Mercedes-Benz V 250 d: Welcome to Parkers

  • Enormous V-Class MPV joins Parkers’ long-term fleet
  • Van-based bodywork liberates masses of space
  • Yet it feels like a luxury car to be in and drive
  • Enormous V-Class MPV joins Parkers’ long-term fleet
  • Van-based bodywork liberates masses of space
  • Yet it feels like a luxury car to be in and drive

As a rule I’m not one for giving cars names. After all, the Mercedes-Benz V 250 d AMG Line Extra Long, which I’m the custodian of over the coming months, already has a perfectly conventional moniker – if one that hardly slinks seductively off the tongue – without me bestowing it with something twee/naff/cutesy (delete as applicable).

Yet, on account of its cetacean-like dimensions and Cavansite metallic paintwork, I find myself affectionately referring to it as the Blue Whale. That must make me its Ishmael, if I’m going to venture off on a Herman Melville-esque tangent… Which I won’t.

Erm… It looks like a van with windows

Although the V-Class is sold by Mercedes’ car division (and dealerships), there’s no escaping that this third-generation of MPV is van-based, sharing its underpinnings, and much of its bodywork and mechanical paraphernalia with the humble Vito commercial vehicle.

But unlike the first-generation V-Class – and the Viano that preceded this iteration – the latest model has been differentiated more than ever before so that it feels more car-like.

There’s little that can be done to hide its van-like origins – although its chamfered corners make it look as though it might have been squeezed out of a tube when compared with its most immediate rival, the sharper-edged Volkswagen Caravelle. At least the cabin feels suitably upmarket.

Up front it feels – and looks – not dissimilar to the C-Class, with a swoopy dashboard punctuated by circular air vents and Merc’s familiar tablet-like multimedia screen sat proud of the faux carbon-fibre applique.

Below is the rotary-and-touchpad multimedia control module that many upmarket Benzes feature, while the other switchgear feels suitably well-engineered and reassuringly familiar.

Cavernous interior

Access to the rear compartment is via two electrically operated sliding doors (controls for which are on the doors themselves, the pillars immediately behind the front passengers’ heads, within the pod for the multimedia controller and on the key), revealing space for five adults.

As standard there’d be two benches with space for six back there, but I opted for two captains’ chairs and a pop-up table instead – a zero-cost change when ordering a V-Class.

Those van-like dimensions allow tall passengers to sit comfortably even in row three, despite the roof gently tapering by this point, while the middle pair of seats can be faced rearwards in this lounge configuration, or unclipped to point in the direction of travel.

Measuring 5.37m nose to tail, the Extra Long body has an extended wheelbase compared with the shorter two V-Classes, yet this is more to the benefit of boot space than passenger comfort. With all seven seats in use there’s 1,410 litres of capacity, expanding to a, err, van-like 4,630 litres if all of the seats barring the front pair are removed.

Adequately powered

Don’t be fooled by the 250 aspect of this V-Class’s nomenclature, for under the short bonnet nestles Mercedes’ venerable – and clattery – 2.1-litre four-cylinder twin-turbo diesel. Maximum power’s a not-all-that-impressive 190hp, but in a 2,155kg leviathan like this its peak torque of 440Nm at just 1,400rpm is useful for getting up to speed briskly when pulling away from junctions.

Top speed’s officially quoted at 129mph, while the 0-62mph sprint is said to be a unshabby 9.1 seconds. Certainly its pace does catch out those who expect it to be an easy overtake when exiting roundabouts on dual-carriageways.

According to the stats it should average 44.8mpg but so far while I’ve been running it in gently it’s only mustered 29.4mpg.

No manual gearbox is offered in the UK, meaning the smooth-shifting seven-speed automatic, complete with its steering column-mounted lever is sensibly standardised. There’s a pair of wheel-mounted paddles if you want manual control.

Range-topping AMG Line trim

I’ll pore over the many intricacies of the flagship AMG Line specification in a future update, but suffice to say the differences over the entry-level Sport are minimal, and primarily superficial – so dampen any hopes you had that this is really a Mercedes-AMG V 63 pretending to be something more subdued. Could you imagine..?

Chief among the changes are a subtle bodykit – the gaping grilles in the front bumper are easier to spot than the sill extensions, tailgate spoiler and a (mock) rear diffuser.

Those black and machine-finished silver alloy wheels are 19-inchers (realising this enables you to appreciate how big the V-Class is) but thanks to the standard air suspension, the ride remains supple, especially with a few people in the back.

Inside the tell-tales are restricted to some chrome bezels for the four circular air-vents in the dash and that mock carbonfibre trim mentioned earlier.

Extras, extras…

I’ve also plundered Mercedes’ options list to reflect how V-Class buyers typically spec their cars – again, these will be explored in a forthcoming update – but two stand-out additions are the excellent Burmester surround sound speaker system (£675) and the invaluable 360-degree camera package. At £335 the four cameras are a no-brainer and make the V-Class significantly easier to park.

All of the optional extras bump the price of Parkers’ long-term V-Class from an already not inconsiderable £52,470 to £58,260. That’s significantly cheaper than a studio apartment in Kensington for almost as much space.

Early findings

So, nearly 1,000 miles in already and it’s proved to be faultless except for one gripe I’m already finding a tad tiresome: the fuel filler flap.

Not only does it betray its van origins further (you have to open the passenger door to release the flap) it’s situated too low down, making you stoop during diesel replenishment.

Either that or it makes you look like you’re scanning the forecourt floor for loose change (we’ve all been there, but it’s less sociably acceptable when bending over next to a 17-plate Merc).

Even so, the overriding first impressions are positive – let’s see if they remain so as much is asked of the V-Class over the coming months as we determine whether it really is the Mercedes-Benz of MPVs.

Overall mileage: 885 miles

Fuel economy: 29.4mpg (calculated)

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