There have been several generations of the big luxury Mercedes MPV - and they’ve all been based on the humble Vito van. The latest big facelift came in 2015 along with a name change - from Viano to V-Class. Mercedes charges a lot for the V-Class, so tries hard to disguise its van origins with styling cues from its more prestigious car division. It works.
The more recent the version, the better they look. The basic shape may be obviously a van, but there are now rounded, purposeful front ends with grilles like the C-Class and tapered sides like the E-Class. Some big fancy alloy wheels, LED headlamps and sleek roof bars help. Two electrically operated sliding side doors and 3-colour ambient lighting come as standard.
Proof of the V-Class’s van origins comes at the fuel pump. The filler is not in the back corner but low, by the passenger door, as it is on most commercial vehicles.
There have been several generations of the big luxury Mercedes MPV.
What’s it like to drive?
It’s huge. This means driving the V-Class feels intimidating at first. There are some spaces it simply won’t fit. You soon get used to it though. Most of the time it feels just like driving a car.
The controls are light and precise, and the driving position is more like the C-Class than the Viano van. It’s smooth and comfortable for passengers. Try to find a version with the optional all-round cameras to help with tight spaces.
There’s a choice of powerful turbodiesels that drive the rear wheels in the traditional way, via a standard 7-speed automatic gearbox. A fully electric EQV version was launched in 2020 with a quoted range of 213 miles.
It’s huge. This means driving the V-Class feels intimidating at first.
The V-Class is in a different category to people carriers. It’s in a sort of luxury minibus category, almost by itself. Even the biggest ‘normal’ people carriers are very full with 7 adults, and there’s little luggage space left over. The V-Class carries up to 8 easily and still has lots of room for their luggage.
It comes in 3 lengths - normal, long and extra-long (which is enormous). Seven-seaters have a couple of luxury swivelling captain-style seats in the middle row. Eight-seater versions have a 3-seat bench instead. They both have 3 seats in the rear row.
All the seats are premium quality. The front heated seats have 4-way lumbar supports. Electric multi-adjustment is an option. Middle-row seats can have the same, plus cooling ventilation. Longer versions come with fold-up tables in the middle.
The cabin design and trim are again more like a C-Class executive saloon than a Vito van. There’s full leather seating, a swooping dashboard with a dark upper strip hosting most instruments, and the central 7-inch touchscreen. Beneath that is a console with a controller to scroll through infotainment settings.
The V-Class offers various connectivity options, including sat-nav, DAB, Bluetooth and creating an on-board Wi-Fi hotspot.
There’s a lot of glass so it’s light and airy. No one will feel squashed. The length is awkward enough when parking but also be aware that the height, almost 1.9m, is too much for many indoor car parks. That won’t be helped by the optional selection of roof boxes available to buyers.
Look out for models fitted with the most helpful option – the 360-degree camera system. It makes parking the V-Class so much easier.
Once you’ve parked, the powered tailgate is huge, making loading big objects easy. It’s so big it can even keep you dry in the rain like an awning. You do need to park with enough space behind you to open it. If you can’t, you can load through the opening rear window.
The boot space is big, even in the normal-length version. Some versions come with handy load space dividers to stop shopping rolling around.
The substantial seats can be folded, slid around and removed. They’re heavy to lift, though, so you’ll need a couple of people. There are a few storage slots around the cabin, a glovebox and USB sockets between the front seats. The rest of the cabin gets a measly 4 cup-holders.
Safety features have helped the V-Class get a 5-star safety rating, and the tech on board includes brake lights that glow brighter the harder you brake. There’s also automatic emergency braking and a system to counter crosswinds on the motorway.
Running costs and reliability
The V-Class is as expensive as an executive car when new. Prices quickly tumble though and a used one could be the price of a new hatchback. The fuel economy of turbodiesel versions should be between 35 and 38mpg. Expect pricey tax, servicing and insurance. The new electric model offers a maximum range of 213 miles between charges.
All new Mercedes vehicles come with a 3-year warranty and, helpfully for used buyers, 12-year anti-rust cover – as long as the regular inspections have been maintained.
The only place where this model’s van origins is a positive factor is reliability. The tough, tried and tested engineering of a Mercedes van should mean most V-Class problems are very minor.
What cinch loves
The V-Class is an enormous vehicle and offers the ultimate luxury – lots of space. It suits big affluent families, sports enthusiasts with lots of equipment to carry and, perhaps most likely, businesses looking to impress clients. There’s space for up to 8 adults to travel in comfort along with their luggage. The cabin is well-fitted, and access is easy through big side doors. The V-Class is well-equipped and has a premium feel – plus a prestige badge.