Mercedes V 250 Bluetec, VW T5, Front view 37 Photos Zoom

Mercedes V-Class: Initial comparison with the VW T5

Barely eleven years have passed and already the Mercedes Viano has a successor. It now once again goes under the name of the V-Class – and is looking to be in a class of its own compared to other large vans.

It had no shortage of time to develop. Mercedes introduced the Viano 128 months prior. Many of its contemporaries – the Golf V, Smart Roadster or Mercedes CLK Cabrio – have long retired to the used vehicle market. There is still one remaining, and it has been around for 130 months: the VW Multivan, as ever the greatest rival to the Mercedes V-Class.

Mercedes V-Class with a base price of 40,000 Euros

The Mercedes V-Class is returning to its original classification, as it considers itself to be a passenger car, 100%. This is also evident in the fact that it is presented in the presence of its used vehicle cousin, the Vito, from which it differs technically more than was previously the case. And no, it is inconceivable that a Mercedes V 250 Bluetec Avantgarde such as this, with 19-inch aluminium wheels, sports chassis and black leather interior would ever transport plumbers' tools to repair a broken water pipe.

Instead, as noted by Mercedes, it appeals to hotel operators as a VIP shuttle, to recreational athletes with bulky sporting equipment and to families in need of the extra space. However, for many families receiving child benefit the vehicle, which is available in three lengths and with two wheelbases, the vehicle will generally be out of reach financially – and the fact that the Mercedes V-Class, with a base price of around 40,000 Euros, is a little less expensive than a VW T5, adjusted to compensate for differences in equipment, doesn't really change anything in this regard.

It is therefore not incorrect to refer to the Mercedes V-Class as a real dream car for families. In the most popular – the middle – length of 5.13 metres, it allows a huge amount of space for six passengers. As our measurements show, the VW Multivan, just 24 centimetres shorter in length and just 20 centimetres in wheelbase, is almost just as generous in terms of space. This comes down to the fact that the engines – three variants of the 2.1-litre turbo diesel with 136, 163 and 190 bhp – in the Mercedes V-Class sit lengthwise in the bows and the front compartment claims all of the additional ten centimetres in length for better passenger protection.

A host of helpers for the Mercedes V-Class

Firstly, safety: in this respect the developers bring the Mercedes V-Class up to the standard of the modern passenger car, with driver assistants ranging from active cruise control to a lane-change assistant, along with the new crosswind assistant, which keeps the van in its lane by means of ESP. Of course, all rear seats have Isofix and clamps in the integrated belts, and the magnesium seat frames should withstand the greatest of force and reduce weight.

That said, our measurements show that the four comfortably upholstered seats in the Mercedes V-Class, which can slide on rails, still weigh 29.5 kilos each. The seats of the VW T5 indeed weigh in at ten kilos more, but can also swivel. And the three-person rear seat folds into a bed.

From the summer the Mercedes V-Class will also offer this feature. Even now it impresses with clever details, which will have you asking why no-one ever thought of them before. For example, the separately opening rear window, to avoid the rear hatchback door having to open up electronically in tight parking spaces. Or the second loading shelf directly in line with the rear window. It looks like a little table, but can be folded up.

Mercedes V-Class receives all-wheel drive like the VW T5

Inside there are two folding boxes, in which small purchases can be stowed rather than rolling around after the first corner as is otherwise the case in large cars. If you fold the backs of the single seats down, you can pack an entire library's worth of Billy bookcases onto the top shelving level. If you need the full loading height, you can pull the 18 kilo intermediary level out, which is anchored to the seat rail system.

In spite of its many storage compartments, the VW T5 on the other hand now looks somewhat outdated with its heavy, awkwardly folding seat bench. Granted it is one of the greatest automotive all-rounders, with its wide range of engines and a vast array of extras including all-wheel drive (which the Mercedes V-Class will soon also receive), and this is something that it is no longer required to prove.

In contrast, the Mercedes V-Class must yet demonstrate how well its selective dampers work, which select a soft or a tighter characteristic curve depending on the driving mode, how well the parking assistant manoeuvres into a space that is just a metre longer than the vehicle and whether the 163 bhp diesel engine really delivers a consumption rate of 6 litres/100 km when put to the test. It has certainly had long enough to prepare.


Hans-Dieter Seufert


10 February 2015
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