The Mercedes V-class has been revealed, and will go on sale in the UK in March next year. The eight-seater replaces the Viano in Mercedes' line-up, and marks the return of the V-class name for the first time since the original was introduced in 1996.
The company is hoping the V-class will appeal to current R-class owners seeking the everyday versatility, seating capacity and outright space of an MPV. Sales of the R-class were discontinued in Europe in 2013 following disappointing sales.
Conceived and developed in a joint engineering program with the third-generation Vito van, the new V-class will be produced at Mercedes' Vitoria factory in Spain.
The V-class has been given a much more individual character than its predecessor, with more contemporary exterior styling touches that visually link it with other Mercedes passenger car models. A luxurious cabin is also offered, complete with a high quality dashboard and and offered with the latest version of Mercedes' Comand infotainment system.
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 Mercedes-Benz 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 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 MPV measures 5170mm in long form and 5370mm in extra-long form. With a nominal height of 1880mm, Mercedes 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 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.