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 powerful 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.
Almost a decade on, the India development story continues however at an excellent quicker tempo. Companies are rising, individuals are on the transfer and the necessity to journey in fashion and luxury has by no means been better. 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 straight from Spain (the place it’s made) in small numbers. And if the demand is nice, the corporate will take into account regionally assembling the V-class at its Chakan plant. Nevertheless, the difficulty with utterly built-up (CBU) imports is that they appeal to 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 received 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. It is a large car in each dimension, which – together with the worth – units it a class aside. In reality, the slab-like proportions, towering top and flattish physique panels make the
V-class extra van than MPV. Vans include industrial car connotations, which (for apparent causes) Mercedes has tried to masks with a wise 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 enormous grille that elevate the V-class’ picture.
Total, 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 enormous households. So is the V-class versatile sufficient to change between boardroom and household room?
Let’s first begin up entrance. The driving force is immediately put comfy because of the lofty seating place which presents incredible visibility and spot-on ergonomics. The dashboard is sort 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 just like the C-class’, and the infotainment display is the small and relatively 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 newest options discovered on its newest sedan siblings. You do, nonetheless, get options like heated and cooled seats, two USB ports and an non-obligatory 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 might be simply accessed even in a good parking spot because of the electrically operated sliding doorways that open vast. From the within, the doorways might be opened or closed with a contact of a button by each the rear passengers and the motive force.
The flat ground and big 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 might 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 kind 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 proscribed as they’re pressed in opposition to the entrance seats. So with a very tall driver up entrance, there’s a little bit of jostling wanted to seek out the optimum place.
As a household automobile or luxurious people-mover, the V-class is finest used with all three rows going through the course of journey. Nevertheless, rotating the center row of seats by 180 levels is a cumbersome course of. The seats are heavy to raise and difficult to unlock and repair again onto their rails – one thing most house owners received’t have the persistence or talent to do. The simplest factor to do is ship the automobile to the seller 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 exterior visibility however the panoramic aspect home windows might do with a sunblind, at the very least 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’ll be able to’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 take advantage of the obtainable house. One other very helpful contact is the collapsible crates which when opened up are excellent to carry smaller objects in place to stop them from flying across the giant boot space. And, for those who take away the final two rows of seats, there’s sufficient house to move a pony. Area is one factor there isn’t a scarcity of within the V-class.
What’s it wish to drive?
A 163hp engine pulling a three,100kg car could seem insufficient on paper however, surprisingly, the two.1-litre diesel is sort of as much as the job even with all six seats occupied. Positive, you’re not going to be pinned again into your seats once you stamp on the throttle pedal, however the V 220d is pretty brisk and might crack the 100kph barrier from relaxation in underneath a claimed 11sec. What’s extra spectacular is the linear manner 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 occurring within the again. The very last thing passengers need is a sudden burst of acceleration which can 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 computerized 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 newest 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 experience too may be very plush by MPV requirements and aside from a little bit little bit of low-speed lumpiness this Merc, in true Merc vogue, merely smothers unhealthy roads. There’s a wee little bit of pitching and a few up and down motion when the street is admittedly unhealthy however, general, the V-class, which has adaptive dampers, is rather well composed and does a terrific job of not disturbing that ongoing assembly.
The large shock, nonetheless, is how simple the V-class is to deal with and isn’t within the least formidable to drive as its dimension would counsel. Sure, you do need to be aware of that bus-like size, particularly when dodging 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 offers you a way of management regardless of the good bit of physique roll by means 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 gives anyplace close to the identical stage of refinement consolation and luxurious. However then no different MPV prices something close to the V 220d both. As a standard 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 some other 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