The design of the dashboard and choice of materials used up front is particularly noteworthy, in a class not renowned for style or quality. Continuing the look first established on the latest S-class, it can be dressed up with matt-finish wooden trims and Nappa leather upholstery, giving the V-class an upmarket feel. Among the standard safety kit are six airbags. The steering wheel is taken from the C-class.
“It was a case of coming up with something completely new rather than upgrading a functional interior," said Kai Sieber, design boss for Mercedes-Benz vans. "We wanted to give our MPV real passenger car character and appeal."
UK buyers can choose between two body sizes, with either a single kerb-side rear sliding door or two rear sliding doors. The new Mercedes-Benz MPV measures 5170mm in long form and 5370mm in extra-long form. With a nominal height of 1880mm, Mercedes-Benz claims it can be driven into multi-storey car parks, car washes and standard-sized garages.
Mercedes' versatile new luxury MPV will be sold with a standard 2+2+2 seating layout, providing individual seating for up to six occupants. A 2+3+3 arrangement boosts total seating capacity to eight. Buyers can also specify what Mercedes-Benz describes as a luxury sleeper option, in which the rear-most seat folds to form a bed. The front seats are electrically adjustable and can be ordered with a swivel function providing 50 degrees of outward travel and 180 degrees of inward travel.
Two engines will be offered at launch in the UK - the latest 161bhp/280lb ft 2.1-litre four-cylinder diesel and a 188bhp/325lb ft 2.1-litre BlueTec hybrid. Both promise much improved fuel economy over the ageing, outgoing engine line-up, addressing one of the main critcisms of today’s Viano.
The V220CDi is rated at 49.6mpg - an improvement of 15mpg over the old Viano - and a reasonable 149g/km of CO2 when mated to the standard six-speed manual transmission. The V250 BlueTec Hybrid is rated at an impressive 46mpg and 157g/km of CO2 when equipped with a standard seven-speed automatic transmission. Mercedes-Benz puts the 0-62mph times between 9.1sec and 13.8sec.
The front-wheel drive platform for the V-class is derived from the current Viano. Around 20 per cent of the pressings are carried over and 10 per cent of the minor components, but all the visual panels are new.
The new suspension system features MacPherson struts up front and trailing arms at the rear. The steering is an electro mechanical system and shares its concept with the C-class, albeit with different parts. The electrical system is taken from new C class, but all the software and sensors have been reprogrammed for the different driving cycle.
Mercedes has provided the new V-class with many of its latest safety and driver assistant systems, although the majority are set to come as options on models destined for the UK. Among the standard equipment is so-called Crosswind Assist and fatigue detecting Attention Assist. Optional systems include park assist, blind spot assist and collision prevention.
Official pricing for the V-class has yet to be announced.
Additional reporting by Julian Rendell