- V-Class dash isn’t remotely like the Vito van’s…
- But the driving position feels like a commercial vehicle
- C-Class-esque controls and interior styling abound
Climb aboard and you’ll be met with an impressive view. The V-Class’s forebears have been lumbered with the van versions’ dashboards tarted up with some appliques and a broader spectrum of coloured plastic, but this is altogether different.
It borrows a similar layout and design to that seen in the C-Class and GLC ranges, along with a suite of its solid-feeling switchgear. The curving dashtop – which is finished in a leather-look material – flows neatly into the doors and feels far more grown-up and civilised than a van-based vehicle has any right to.
This was great in 2015 when the V-Class first appeared, but soon after Mercedes ushered-in its sleeker, dual-screen arrangement – it looks far fresher and modern, although it isn’t to everyone’s tastes, and it makes the big MPV’s dashboard look old hat. Even the 2019 facelift only offered minor revisions with a different design of air vent and new gauges, which themselves could be replaced by a digital screen inset into the binnacle.
But, those gripes aside, the only real aspect that remains as a reminder of its commercial vehicle origins is the driving position, which, while comfortable, is high and upright. You can never kid yourself you’re piloting an SUV as you’re even higher than most of them are.
Quality is good – but will buyers expect more at this price?
While the C-Class-alike interior is a sound basis, it’s worth remembering that the V-Class’s pricing places it alongside the higher echelons of the E-Class range. At this point it underwhelms a little, as it doesn’t feel quite upmarket enough in terms of material quality. Still, it’s night and day compared with the angular, hard plastic facade that Vito drivers face.
The leather-clad steering wheel is comfortable to hold and features many of the controls required to operate the car’s numerous multimedia menus and the central information display screen between the main instruments.
Thanks to electric seat controls borrowed from the C-Class, it’s easy to get comfortable behind the wheel – which is also adjustable for reach and angle.
Although the view outside is excellent thanks to the enormity of the windows, the windscreen pillars are very chunky. Yes, there’s a small triangle of glass ahead of the front doors in traditional MPV style, but in all honesty they’re more to the benefit of exterior design as you can see precious little out of them from the driver’s seat.
- A fantastic long-distance cruiser
- Space and comfort for up to eight adults
- Multi-zone climate control is effective
Considering its Vito van-based origins, Mercedes-Benz V-Class comfort is surprisingly good. There’s little of the crashing, banging and rattling around over surface changes as found in many rivals, with Mercedes claiming that a stiffer bodyshell reduces the vibrations that make their way into the cabin while adjustable dampers adds to its pliancy.
The ride quality is particularly impressive at speed, with the V-Class managing to float gently over most road imperfections with an ease akin to Mercedes’ executive saloons – although it has to be noted that with just the driver in the car the V-Class feels less well planted.
Thanks to best-in-class aerodynamics wind noise is rarely an issue, despite door mirrors the size of spades and those thick windscreen pillars mentioned earlier.
More obvious is engine noise under hard acceleration, particularly from those older motors, and the tyre roar; both are particularly prominent when there are few people in the car and the vast cabin acts like a mobile echo chamber. The resonance encountered when driving on sections of concrete motorway quickly becomes tiresome, too.
The seats are leather clad, with the front ones electrically adjustable and heated for a fee. Integral armrests ensure you feel suitably hemmed in, while those in the rear are equally sumptuous and adult-sized.
Middle row seats – whether you have the three-seater bench or the pair of captain’s chairs – can face forwards or backwards, while all of the back seats can be slid around on floor-mounted rails.
The seats also fold forwards and can be reclined, although if you intend to remove them in order to make use of those van-like internal dimensions then you’d best get a few workout sessions at the gym under your belt first.
From the second half of 2019 there will be a pair of even more luxurious middle row seats available that feature electric controls, in-built footrests, heating and air-conditioned cooling, plus sumptuous headrest pillows as seen in the S-Class.
Opt for the Burmester upgraded speaker system and you’ll benefit further from a voice amplification system that ensures the driver can hold a civilised conversation on the move with those in the rearmost set of seats – and vice versa.
Climate control is available in all three rows, with a separate temperature control for the rear compartment and four roof-mounted vents. Even on hot days it soon cools down the cabin, although with such a large volume of air to chill it is invariably noisy for the first few minutes until the desired temperature is closer to being reached.
Ventilation can be improved further by opting to have to have the side windows open at their trailing edges, rather than winding down like the glass on the front doors. There’s an aesthetic downside of this arrangement as the chrome-look strip along the base of the windows is deleted, making the V-Class look more van-like as a consequence.