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Benz's V-Class takes MPVs upmarket

V day: The V-Class replaces the Viano in Benz's Australian people-mover line-up, and a replacement for the Valente is expected soon.

Mercedes' V-Class people-mover in showrooms from July priced $85,500 plus ORCs


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13 May 2015

MERCEDES-BENZ'S new V-Class premium people-mover has officially gone on sale in Australia with a $4385 price increase over the model it effectively replaces, but it also comes with a substantial boost in standard comfort and safety gear.

The V-Class – the first Benz model to use this moniker – is on sale now from $85,500, plus on-road costs, with first deliveries starting in July, taking over from the soon to be discontinued Viano as the German car-maker's flagship MPV.

The Viano was available in Grand Edition specification level from $81,115, and the all-new V-Class will also be offered in one grade, for now.

Mercedes-Benz Australia/Pacific senior manager of public relations, product and corporate communications David McCarthy talked up the safety credentials of the V-Class, telling GoAuto that it will be a new benchmark for drivability in the segment.

“The previous Viano was a five-star (ANCAP crash safety rated) vehicle,” he said. “The safety, the dynamics, the comfort, the equipment – anyone who drives this vehicle will go 'why don't all vans drive like this? Why don't all people-movers drive like this?' You know why not? Because it's not a Mercedes.”

Mr McCarthy confirmed that Benz's other people-mover – the Vito-based Valente – will remain in the Australian line-up under that nameplate and sell alongside the V-Class. A new Valente is due soon, with the arrival of the new-generation Vito set for July this year, and is expected to continue to undercut the V-Class on price.

Last year Mercedes sold 233 Vianos and 323 Valentes in Australia, with the latter leading the sales race in the tiny people-mover over $60,000 segment, that also includes the Chrysler Grand Voyager (77 sales last year).

Mr McCarthy said the V-Class would naturally appeal to limousine operators, but added that it is also attractive to private customers.

“The VHA business, the hire car business, it's quite a bit of it, but it is a fair share of retail business as well.”

With room for up to eight people, the V-Class features luxuries including driver and front passenger leather seats with four-way lumbar support and ventilation, a Thermotronic automatic climate control offering three individualised modes – Focus, Medium and Diffuse.

The Thermotronic system has a pre-entry setting to warm or cool the vehicle at the touch of a button on the key, and a demisting sensor, while the position of the sun is detected to determine the distribution of cool air to both the driver and passenger sides. A tunnel detection system can even automatically recirculate air.

Lugano leather upholstery is standard throughout thecabin, as is ambient lighting in three colours, a free-standing central display dominating the top of the centre stack, a multi-function steering wheel and paddle shifters.

The latest version of Benz's Comand connectivity and infotainment control is included, and there is a 16-speaker Burmester surround sound system which, in conjunction with Comand Online, allows front seat occupants to communicate with passengers in the rear via on-board microphones and loud speakers.

The V-Class gets a separately opening rear windscreen – a segment first according to Benz – which can be operated independently of the electronically operated tailgate. It includes a load compartment organiser that allows for two separate loading levels that can hold up to 50kg in the two recesses, each of which holds a removable and collapsible shopping basket.

Under the bonnet, Benz has downsized from the Viano's 3.0-litre V6 turbo-diesel engine to a Euro 6 compliant 2.1-litre BlueTec four-cylinder turbo-diesel unit producing 140kW and 440Nm, matched with a seven-speed 7G Distronic Plus dual-clutch transmission.

Power has dropped by 25kW and torque remains the same, but the V-Class features an 'overtorque' function for more brisk acceleration, which adds 10kW and 40Nm for a maximum output of 150kW/480Nm.

As a result of the downsizing, fuel consumption is down from 8.6 litres per 100 kilometres to 6.3L/100km, while the V-Class emits 166 grams of carbon dioxide per 100 kilometres.

Benz's Agility Select function is standard, allowing the driver to choose between economical, comfortable, sport and manual driving modes that alter engine, accelerator and transmission response accordingly, while the Agility Control suspension system adjusts the damping depending on road conditions.

V-Class' safety features include Crosswind Assist, Attention Assist, Active Parking Assist the Pre-Safe accident avoidance system, and a Driver Assistance Package with Distronic Plus, and a blind-spot warning and lane-keep assist.

Mercedes engineers have worked to improve noise, vibration and harshness (NVH) levels, which the car-maker says are the lowest in the segment and have halved compared with the Viano.

Unveiled in January last year, the V-Class carries similar front-end styling to other models in the Mercedes passenger line-up, with the large grille and three-dimensional central star, and LED headlights that incorporates the Intelligent Lighting System.

The Viano and Valente took over people-mover duties in the Benz range after the car-maker dropped the slow-selling seven-seat R-Class in 2013. It also offers a passenger version of the Vito light-commercial van, called the Vito wagon, from $49,990, plus on-roads.

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