the 0-62 mph between 9.1 seconds and 13.8 seconds, while combined cycle consumption varies from 38.5 mpg (U.S.) to a best of 41.9 mpg (U.S.) on the European test cycle.
Mercedes-Benz has provided the new V-class with many of its latest safety and driver-assistant systems, although the majority are set to come as options on models destined for the U.K. Among the standard equipment is Crosswind Assist and fatigue-detecting Attention Assist. Nine additional systems--including Active Parking Assist, Blind Spot Assist, Collision Prevention Assist, Distronic Plus cruise control, Lane Keeping Assist, Traffic Sign Assist with a wrong way warning system, Pre-Safe Adaptive Highbeam Assist and LED Intelligent Light System--can be ordered extra.
Mercedes-Benz hopes the second-generation V-class will appeal to R-class owners seeking the everyday versatility, seating capacity and space of an MPV. The R-class was discontinued in Europe in 2013 following disappointing sales. It continues to be produced at Mercedes-Benz factory in Tuscaloosa, Ala., but only for the Chinese market, where it is sold exclusively in long-wheelbase guise.
By Greg Kable