MOTORS REVIEW: Mercedes V-Class

No mystery as ‘V’ is in a class of its own.

ED Sheeran, The Proclaimers and Nicola Sturgeon were all among the names we speculated fellow motorists might be attempting to spot as they peered into the back of “our” Mercedes V-Class.

There has always been something about deeply tinted windows that sparks intrigue and when they flank a 5.37-metre-long Mercedes-Benz racing up the M74 into Glasgow the Saturday afternoon of a bank holiday weekend the effect is magnified.

Thankfully the ever-so deep tinting disguised the fact that my cargo was the — now familiar to Advertiser readers, I’m sure — annual gathering of the Sharpe family heading north to see my brother and his family.

After encountering the new V-Class on the recent launch of the new S-Class in Zurich (grab a copy of Chase magazine to find out a little more) I knew that the premium people carrier was the ideal vehicle of choice for my precious cargo, which ranged in age from four to 92.

The V 250 d AMG Line Extra Long which the German brand’s UK press office were kind enough to furnish me with for the 520-mile round trip came in a range-topping £52,470 guise.

Options including a Driving Assistance Package, which included blind spot assistance, adaptive cruise control, lane keeping assistance and automated emergency braking and an uprated Burmester stereo took the overall price to over £58,000.

Just as well, then, that owners will actually find the V-Class claims 44.8mpg fuel economy and a highly respectable claim of 166g/km CO2 emissions — promising to keep running costs down.

During our run across Cumbria and into Scotland along the A66 we didn’t waste time and, with the 1,410-litre boot well-loaded and all available seats occupied by myself and my seven passengers, the trip computer recorded an average consumption of over 36mpg.

With 187bhp and 324lb.ft. of torque the VClass’s 2.1-litre turbodiesel engine was surprisingly unflustered by the load and easily cruised at motorway speeds.

Mercedes claims that a 9.1-second sprint to 62mph is possible along with a 129mph top speed and, with the seven-speed automatic gearbox taking the stress out of shifting, progress felt effortless from behind the wheel.

In fact, over the course of a weekend which saw us juggling a trio of four-year-olds and three passengers over 80 in and out of the rear seats, I think I was stationed in the best place.

A wheelbase some 300mm longer than the super-luxury Mercedes-Maybach version of the aforementioned S-Class, at some 3,430mm, helps the V-Class Extra Long deliver an extremely composed ride.

That length allows the front and rear wheels longer to react to road imperfections and combined with the adaptive damping of the Agility Control suspension, makes for an excellent ride and body control.

Among a raft of Mercedes-Benz safety kit the V-Class is also the only vehicle in its class to come equipped with Crosswind Assist as standard.

The system will brake the wheels on the flank of a prevailing gust of wind to maintain greater stability in high winds, something I might have been grateful for had things been dicey as we crossed the famous Erskine Bridge into Dumbarton.

Alas, the crossing was mind-numbingly slow, a collision having caused hold-ups a full six hours into our journey to sap our enthusiasm.

Thankfully the V-Class cabin shares much of its architecture and infotainment kit withthe rest of the Mercedes range, making it the most attractive space in its class.

While brushed chrome effect, polished piano black and leather materials all add to the drama of a sculptural dashboard, the combined rotary selector and touch-sensitive controllers give access to stereo, sat-nav vehicle set-up and climate control functions via the hi-res colour graphics of a seven-inch display.

The automatic high beam of the LED headlights, a 360-degree birds eye-view reversing camera, remote controlled automated side doors, automatic wipers and a speaker system which ensures communication between the front and far rear without the need to raise your voice also add to the effortless feel of the V-Class.

In the back, six seats were made up of two pairs of benches and two individual seats, arranged in rows of three, made up the rear seating plan.

On arrival, my test vehicle’s seats were arranged in series but I took advantage of a local Mercedes-Benz dealership to have them swapped into a facing, picnic-style arrangement to make things a little more sociable.

One thing to bear in mind — as I was told by the dealership’s service department — is that only a single-piece, three-seat bench option can be slid into the rear-most position of the rails which the seats slot into.

As my vehicle didn’t have these, passengers were left with reasonable legroom rather than the limo-like levels possible.

After driving over 1,000 miles in a week in something the size of a large van, though, I did not have enough praise for the V-Class.

If I was to change jobs and become a chauffeur to the likes of Ed Sheeran or Nicola Sturgeon (two names you never thought you’d spot in the same sentence) I’d quite fancy spending my working day behind the wheel of one of these.

As it was, it’s luxury levels of comfort and effortless progress helped to nurse me through another epic Sharpe family trip North.

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