The Mercedes-Benz V Class is the preferred choice for chauffeurs around the world, but the vehicle comes with a heafty price tag
There is no denying that Mercedes-Benz has struggled to distance its previous incarnation the Viano from being accused of just being “a van with window and seats”. The Viano was exactly the same shape as the Vito commercial van and even this was able to be converted into a people carrier for a fraction of the price of the top of the range Viano.
Keen to distance this comparison from its commercial van line, Mercedes has replaced the name and taken on the latest design features from the new S-Class launched in 2014 and the impressive C-Class to add more car-like features to the newly named V-Class. Once you jump into the drivers seat you can’t help but notice the new distinctive two-section dashboard design and the high quality seat materials and leather steering wheel – all of which are standard. The driver and front passenger also benefit from a four-way lumbar support for the first time along with active seat ventilation, a helpful piece of tech for those long hours spent behind the wheel.
The standard kit on the new V-Class is impressive with a total of eleven innovative driver assistance systems resulting in exemplary level of safety for both the driver and passengers. Lifted straight out of the new S-Class you get; modern radar, camera and ultrasound sensors and Mercedes-Benz Intelligent Drive. The standard equipment includes Crosswind Assist, which stabilizes the V-Class in strong gusts of crosswind, and Attention Assist, which can warn of inattention and fatigue. Optionally extras include Active Park Assist, which is a benefit for the extra long models, making parking a breeze.
Even though the V-Class is still a van with windows and seats and is still boxy, it somehow still manages to ooze quality and prestige. Chauffeurs who were lucky enough to be one of the first in the UK to obtain the new V-Class all say that passengers are impressed with the quality of the interior and have noticed the vast improvement on its predecessor. Inside, the emphasis is on luxury and versatility with a cabin that can seat up to 8 adults. Highlights include sumptuous leather seats, a 7-inch multimedia display, and the intuitive touchpad controller.
The V-Class is available in a range of colours, but you can guarantee black and silver will dominate the market. Having seen the V-Class in both black and silver my personal view is the silver model is the one to go for. With the real tinted windows the black version does tend to be lost and from the outside could be mistaken for a van. Also, as someone who has owned a black vehicle you will find yourself spending a significant amount of your time washing the dam thing.
Moving onto the interior the V-Class is fitted with electronic sliding rear doors and tailgate which enables easy access or exit from the vehicle. However, once you are inside the V-Class it clear the V-Class suffers from a major flaw in design. For reasons I don’t understand it seems that the rear of the vehicle is predominantly configured with the seating in the conference layout. Even on the extra long model – a must for chauffeurs – the leg room for passengers is limited and less than when the seats are all facing forward, but passengers are willing to forgo the leg room so they can all be facing each other.
Due to the heavy lifting involved to change the seat configuration once you decide on forward-facing or conference seating chauffeurs tend to just keep that layout due to the hassle of switching it around between jobs. So what is this flaw I mentioned? Speaking to chauffeurs they all raise the same complaint; “If you have driven the V-Class or the Viano all day or on a long distance job you will suffer the following day with a bad back and you could be in agony.”
This is because when the rear seats are in the conference seating layout the driver is limited on his or hers ability to move back their seat or recline it to a position where they are comfortable – for tall drivers this problem is even worse. Chauffeurs tell me that if they are picking up three passengers they try to arrange them so nobody is sat behind the driver which then enables them to tip the seat directly behind driver allowing them to recline the drivers seat into their preferred position of comfort.
All the seats in the back have the same problem for passengers as well as they are unable to recline the seats directly behind the driver or front passenger seats or the rear seats near the boot if the parcel-shelf is fitted. The customer obviously comes first and if they prefer the conference seating layout you will be stuck with this problem whilst you own the V-Class, but when the vehicle has no passengers onboard you can always tip the seat behind you to help you between jobs.
Fuel efficiency statistics
As for performance, a choice of responsive, efficient engines includes the V 220 d, which can return up to 45.6 mpg combined. Even though a top speed isn’t a main priority for chauffeurs or private hire drivers, the V 250 d, provides 440 Nm of torque, a benefit for when you are fully loaded with passengers and luggage.
|Fuel consumption||V 220 Diesel Extra Long||V 250 Diesel Extra Long|
|Diesel||SE (£)*||Sport (£)*|
|V 220 d (automatic)||£42,995.00||£45,490.00|
|V 250 d (automatic)||£44,670.00||£47,165.00|
|V 220 d (automatic)||–||£48,520.00|
|V 250 d (automatic)||–||£50,195.00|
|V-Class Extra Long|
|V 220 d (automatic)||£44,530.00||£47,025.00|
|V 250 d (automatic)||£46,205.00||£48,700.00|
* Recommended on-the-road price – includes UK delivery charge £540, new registration fee of £50, number plates £25 and fuel £50. ** Panoramic glass sunroof as standard
The new V-Class isn’t cheap and as with all Mercedes you pay for the privilege of the badge and the prestige it brings your business. Straightforward finance is going to cost you around £1,000 per month with a substantial deposit. If you are VAT registered you may be able to claim back the VAT element of the full price
If you were able to put down a £10,000 deposit and made a full repayment over 4 years without a balloon payment the V 250 d Sport trim would cost you around £875 per month, total repayable £42,000 – based on an annual APR of 5.0 per cent. For the same vehicle, but over a three year term would see the monthly payment increase to around £1,150 per month.
Putting a lower deposit – say £5,000 – would increase the monthly repayments to between £960.00 and £1,260 for a term of three of four years respectively – total repayment between £45,300 and £46,500.
Considering the high cost of the V-Class there is a benefit for owners when they come to dispose of the vehicle. A Mercedes V-Class tend to have a reasonable residual value when compared to other people carriers. Even with 200,000 miles plus on the odometer the vehicle will still have a value of several thousand pounds at disposal, but could be difficult to obtain the best price with very high mileage as a private sale may be difficult and trade-in values tend to be significantly less.