Mercedes V300d is the posh shuttle that beckons a chauffeur

Mercedes pitches the V-Class (known as the Metris in North America) as a cavernous van that can cater for both people and cargo carrying duties. And because it is a Mercedes, the passenger versions can be specced up to an almost unbelievable level, with comfort and luxury features you’d normally associate with the brand’s flagship S-Class sedan, or one of their other top-tier models.

The V-Class was recently lightly facelifted, but the refresh is so light that it’s clear Mercedes thought it was already quite good as it was. On the outside, the facelift only changed the front bumpers you can have on your V, depending on which version you opt for, as well as four all-new wheel designs that range in size from 17 to 19 inches - that’s it.

But Mercedes wasn’t sloppy in its effort to improve the V-Class (which in its third and current generation was introduced in 2014) and it mainly concentrated on improving its interior. For Europe, Mercedes swapped out the older 2.1-liter four-cylinder diesel available in several states of tune, replacing it with a new (and better) 2.0-liter that is just better in every single way.

My tester was a V300d, motivated by the new four-pot oil-burner in its most powerful guise, in Avantgarde trim and with the AMG Line pack fitted on. The latter transforms the look of the big V, especially since it swaps out the front bumper for a sportier looking one that is as aggressive as on any other AMG pack-equipped Mercedes. Essentially, it adds an AMG pack-specific grille and AMG pack-specific rims (in this case seven-twin-spoke 19-inch rims that have a silver-black two-tone finish and they really match the vehicle’s silver paint).

Photography by Andrei Nedelea

Exterior

  • Facelift only changes the front bumper
  • For the V-Class to look really posh, you need to spend a lot
  • AMG Line pack changes the bumper for a more aggressive one
  • It may be a van at heart, but it doesn’t look bad
  • Optional full-LED headlights and tail lights help it stand out and look modern
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Calling a commercial type vehicle (a van, essentially) good looking might come off as a tad weird, but, in person and specced the way my tester was, that’s really what I’d call it. It’s a square, rectangular box with a wedge-shaped front part, but many of its details help it stand out.

Its front fascia is probably the single most aggressive Mercedes fascia of any model currently sold with a Three Pointed Star on its nose.

It’s also probably one of the most successful applications of the manufacturer’s now previous design language which left some of its other models looking a bit... disproportionate.

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My tester was also helped by the fact that it had the optional AMG Line pack that changes the entire front fascia - it comes with a unique front bumper and grille combo; the grille itself has exactly the same pattern as any other AMG Line grille on any other model and it not only helps tie this gargantuan people carrier in with the rest of the range, but it further enhances its aggressive fascia.

The optional full-LED headlights with high beam assist also transform the look of the vehicle and they should always be selected on any V-Class. They not only add to the look, but also provide superior forward illumination and with the automatic high beams, night driving safety is improved.

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From the side, the V-Class is not as attractive as it is from the front.

It’s about as squared off as modern vehicles get and there’s no getting away from the fact that it was made to be as cavernous as possible inside and then designers worked around that priority in order to create its exterior appearance. Still, it would have been a lot less interesting to look at without the rising belt (and window) line, as well as the dark tinted rear glass - you always wonder, when you see one of these, who is that is being transported in the back, probably cocooned in luxury and sipping a fine drink.

In the back, the full-LED rear light clusters with three vertical swooshes help liven things up. There isn’t anything especially noteworthy here, aside from the lights, a chrome strip under the wiper and a small spoiler on top of the rear hatch - it also houses the third brake light and it genuinely adds a subtle sporty touch to the rear end of the V.

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Overall, I think my V300d with the AMG Line pack selected looks really good for a van-type vehicle.

It looks surprisingly elegant for what it is and thanks to the AMG trinkets, there’s a hint of sportiness in there as well. The way the V-Class is perceived also boils down to how it’s specced and what exterior options it has on it - if it’s the base model with the regular halogen headlights, hubcaps and no tinted glass, then it might not make as good an impression as the example I tested.

Interior

  • High-spec versions look positively luxurious inside
  • Tester’s combination of wood trim and black leather makes it feel special inside
  • Wide array of seats and optional bits to add to the interior to customize it
  • Van roots mean it’s genuinely cavernous inside
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Climbing into the driver’s seat of the V300d, you will be left in no doubt that you are in a new Mercedes. The driving position is certainly van-esque, as you sit quite high with the steering wheel at an angle, yet you quickly find an ideal position in which you could cover many miles without straining yourself.

As part of the recent refresh, Mercedes gave the V-Class turbine-style vents for the air conditioning and these certainly help lift the ambiance noticeably.

The dials were also refreshed with the facelift and my tester also came with wood trim, a thick-rimmed steering wheel with perforated leather on the parts you grip and full perforated leather upholstery on the seats.

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The first row of seats is fully electrically-adjustable (including the headrests) and both seats also come with an airplane-style armrest that can be lifted out of the way. The middle row has two such armrests for each seat; both the front and second rows of seating fitted to my V300d tester had heating and cooling function which, in true Mercedes style, you can enable at the same time.

The driving position is really high and you therefore get a very good view out - with the seat in its lowest position, you still feel like you’re sitting higher than even in large SUVs. Even really tall SUVs, like the Land Rover Discovery or the Toyota Land Cruiser look like small crossovers from the driver’s seat of the new V.

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However, while the driver may feel pretty special driving a V-Class, it’s the passengers that will enjoy the trip most of all.

Both rear rows of seats offer lots of space to move around, but it’s passengers in the two middle seats that will be the most pampered thanks to the aforementioned heating and cooling functions, as well as the double armrest.

Oh, and the middle seats can also be reclined to such an extent that sleeping in them would be very comfortable. And even when they’re fully reclined, occupants in the row of seating behind will still have plenty of legroom - no wonder, considering this V has a 3.2-meter (126-inch) wheelbase.

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Headroom is also more than plentiful - this vehicle could easily accommodate even tall passengers with excessively tall vintage top hats. Not many vehicles have this quality, so if you need a vehicle to constantly ferry such people around, then the V is ideal for you. If passengers are not sporting ridiculously lofty formal wear on their head, they will still appreciate the fact that they can stretch their arms up without touching the headliner. Traveling in the V as a passenger, you do get a sense that you are in the business sector of an airliner, but with even more space all around and probably better materials too.

Mercedes didn’t neglect the rearmost row, though. My tester had a full bench seat setup, but you can opt for two individual seats (with available heating and cooling functions) as well. With this full bench setup, though, three people can share the back seat quite comfortably and not feel claustrophobic at all. The outer chairs even have armrests built into the interior panels, as well as cupholders and even climate control vents for their feet.

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Probably the best thing about the V-Class’ interior is just how configurable it is.

You can have any seat layout you choose, and you can mix and match what’s available in Mercedes’ catalog for the V. Buyers can also choose one of three length variants and this choice has a big impact on how cavernous the vehicle feels inside. My tester was the long version and it felt big enough to be lived in - can’t imagine how much bigger the extra-long variant feels inside, but it might seem big enough to rent out part of it on Airbnb.

Drivetrain

  • New 2.0-liter engine is a peach
  • V300d variant is positively rapid, especially by van standards
  • Nine-speed gearbox is supremely smooth, works well with the new diesel
  • Refinement is much improved thanks to new engine
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For the European market, Mercedes now only offers the V-Class with one 2.0-liter four-cylinder turbocharged diesel engine, albeit in three states of tune: V220d, V250d, and V300d. The first has an output of 160 horsepower and 380 Nm (280 pound-feet), while the second bumps the figures up to 187 horsepower and 440 Nm (324 pound-feet) of torque.

My tester was the most powerful of the three, with an output of 236 horsepower and 500 Nm (368 pound-feet).

And even if the vehicle is tall, wide and not especially aerodynamic, plus the fact that in as-tested spec it weighs close to 2.3 tons, it sprints off the line surprisingly briskly.

Mercedes quotes the V300d in the long configuration (and without the optional 4Matic all-wheel drive) as being able to sprint to 100 km/h (62 mph) in 7.8 seconds - that’s almost as quick as a Toyota GT86. The V300d’s top speed is 220 km/h (136 mph), so don’t be surprised to see one of these blast past you on the autobahn, on your holidays in Germany.

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Worth mentioning is just how much more refined this new 2.0-liter diesel is compared to the 2.1-liter it replaced.

The old engine was quite clattery most of the time and the new one just isn’t - it’s a world away from the old mill in terms of noise, vibration, and harshness and it genuinely adds to the serene, hushed experience of being aboard a V-Class. It definitely makes the V-Class the most refined commercial-type vehicle currently available. Oh, and the stop-start system is very unobtrusive - you hardly feel it when the engine restarts; it has to be one of the best application of the system in any car.

All engine versions come exclusively paired to Mercedes’ nine-speed automatic transmission that is really good in every respect. It shifts gears extremely smoothly, it never seems dim-witted or jerky (the right gear always seems to be selected) and it also gives the V-Class a bit of a sporty character. Put the vehicle in sport mode and you do notice a shift speed increase, along with shift ferocity - I wouldn’t go so far as to call the V300d sporty, but it certainly isn’t lethargic in any way. Overall, how the transmission operates is a real highlight of this drivetrain.

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Mercedes says the V300d should return around 6 l/100km, but during my test drive of the V300d, I managed to average 9.3 l/100km. I by no means drove it in an economical fashion, though, and kept it in Sport mode for most of my drive - when Sport mode is selected, the gearbox has a greater propensity to downshift in order to give you power when you need it, but this does have a noticeable effect on how much fuel is being used.

If electric vehicles are your thing, Mercedes now offers the V-Class in full-electric guise, as part of its EQ model lineup. Called the EQV it has a 201 horsepower electric motor that sends its power to the front wheels (not the rears like in all other V-Class variants), it draws juice from a 90 kWh battery pack (located in the floor) and offers a range of up to 405 km (251 miles) on a single charge. The automaker says that thanks to how the battery pack is placed, the EQV is as roomy and practical as any other available V-Class model.

Driving Impressions

  • Unmatched comfort level
  • Rear-wheel drive chassis makes makes more fun to drive than you’d expect it to be
  • Driving position makes you feel like you’re sitting in it, rather than on it
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Try to attack a corner at higher speeds and the vehicle will heave onto one side slightly alarmingly. However, grip is plentiful and the steering precise enough, but a bit overly-assisted and too light - it’s not precise if you compare it to how a C-Class sedan steers, but the helm does feel more connected to the wheels than you’d expect for a vehicle of its type. As far as commercial-type vehicles go, the only better steering system is that of the Ford Transit which is the most car-like van to drive and it does feel a bit more engaging than the V-Class on a twisty road.

What the V-Class has in its favor is the fact that it is a rear-wheel drive vehicle.

No, you won’t slide its tail out on corner exit as you can in smaller cars (although you probably can in the V too, but I was too chicken to try it out myself), but it is not the least rewarding vehicle to drive quickly - the sensation of being pushed by the rear axle versus being pulled by the front axle helps improve the driving experience a lot.

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In regards to comfort, the V300d I drove was just superb. I wouldn’t go so far as to call it an S-Class van, but there were times when its sheer capability of making road imperfections disappear made me think of the comparison. It’s really amazing how smoothly it glides over most bumps and ruts in the road and all of this without air springs or adaptive dampers - the trade-off is the aforementioned body roll, but comfort is key for this type of vehicle, so if it’s really good at it, a bit of corner lean can definitely be forgiven.

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The seating position is, as you’d expect, quite high, since the vehicle itself is, well, quite high.

However, if you put the seat in its lowest position (as I did) and adjust the steering wheel (which can be adjusted for both reach and rake), it doesn’t actually feel that high. You’ll still lord it over most SUVs, yet you will also feel like you’re sitting in the vehicle, instead of on it - a distinction that I think makes all the difference to how the driver feels behind the wheel, since when you drive most vans, you kind of feel like you’re sitting on top of them rather than inside them.

Again, I wouldn’t go so far as saying the V300d feels like a mechanical extension of your body, but compared to other similar vehicles, it does a very good job of fooling you into thinking you’re not actually driving a van. Probably the short wheelbase version will feel even sharper and better on twisty roads, but the longer wheelbase models ride a bit better - in fact, it’s the vehicle’s vast distance between its two axles that plays a big part in why it is so comfortable.

Prices

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The V-Class can be had in Europe from just under €40,000, but, as with most Mercedes models, the top of the range model doubles the figure. My tester’s sticker price, for instance, was exactly €79,494, and there were still some options boxes left unticked.

And it’s not what you’d call cheap to begin with, so its high starting price will put some buyers off. The Volkswagen Transporter Kombi (also known as the Caravelle in the U.K. or the Multivan in its native Germany), for instance, starts at a much more reasonable €28,000 and even though it has a smaller footprint, it offers seating for up to nine people in its longer wheelbase versions.

Competition

Ford Turneo Custom

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The Ford Turneo Custom is the best handling van type vehicle on the market right now, boasting great steering (for a van) and surprising body control and agility through the bends. It also has a modern, car-like interior that can brim with technology in higher-spec versions. And it’s these higher-spec passenger-carrying versions that might pose a threat to the Mercedes V-Class, since you can get the Ford with very comfortable individual leather seats and picnic tables for all passengers.

It doesn’t feel quite as posh as higher-spec V-Class models, but it’s considerably cheaper to buy and with the cash difference you can either spec it up to the extreme or just pocket the difference. The Ford isn’t that much cheaper than the Mercedes, though, with pricing starting at around €35,000, and it doesn’t have as much choice when it comes to engines, nor is its automatic gearbox as smooth as the one in the V-Class.

Volkswagen Transporter Kombi

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The Volkswagen Transporter Kombi (aka Caravelle or Multivan) is the V-Class’ closest rival. Firstly, it feels like a posh, premium vehicle inside, with a well-appointed cabin on higher spec versions and plenty of luxury features to boot. It’s not as good to drive as either the Turneo or the V-Class, but it’s still a pleasant vehicle to be behind the wheel of, even on very long road trips.

It has a wider range of engines than the V-Class and just like the V-Class, it can be had with optional all-wheel drive. Buyers can also specify active safety and advanced multimedia systems too, as well as a full leather interior. The only real problem with it is the fact that its price starts to creep up as you pile on the options and a well-specced example with a more powerful engine, all-wheel drive, and an automatic dual-clutch gearbox might be about as expensive as an equivalent V-Class.

Conclusion

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The Mercedes V-Class doesn’t have any real natural rivals, so people who want this vehicle specifically are going to buy it without even checking out its competition. Its attraction partly stems from the badge that adorns its grille, but also partly from its sheer comfort and versatility. No other vehicle of this type rides as well as the V-Class, whose combination of fairly soft suspension and the long wheelbase make it a real mile-muncher.

The post-facelift model is also considerably better than the model it replaced, but not due to the minor cosmetic upgrades or additional tech. The main reason behind its big improvement is the adoption of the new 2.0-liter engine that trickled down to it from the C-Class and E-Class models. It is so refined and, in the case of my V300d tester, so punchy that it dramatically improves the driving experience. It really works in combination with the (standard) nine-speed automatic gearbox, delivering a smooth and relaxed drive, or a more alert one if you put the vehicle in sport mode (which I did quite often during my time with the vehicle).

My nearly €80,000 tester was a very pleasant place to sit, with leather and wood everywhere and also plenty of gadgets. I especially liked the heated and cooled first and second rows of seats, as well as the climate system vents for the rearmost row too. The sliding center console in the passenger compartment comes complete with picnic tables that are genuinely useful to place your laptop on them and work on the fly - you can, as their name suggests, even use them for an actual picnic as they are quite sturdy.

  • Leave it
    • Van-like looks
    • Van-like driving experience
    • High price
    • High price of optional extra
    • The V-Class you want costs over €70,000

Further Reading

The Revised 2019 Mercedes-Benz V-Class is the Rolls-Royce of Passenger Vans
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The Revised 2019 Mercedes-Benz V-Class is the Rolls-Royce of Passenger Vans

2016 Mercedes-Benz V-Class AMG Line High Resolution Exterior
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Read our full review on the Mercedes-Benz V-Class AMG Line.

Custom Mercedes-Maybach V-Class - an Exceptional Coach - Exclusive Images and Video
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Read our full review on the Custom Mercedes-Maybach V-Class.

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