Auto Nation Group, the distributor of Mercedes-Benz in the Philippines, has recently launched the refreshed Mercedes-Benz V-Class alongside the refreshed GLC-Class. MPVs and vans, regardless if they’re from a premium brand or not, aren’t necessarily seen as a sexy or handsome way to travel, especially in the western world. Meanwhile, in this part of the world, luxury people carriers such as the Toyota Alphard and Toyota Hiace Super Grandia have such a huge following, so much so that Mercedes-Benz has decided in 2014 to offer the V-Class in Southeast Asian markets. In the end, it was a wise decision. The Philippines is one of Mercedes-Benz’s largest markets for the V-Class, along with a few other Southeast Asian nations. Now that the V-Class has been given an update, let’s see if this luxury MPV has the poise to rival class stalwarts such as the Toyota Alphard.
Deep inside the Mercedes-Benz V-Class’s roots are the fundamentals of the German brand’s popular Vito commercial van. There’s only so much that you could do to make what is essentially a box on wheels look stylish, but Mercedes-Benz has done a stellar job to the V-Class’s looks. It’s got the right amount of bling to set apart the V-Class from other moving boxes on wheels. As this is the entry-level variant, there’s less of the chrome and high-tech detailing seen in the Avantgarde such as the LED headlamps with daytime running lights and nicer alloy wheels, yet it still fits pretty well in a hotel environment.
Step inside the V-Class and you’ll see a well built and luxuriously-appointed interior. Fit and finish are top-notch, with even the doors offering a solid thud typical of a German luxury car. Is this the S-Class of vans, though? Not quite. While there’s an abundance of soft-touch materials and (synthetic) leather, the V-Class at this trim level does not have the same level of luxurious appointments as the Avantgarde variant. It does have a cleverly-designed moveable rear console that houses a table–perfect for those who travel with a chauffeur as they can work or eat on the move.
Costing P4,690,000, it practically does not have a rival in the luxury MPV or minivan space. Indirectly, however, its competition would be the Toyota Alphard and Peugeot Traveller. What made the Alphard so popular in the first place is its cloud-like comfort thanks to having a monocoque body and all-around independent suspension compared to the body-on-frame design of the Peugeot Traveller and this Mercedes-Benz V-Class. As a result, the V-Class’s ride has a degree of firmness, though it’s never uncomfortable.
With only six seats and being the long-wheelbase model of the V-Class, there’s basically acres of space for all occupants. Plus each seat has its own armrest and adjustment, further increasing the V-Class’s level of flexibility and comfort for each passenger.
Being the V 220d variant, it is powered by a 2.1-liter inline-4 turbodiesel engine that produces 163 hp and 380 Nm of torque, sending power to the rear wheels via a 7-speed automatic transmission. It’s no rocketship, nor does it accelerate as fast as the Toyota Alphard, but it manages to get up to speed at a decent pace. Plus, being a diesel, it’s much more efficient at the pumps, achieving around 9 km/l in stop-and-go traffic.
For now, the Mercedes-Benz V-Class has the market on its own. Rumor has it that the Lexus LM will soon be launched on our shores, giving the V-Class some real competition especially since the Toyota Alphard is already so popular in the first place. With its spacious and luxurious interior, plus the efficiency that a diesel engine provides, the Mercedes-Benz V-Class is seen as a luxurious yet efficient way for executives or upper-class families to travel or be driven around Manila. It’s a luxury van that lets us do what matters most in our lives and not be burdened by the hassles that Manila’s traffic implodes on us.
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