Subtle but significant aesthetic tweaks have been applied to the facelifted V-Class. Picture: SUPPLIED
Subtle but significant aesthetic tweaks have been applied to the facelifted V-Class. Picture: SUPPLIED

For those who don’t know, Mercedes-Benz has an equally rich heritage of making cargo and passenger minibuses as they do cars.

The 2019 version of the V-Class evokes the memory of the AMG MB 100 D, built between 1988 and 1995. AMG got hold of a few units of the carrier known as the “Igor” and peformed its magic way before the performance wing was drafted into the automotive conglomerate.

AMG-specific front-spoiler bumper, side sills, fender extensions and rear valance gave the transporter a head-turning appearance and better road balance. Its cabin was extensively treated with luxury amenities, including a folding table.

The appearance of the latest V-Class with an AMG Line continues this little-known tradition. The front end of the facelifted bus has been tapered more and reshaped with a different bumper design, with the wider jowls you find in current Mercedes ranges.

Standard models remain handsome, with the typical Mercedes-Benz double-frame wing grille, but AMG Line gets the brand’s famous “diamond radiator grille” and acres of chrome.

It’s available standard with a Sports Exterior Package, with a gaping air-dam and regular alloy wheels, or in Avantgarde Sport Exterior Package, with differently styled alloys and chrome on the edges of the front bumper and surrounding the massive glass area.

Black Santos cloth upholstery is standard fitment, while five other schemes that include a truffle (brown) or cream beige Nappa leather can be optioned for the cabin. The arrangement is a pair of individual seats upfront, two for the middle row and a three-passenger rear bench installed as standard.

The cabin can be configured in many ways, from typical three per row or the aircraft business-style individual seats. Picture:SUPPLIED
The cabin can be configured in many ways, from typical three per row or the aircraft business-style individual seats. Picture:SUPPLIED

It can also be ordered in a configuration that fits six or eight passengers in total by omitting the middle chair at the rear or by adding a middle seat in the second row. A seat rail system enables benches and seats to be moved longitudinally or face-to-face positioning in six-seater guise.

There a range of trim element options, including a brushed-aluminium look, and piano lacquer or carbon-fibre in the AMG Line. Equipment includes seat belts for all seats, a full-length but partitioned sun roof, ambient lighting, a mini-table in the centre and a Burmester sound system operated out of a non-MBUX interface.

With a length of 5,140mm and a height of 1,920mm, the V-Class is rated with 1,030l of loading space with eight seats propped up. Should you want to pack more than just luggage for eight, it’s rated to pull 2,000kg more using a braked trailer or 750kg hauling an unbraked one. It’s incredibly functional and the span of the roof rails allows for the carrying of more cargo in roof boxes. It’s no wonder it’s the preferred MPV for the affluent.

SHOULD YOU WANT TO PACK MORE THAN JUST LUGGAGE FOR EIGHT, IT’S RATED TO PULL 2,000KG USING A BRAKED TRAILER.

And if you think everyone except the driver enjoys the perks of being shuttled in the V-Class, you’d be wrong. Nothing beats the joy of being driven safely and luxuriously while able to fully stretch legs on the move. However, Mercedes-Benz has built this bus for driver enjoyment too, as I discovered during my turn behind the wheel. The seating position can be both high or low, dependent on preferences, and the chair itself feels crafted for comfort on long and short distances.

Steering is effortless and fairly accurate for threading a rear-wheel-drive bus on sweeping bends or in built-up areas, and the four-cylinder diesel engine puts out 100kW/330Nm in the V200d guise, 120kW/380 Nm for the V220d, and the top model V250d, which I drove at the launch, has outputs of 140kW/440Nm.

And because safety is paramount in such a vehicle, the V-Class gets a comprehensive suite of the MB world’s electronic safety nets, from traction control, adaptive cruise control, Attention Assist, Crosswind Assist and Active Parking Assist with a 360° camera on board. High Beam Assist Plus and Active Brake Assist are new additions to the safety net. The latter feature detects risk of a collision with a vehicle ahead, stationary obstacles or crossing pedestrians, and initiates a warning bong or automatically deploys evasive braking manoeuvres.

To sweeten the juice, Mercedes-Benz Vans SA is offering all V-Class facelift customers a limited special complimentary top-up to a six-year/100,000km maintenance plan instead of the standard five-year/100,000km maintenance plan.


Pricing

V200 d — R913,951

V220 d — R955,518

V250 d — R1,027,686

V220 d Avantgarde — R1,247,819

V250 d Avantgarde — R1,292,474

AMG Line kit — R55,413


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