The old Mercedes Viano was feeling like a car from another era compared to some of the recent MPVs on the market. To bring things into the 21st century Mercedes has launched this: the all-new V-Class.
It certainly looks smarter, both inside and out. Its nose is shaped by the current Mercedes look, with a prominent two-blade grille incorporating that famous three-pointed star, flanked by headlights containing daytime running lights. However, there’s still no escaping that rather van-like side profile.
Inside is where things really improve over the Viano, with a swish new cabin that brings the kind of finish you expect from a Mercedes-Benz. It’s well specified, too, with the Comand infotainment system found in Mercedes’ saloon cars, sat-nav, leather seats, privacy glass, and parking assist all included.
Six airbags come as standard, but only protect the front seat occupants, and you’ll need to pay extra for safety kit such as lane assist and blind spot warning.
Despite carrying over of the old 2.1-litre diesel engine, emissions are down to 166g/km of CO2 and the combined fuel consumption is up to 49.6mpg – both decent for such a large car.
What’s the Mercedes V250 Bluetec SE like inside?
Impressive. The curvy dashboard looks thoroughly modern and has an abundance high-quality materials and top-notch switchgear. Compared to the Ford Tourneo, it feels like you’ve had an upgrade from economy to business class.
There’s a good range of movement to the steering wheel and supportive driver’s seat, and although the seating position is high, tall drivers will have no issues with head room.
The high seat gives you a great view directly ahead, but thick windscreen pillars limit your view at junctions. Meanwhile, your rear vision is obscured by the third row of seats, but standard parking sensors and a rear-view camera are on hand to help out in with manoeuvres.
Wide electric sliding rear doors create easy access to the two middle seats. Each comes with a reclining backrest, two armrests and a folding picnic table, and offer plenty of room to stretch out. If you tilt these seats forward, it opens the way to the third row, which provides space for three more adults to relax.
The second and third-row seats slide back and forth on rails that run the length of the floor. The seats can also be removed entirely to create a van-like space, but they’re cumbersome things to move, lift and store.
In seven-seat mode boot space isn’t as big as you might imagine. At best it would take only a couple of large suitcases – a Ford Tourneo would fit roughly twice that – and there’s also an awkward raised storage box to contend with.
There's the option to upgrade the standard car's space to a V-Class 'Long' model and improve boot space, but this will cost you extra.
What’s the Mercedes V250 Bluetec like to drive?
The revised engine is a marked improvement. This is the higher-powered 2.1 diesel version, and it pulls hard from 1500rpm, working well with the smooth-shifting seven-speed auto gearbox to help outperform both the Caravelle and the Tourneo.
You'll feel some vibration through the controls and it isn’t the quietest engine when revved, but it's smooth enough not to jar.
Strip back the fancy interior and this is still a van at heart. On broken surfaces the ride is lumpy and it never feels agile, with slow steering and plenty of body lean in bends. It’s no worse than its two main van-based rivals, but a purpose-built MPV like the Ford Galaxy is a much more satisfying drive.
There’s also plenty of suspension noise to contend with, although road and wind noise are acceptable.
Should I buy one?
This V250 SE is roomy with a smart cabin, but it is pricey. At over £43k, it’s more than an equivalent VW Caravelle and £10k more than a Ford Toureno – and that has two extra seats.
Ultimately, unless you have a specific need for any of these van-based MPVs, we’d recommend buying a Ford Galaxy or Seat Alhambra instead. They’re almost as big inside, but much cheaper to buy and run, and far better to drive.
What Car? says...
Mercedes V250 Bluetec SE
Engine size 2.1-litre diesel
Price from £43,250
Torque 325lb ft
0-62mph 9.1 seconds
Top speed 129mph
Fuel economy 44.8mpg