What Car? says...
What unites Russian oligarchs, high-ranking members of the Japanese mafia and British VIPs whisked away from an airport? No, it’s not a dodgy bank account, but the fact they are most likely travelling in a Mercedes V-Class.
The V-Class is now in its fourth generation and you can have it in standard, long or extra-long form with a choice of two diesel engines. There's also an electric variant, called the Mercedes EQV. There are several trim levels to choose from, including one named AMG line that brings a more aggressive exterior.
Not only is it offered as an MPV, though. You can also buy a campervan-style version which sleeps up to four people, has a kitchenette, and is known as the V-Class Marco Polo. The V-Class range received a facelift in 2019, bringing styling tweaks inside and out, as well as a new lineup of engines and a new automatic gearbox.
The question is, would this big people carrier work for you? Is it the ideal choice to transport your troop of kids? Read on through this review to find out everything you need to know about Mercedes V-Class.
And don’t forget to look at our New Car Buying pages to see how much money we could save you off your next new car without any awkward haggling.
Performance & drive
What it’s like to drive, and how quiet it is
Even the 220d, the smallest, cheapest V-Class engine, is up to the job and pulls well from low revs, but if you are regularly filling all those seats we’d suggest you plump for the more powerful 300d.
Its extra shove not only helps it feel relatively brisk, but it’s also quieter – not having to rev it so hard to make progress tempers the engine noise. Both engines come with a nine-speed automatic gearbox, and this works well, producing slick shifts.
Unfortunately, as its name strongly hints, the V-Class is based on the Vito van, and its commercial vehicle underpinnings are made evident right from the off by the somewhat rudimentary way it rides. Even with the adaptive suspension that comes as standard on UK models, it bounces along on undulating roads and, if you hit a hefty bump or ridge at any speed, a resounding shudder will echo through the interior.
It falls a long way behind the comfort offered by regular MPVs such as the Ford Galaxy, while even the similarly van-based Peugeot Traveller manages to do better.
The same is true of handling. Bar the Galaxy, none of these large MPVs feel particularly agile, granted. Yet, with low-witted steering and a hefty amount of body lean through corners, the V-Class lives firmly in the shadow of rivals.
Another area in which the V-Class lags behind its purpose-designed MPV rivals is refinement. Wind and road noise are reasonably well checked, but you get lots of suspension noise over broken surfaces. The diesel engines, which were slightly tweaked during the 2019 update, are pretty quiet unless you work them hard but, overall, the Ford Galaxy is a far more relaxing car to travel in.
The Mercedes V-Class Marco Polo versions have the same suspension and engine set-ups, but all the additional fitments inside bring a hefty chunk of extra weight. This serves to provide a somewhat more settled ride at a motorway cruise, but makes the V-Class feel even more cumbersome along twisting roads. You’ll definitely prefer to gently shuffle from one picturesque campsite to another, rather than hot-foot it between them.
Strengths Quick-shifting automatic gearbox; strong engines
Weaknesses Bouncy ride; rivals are more comfortable; poor refinement
The interior layout, fit and finish
As with the VW Caravelle, the V-Class manages to pull off the transformation from van into business-class transport more convincingly than the cheaper Ford Tourneo does.
Standard Nappa leather seat trim and lashings of chrome dotted around, along with faux-leather across the dashboard, make it look and feel pleasingly smart inside. Because the switchgear is borrowed from Mercedes cars, the buttons feel suitably substantial as well.
Everything on the dashboard is logically arranged, making it easy to use, although the infotainment system menus can seem a bit overwhelming before you get used to them. At least the high-mounted screen is clear and easy to see.
The driver’s seat is set quite high and offers an excellent view of the road ahead. Large side windows and door mirrors also mean you can easily see what’s coming up alongside.
The view behind isn’t quite so clear; the third row of seats hinder your vision through the rear screen. Fortunately, as all models come with parking sensors (front and rear) plus a reversing camera, this isn’t too much of an issue.
The captain’s-type driver’s seat, with its folding armrest, feels comfortable to sit on but doesn’t provide much side support when cornering. Nevertheless, it and the steering wheel both offer plenty of adjustment, so it shouldn’t take you long to find a comfortable driving position.
Strengths Looks and feels premium; logical dashboard arrangement; good visibility from the front
Weaknesses Third-row seats hinder rear visibility; seats don't provide much side support
Passenger & boot space
How it copes with people and clutter
Access to the front seats is easy thanks to large, wide-opening doors, and the rear seats are even easier to get to thanks to a vast electric sliding door on each side. They are electrically operated via buttons as standard and are a real plus point when you need rear-seat access in a tight multi-story car park.
There’s a completely flat floor that makes it easy for passengers to move around inside. It is roomy, too, but the standard length V-Class doesn’t actually offer much more space for each passenger than the Ford Galaxy.
The second and third row of seats sit on rails that run from front to rear, allowing you to position them to maximise leg room for either of the two rows, or to enlarge the boot space. Sliding them back and forth isn’t as easy as it is in a regular MPV, though.
The standard arrangement is of two individual seats in the second row with a storage box in between, which contains cup holders and two foldout tables. If you wish, you can turn this row around to face the three third-row seats.
You can also upgrade those seats to recline and massage you like those in the back of an S-Class. Long and Extra Long versions come with eight seats as standard, including three seats in the middle row as well as the third.
Disappointingly, with all seven seats deployed, the boot area is relatively small and will struggle to take seven people’s luggage. You’ll find the Ford Galaxy to have a far bigger boot with all its seven seats in place, and it also shares with similar regular MPVs the advantage of a third row that folds into the floor when it’s not in use.
The V-Class only offers the option of removing the third row altogether, and it’s a cumbersome thing to lug about and store. If you go for the longer eight-seat V-Class Long and Extra Long models, the boot is far bigger and will swallow several large suitcases.
Meanwhile, the Mercedes V-Class Marco Polo campervan turns that seven-seat interior into luxury property on wheels. There’s seating for four, two of whose seats can fold down into a double bed. For the other two, a pop-up roof provides space for another double bed on the makeshift ‘second-floor’.
Depending on specification, there’s also a full-on kitchen installation with a sink, gas hob, fridge and plenty of cupboards and storage compartments. Factor in Mercedes’ trademark glitzy finish and the end result is a living space that is significantly more glamorous than most university halls’ of residence.
Strengths Easy access; flat floor; up to eight seats
Weaknesses Small boot with all seats in place; not much more spacious than a Ford Galaxy
Buying & owning
Everyday costs, plus how reliable and safe it is
Pricing is yet to be 100% confirmed for the facelifted model, but the outgoing V-Class doesn’t come cheap, and the latest version is sure to follow suit.
Whether you judge it against the similarly van-like Ford Tourneo and Peugeot Traveller, or regular MPVs such as the Ford Galaxy, the Mercedes is a much pricier option. Even the VW Caravelle, itself far from cheap, isn’t quite as costly to buy as the V-Class. As for the Mercedes V-Class Marco Polo campervan, it’s list price is eye-wateringly high, more so than VW’s Caravelle-based California.
For the best all-round value, go for the V220d. It combines strong enough performance with the best official fuel economy and CO2 emissions in the range. Bear in mind though, that the V-Class, as with the other van-based models, isn’t as good in these respects as regular MPVs, such as the Galaxy.
As a result the V-Class will cost you considerably more in diesel, as well as in Benefit-in-Kind (BIK) tax if you’re a company car user. On the plus side, the V-Class has the best residuals in this class, closely followed by the Caravelle; although the Mercedes is more expensive to service over a typical ownership period of three years and 36,000 miles.
The Sport model comes well equipped. Highlights include 18in alloy wheels, LED headlights, power-folding door mirrors, parking sensors front and rear with a reversing camera, a powered tailgate and sliding-rear doors, rear privacy glass, sat-nav, Bluetooth, cruise control and full nappa leather upholstery with heated front seats.
It’s hard to justify the AMG-Line version; all your extra outlay gets you is a set of 19in alloy wheels, sportier body styling, metallic paint and carbon fibre-look interior trim.
You can also get Exclusive trim, which sits above AMG Line and adds more luxurious, armchair-style seats for the middle row. However, since this will push the price up even further, it's even more difficult to recommend.
There are two Marco Polo versions available. The Marco Polo Horizon gives you two beds but few other campervan luxuries, while the version named simply Marco Polo gets the kitchenette.
Mercedes doesn’t have the most consistent reliability record, as was highlighted in the 2023 What Car? Reliability Survey. Mercedes finished near the bottom of the table, in 24th position, below Ford, Volkswagen and Seat. At least Mercedes provides a decent three-year, unlimited mileage manufacturer’s warranty, which should offer some reassurance.
Also positive is that the V-Class offers good crash protection, scoring the full five stars in Euro NCAP safety tests in 2014 – although more stringent tests have been introduced since then.
All models come with a driver fatigue monitoring and automatic emergency braking (AEB), while the optional Driver Assistance package includes adaptive cruise control, seatbelt pre-tensioning, blind spot warning and lane-keeping assistance.
Strengths Strong resale values; good standard equipment, strong array of safety kit
Weaknesses Eye-wateringly expensive; questionable reliability
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The V-Class will cost you more than most van-based MPV rivals – and that cost only increases if you go for the Marco Polo campervan version. Still, at least each version comes with lots of kit, with 18in alloy wheels, LED headlights and front and rear parking sensors coming on Sport models. Plus, the V-Class should hold onto its value well, meaning you should get a signficant percentage of your money back when you come to sell it.
Yes, the Mercedes V-Class can carry seven people as standard, or you can pay extra for a Long or Extra Long model, which come with an extra seat on the back row, turning the V-Class into an eight-seater. You can also opt to make the second row of seats more luxurious, by paying for seats which can massage you as you drive along, like those in the S-Class luxury limousine.
While the V-Class itself didn't feature in our 2023 Reliability Survey, Mercedes as a brand didn't do very well, coming 24th out of 32 car brands featured, and behind the likes of Ford, Seat and Volkswagen. At least Mercedes offers a three-year, unlimited mileage warranty on the V-Class should anything go wrong.
|RRP price range
|£71,605 - £90,825
|Number of trims (see all)
|Number of engines (see all)
|Available fuel types (which is best for you?)
|MPG range across all versions
|34.9 - 39.2
|Available doors options
|NaN year / No mileage cap
|Company car tax at 20% (min/max)
|£5,179 / £6,601
|Company car tax at 40% (min/max)
|£10,358 / £13,202