Changes to the V-Class are minimal, including a slightly revised front grille and bumper. Picture: SUPPLIED
Changes to the V-Class are minimal, including a slightly revised front grille and bumper. Picture: SUPPLIED

When your big reveal is an MPV with a 20mm wider grille, then you have to have an ace up your sleeve, especially if you have flown motoring journalists in from all over the world for the occasion.

That ace is the new Mercedes-Benz EQV, a fully battery-electric version of the popular V-Class that will make its debut at the Geneva motor show  in March. With its official debut a month away, Mercedes slapped little stickers over cellphone lenses and hit us with an embargo of  March 5, so we can’t tell you much about it, let alone show you any pictures.

It will be the fifth model in Mercedes’s new EQ family, the first being the EQC SUV that will go on sale in SA in 2020. That will be followed by the EQA. The Stuttgart manufacturer is also developing two other EQ models to join them.

 The new V-Class will go on sale here in the third quarter of 2019, probably in August, a spokesperson for Mercedes-Benz Commercial Vehicles SA said.

 A chat with designer Bertrand Janssen reveals the V has undergone the mildest of facelifts. The chrome strip has been removed around the grille to make it 20mm larger and provide more cooling. The front bumper has been slightly revised and differs depending on whether you choose Avantgarde, Exclusive or AMG Line trim. Then there are new 19-inch rims and four new paint colours.

Inside there is a new  nappa leather option as well as a new fascia insert featuring a double pinstripe. The V-Class also gets the turbine-style air vents from the passenger cars.

Seating can be designed for family or luxury usage. Picture: SUPPLIED
Seating can be designed for family or luxury usage. Picture: SUPPLIED

There aren’t many cosmetic changes to the luxury MPV that was launched in 2014 with  more than 209,000 examples having been sold worldwide. However there is bigger news beneath the skin.

The V-Class will get the OM654 diesel engine from other models, pushing out up to 176kW and 600Nm, with 30Nm more available in overboost mode. It’s a four-cylinder diesel meeting the new Euro 6d emissions standard so as yet, Mercedes-Benz SA cannot confirm whether the engine will make it to SA in the revised model due to the usual concerns over fuel quality.

Rear-wheel drive will be standard although 4matic all-wheel drive is an option. If the OM654 does come to SA it will be available with the 9G-Tronic gearbox for the first time.

The V-Class will feature quite an extensive list of new safety systems, including lanekeeping assist, active brake assist, crosswind assist, blind spot assist and attention assist. It will also have pre-safe collision protection, active parking assist with reversing camera and Distronic Plus active cruise control.

The rest will be familiar with seating for up to eight people and the option of a full business-class experience courtesy of a reclining luxury seat. As before it has been designed and engineered to cater for a range of uses, from a family MPV to leisure use and VIP and tourist shuttles.

While the small MPV sector has been dying off in recent years, the larger MPVs, including what we might still call minibuses  such as the Mercedes Vito, Volkswagen Transporter and Ford Transit, continue to be popular with the right customers. The V-Class sits very much at the luxury end of the spectrum here and you can expect to see a few of them on the road when it arrives later in 2019.