Mercedes-Benz India has all the time had its eye on the luxurious finish of the minivan market, which continues to be an empty and elusive area of interest. It’s a phase that Mercedes has had a crack at twice earlier than, however with little success. In 1999, it launched the SsangYong-built MB100 and MB140 minivans, imported from Korea. Although the MB vans had been fairly robust and sturdy they didn’t supply the luxurious and high quality worthy of the three-pointed star and, consequently, they quietly died in 2001. In 2011, Mercedes launched the R-class however as soon as once more this MPV failed to drag in prospects on account of its unconventional design (for a Merc). Additionally, the shortage of a diesel engine at launch (unthinkable for an MPV purchaser on the time) ensured that it was just about lifeless on arrival.
Practically a decade on, the India development story continues however at a good sooner tempo. Companies are rising, persons are on the transfer and the necessity to journey in fashion and luxury has by no means been larger. This state of affairs is an opportune time for Mercedes-Benz to deliver the V-class into showrooms however will or not it’s third-time fortunate? Can Mercedes make its newest minivan stick in a phase that has eluded the corporate all these years? These are questions Mercedes doesn’t fairly but have the solutions to and is therefore testing the waters by importing the V-class immediately from Spain (the place it’s made) in small numbers. And if the demand is sweet, the corporate will think about regionally assembling the V-class at its Chakan plant. Nevertheless, the difficulty with utterly built-up (CBU) imports is that they entice punitive duties and that may knock costs into the stratosphere.
One benefit of sourcing the V-class from Spain is that the decrease value of manufacturing there, in comparison with Germany, interprets to a cheaper price, which in flip reduces the knock-on impact of the excessive customs duties on CBUs. Nonetheless, taking that profit into consideration, the V-class isn’t low cost and prices Rs 68.40 lakh for the Expression trim and the Unique model examined right here is even pricier at Rs 81.90 lakh. So must you be paying a lot for a minivan, even when it’s bought a three-pointed star on its grille? Let’s see how far your cash goes.
That this minivan has not-so-mini proportions is instantly apparent the second you come inside 5 toes of it. This can be a large automobile in each dimension, which – together with the worth – units it a class aside. In reality, the slab-like proportions, towering peak and flattish physique panels make the
V-class extra van than MPV. Vans include industrial automobile connotations, which (for apparent causes) Mercedes has tried to masks with a sensible set of alloy wheels, shiny metallic paint and a nostril that would belong to any Merc. Little question it’s the entrance finish with the properly detailed headlights, sculpted bumpers and huge grille that elevate the V-class’ picture.
General, it’s a smart-looking van but it surely’s a van nonetheless, derived from the industrial Viano’s front-wheel-drive platform. Nevertheless, this platform – which is underpinned with sturdy mechanicals and an effectively packaged suspension system of MacPherson struts up entrance and trailing arms on the rear – has its personal set of advantages, with house being the most important one in every of them.
The V-class is available in two physique sizes – the usual size, which is 5,140mm, will get a 2+2+2 seating configuration, whereas the extra-long 5,370mm model will get a 2+2+three structure which will increase seating capability to seven passengers.
The six-seater model we’re testing is extra for private and company use and is geared toward CEOs and huge households. So is the V-class versatile sufficient to modify between boardroom and household room?
Let’s first begin up entrance. The motive force is immediately put comfy because of the lofty seating place which presents incredible visibility and spot-on ergonomics. The dashboard is kind of plush with leather-based all spherical, and the general atmosphere and structure makes you are feeling such as you’re in an everyday Merc sedan and never a 5-metre-plus-long MPV. In reality, the old-school dials are much like the C-class’, and the infotainment display is the small and moderately outdated 7.Zero-inch COMAND unit. Talking of outdated, the engine too is the previous-gen OM651 2.1-litre unit, which has been upgraded to BS-VI spec. So whereas there’s no stinting on high quality, the V-class doesn’t get the most recent options discovered on its newest sedan siblings. You do, nevertheless, get options like heated and cooled seats, two USB ports and an elective 15-speaker Burmester audio system.
If the entrance row is enterprise class, then the second and third rows supply first-class journey. The principle cabin could be simply accessed even in a decent parking spot because of the electrically operated sliding doorways that open large. From the within, the doorways could be opened or closed with a contact of a button by each the rear passengers and the driving force.
The flat flooring and large quantity of headroom make it handy for passengers to maneuver round within the cabin and the seats themselves have beneficiant quantities of journey. Within the Unique model, the pair of center row seats could be rotated to face the third row, which is a perfect configuration when conducting conferences on the transfer. The forward-facing seats within the third row have particular person fold-out trays that may slide ahead, and with each open, they type a desk like in a mini convention room. Nevertheless, going through passengers should watch their toes to keep away from kicking one another. Additionally, the journey of the rearward going through seats is restricted as they’re pressed in opposition to the entrance seats. So with a extremely tall driver up entrance, there’s a little bit of jostling wanted to search out the optimum place.
As a household automobile or luxurious people-mover, the V-class is greatest used with all three rows going through the path of journey. Nevertheless, rotating the center row of seats by 180 levels is a cumbersome course of. The seats are heavy to elevate and tough to unlock and repair again onto their rails – one thing most homeowners received’t have the persistence or ability to do. The best factor to do is ship the automobile to the vendor the place a educated technician can change the seats round in a jiffy.
The seating place is spot on with its excessive ‘H-point’ and nice outdoors visibility however the panoramic aspect home windows may do with a sunblind, a minimum of as an possibility. The factor is, not one of the six seats supply distinctive consolation; the general seat cushioning is flat and laborious and also you don’t sink into them such as you would in an E-class. You may’t recline the seat simply both because it fouls with the rear parcel tray. There are bottle holders and sufficient cubbyholes to retailer stuff, however you get simply two 12V sockets to cost your gadgets. There’s no AC output to cost your laptop computer and no USB ports within the again both.
The split-opening tailgate swings upwards to disclose a low loading lip and two-tier baggage space, which helps you to profit from the out there house. One other very helpful contact is the collapsible crates which when opened up are good to carry smaller gadgets in place to forestall them from flying across the massive boot space. And, in the event you take away the final two rows of seats, there’s sufficient house to move a pony. House is one factor there isn’t any scarcity of within the V-class.
What’s it wish to drive?
A 163hp engine pulling a three,100kg automobile could appear insufficient on paper however, surprisingly, the two.1-litre diesel is kind of as much as the job even with all six seats occupied. Positive, you’re not going to be pinned again into your seats whenever you stamp on the throttle pedal, however the V 220d is pretty brisk and might crack the 100kph barrier from relaxation in beneath a claimed 11sec. What’s extra spectacular is the linear method through which it builds energy and that’s essential for a automobile that must be pushed easily and seamlessly, particularly if there’s a heated board assembly taking place within the again. The very last thing passengers need is a sudden burst of acceleration which is able to ship their information and papers flying throughout the cabin.
Overtaking, particularly on the freeway isn’t as easy although and also you do must override the smooth-shifting 7-speed automated gearbox with fast tugs of the paddles for extra urgency. This isn’t an engine that likes to be revved both, and, in contrast to the smoother OM654 2.Zero-litre seen on the most recent Mercs, it has a gruff be aware past four,000rpm.
That’s to not say refinement is a matter. In reality, pushed sedately, the V 220d is pretty hushed with little wind and street noise. The journey too may be very plush by MPV requirements and other than just a little little bit of low-speed lumpiness this Merc, in true Merc style, merely smothers unhealthy roads. There’s a wee little bit of pitching and a few up and down motion when the street is de facto unhealthy however, total, the V-class, which has adaptive dampers, is very well composed and does an ideal job of not disturbing that ongoing assembly.
The massive shock, nevertheless, is how simple the V-class is to deal with and isn’t within the least formidable to drive as its dimension would recommend. Sure, you do must be aware of that bus-like size, particularly when dodging site visitors, however you’ll be amazed how shortly you adapt to the automobile’s gigantic dimensions.
It’s remarkably secure on the freeway too, and the electro-mechanical steering (borrowed from the C-class) has a reassuring heft to it and provides you a way of management regardless of the good bit of physique roll by way of corners.
Must you purchase one?
Sure, it’s a Mercedes; sure, it’s constructed to a excessive commonplace, and sure, there’s no different MPV or minivan that provides anyplace close to the identical degree of refinement consolation and luxurious. However then no different MPV prices something close to the V 220d both. As a traditional six-seater MPV, it’s laborious to justify the worth, particularly when for a similar cash you possibly can get three top-end Innova Crystas and a few change. Little question it is overpriced for what you get, however you’re paying a premium for what you don’t get in another MPV. If something, it’s solely the sheer house and the distinctive seating configurations the V-class presents that may considerably justify its value.
In dialog with Martin Schwenk, MD and CEO, Mercedes-Benz India video