With this new V-Class, it’s mainly about the engine. The spate of new turbodiesels from many manufacturers has seen the usual shedding of cubic inches but they have gained more kilowatts. In the case of the V300d, it’s a marginal drop from 2,15 to 2,0 litres but power is way up to 176 kW. Looking back to our test of the V220d, we thought the vehicle was underpowered at 120 kW. No such worry here as this bus flies. It is also quieter and smoother than the old engine. This increase in power brings an increase in gear ratios, too. Transmission is now a 9G tronic which is arguably more than necessary but is the way of the world until electric cars render the gearbox redundant. This all translates to impressive acceleration apart from an initial lag. Although, this is probably computer-controlled to prevent wheelspin from a sudden pull away. Immediately after, however, this bus rockets towards the horizon. Overtaking is a piece of cake and to stick to the legal speed limit, it’s best to employ cruise control with radar assistance to keep pace with the car in front. Fortunately, the handling matches the urge and cornering is excellent, thanks to the sportier suspension fitted to the Exclusive. Braking is equally excellent considering its bulky 2 542 kg which is 70 kg heavier than our previous test of the 220d and parking comes easy via a 360-degree camera with a tight turning circle.
Considering the current global witch hunt on diesel, the only way to appease the naysayers is with the added complexity of AdBlue, a urea chemical diesel additive to reduce emissions.
As before, the seating is luxurious and widely adjustable. The snag is that the Nappa leather-clad seats must be removed completely before they can be reversed, which is rather laborious. In this version, there are three seats at the rear and two in the centre, separated by a pop-up console with fold-out tray tables. Four Isofix mounts are fitted to the two middle seats as well as the outside seat right at the back while rear windows are hinged and can be opened by rear passenger switches.
Two of the most impressive features are temperature-related. A fridge compartment is located inside the centre compartment between the two front seats; a bottle of water left there for an hour or two will drop to an ice-cold three degrees Celsius … great for hot summer days. Then there is a dual cupholder behind the centre compartment that holds two different sized drinks that can be cooled or warmed at the touch of a button.
Both sliding doors and the large tailgate are electrically driven and, on this flagship, the rearmost windows can be hinged open to increase airflow for the rear passengers. A double panoramic glass roof is shaded by a pair of fabric screens. These are also electrically operated but do let some sunlight through. On the subject of sunlight, one of the few criticisms of Merc’s van is the brushed aluminium surround of the mouse-pad controller. This is arguably where the column-mounted gear lever should be sited. This surface is almost horizontal and reflects sunlight into the front occupants’ eyes for a good part of the day.
A sturdy rear parcel shelf hides luggage from sight and conceals two, pop-up plastic crates for holding shopping and the like.
Previous dislikes remain, such as the creaks in the body structure around the large sliding doors and the awkward seat removal. Otherwise, the Mercedes-Benz V300d shows a significant advancement in ride, refinement, and urge. The new bus deserves a GT badge because it is great at touring in grand style and at a grand pace; one that is perfectly suited to high-end tour operators or hotels in overdrive. Not only is there plenty of power in reserve, but it is difficult not to return a consumption of 10,00 L/100 km. Our fuel route registered 8,90 L/100 km. This is despite the huge frontal area of the feature-laden superstructure. Impressive.
Price: R1 799 060
0-100 km/h: 10,20 seconds
Top speed: 220 km/h
Power: 176 kW
Torque: 500 N.m
CAR fuel index: 10,60 L/100 km