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SITGES, Spain – Sometimes, facelifts are just that: purely visual tweaks often centred on the vehicle's countenance. But occasionally an automaker also uses the opportunity presented by a mid-cycle update to introduce under-the-skin changes. And the latter is exactly what has happened with the refreshed Mercedes-Benz V-Class, which gains a new family of powerplants. Unfortunately, though, we won’t see these latest powerplants in South Africa ... at least, not right away (more on that in a bit).

Since launching in 2014, around 209 000 units of the V-Class have been sold around the world. Over the years, many improvements have been made in the areas of comfort as well as noise, vibration and harshness (NVH), while engine efficiencies have continually been implemented. Still, the team from Stuttgart’s van division admits its mandate for this latest facelift was not to make radical changes but rather to build on the model’s strengths.

Thus, the German brand must have been quite satisfied with what it had, because the alterations are mainly subtle, with the one exception mentioned above. Refinement has been improved and the frontal treatment has been altered (especially the lower air dam design), although the latter varies according to model. There’s now also an AMG Line package that has an even sportier looking front end, complete with a diamond pattern grille.

LED lighting can be specified, as can Nappa leather upholstery inside. New exterior paint colours have been added, too, while active brake assist is now offered along with automatic high-beam activation and dipping functions. While a number of seating configurations are offered, the facelift brings new optionally available "luxury" seats for the first rear row, complete with reclining and back massage functions as well as air conditioning.

New engines

But the main reason for this international launch was to show off the newly designed powertrain options. With diesel engines under the spotlight thanks to ever-stricter emission control regulations coming into play in various parts of the world, some manufacturers have opted to ditch oil-burners altogether. Not Mercedes-Benz, though, which still sees the beauty in the super-low fuel consumption potential of the diesel cycle.

The Stuttgart-based firm has thus increased its efforts to further reduce noxious emissions, rolling out a new family of engines, codenamed OM654 and each displacing 2,0 litres.

Mercedes-Benz will offer a V220d, a V250d and a new flagship, the V300d. Peak outputs have been kept largely the same as before (120 kW and 140 kW for the first two, and 176 kW/500 N.m, plus an “over-torque function” delivering an additional 30 N.m for a few seconds, for the V300d). As an attestation to the design efficiency, the claimed fuel economy of the range-topper is a mere 6,0 L/100 km. Of course, we all know the future is electric and Mercedes-Benz will soon be launching a fully electric MPV, too.

After spending some time interviewing one of the engine designers, I learnt about some of the design features of the new powerplants, with the different outputs achieved by tweaking the turbocharger and fuel injection. We had the advantage of viewing an engine mounted on a stand; no longer can you see cylinders or cylinder heads (these are all hidden behind ancillaries). If you could look inside, you would notice some of the design changes, including aluminium barrels and steel pistons, for example.

On one side of the engine (to minimise heat loss) sits the diesel particulate filter, selective catalytic reduction converter and exhaust gas recirculation plumbing. The design includes AdBlue urea injection to further reduce noxious residues. Many sensors are fitted to measure temperature and oxygen levels, while close to the engine is a new intercooler, much more compact than the traditional air-cooled radiator. Another plus is the large oil sump that holds nine litres, allowing the extension of service intervals to 40 000 km.

But what about SA?

Now for the not-totally-unexpected bad news. These newly designed OM654 engines will not be available in South Africa when the updated V-Class touches down in the third quarter of 2019. A combination of affordability and fuel quality means local buyers are instead facing an unquantified wait. Still, South Africans are used to waiting, so we will stick with the existing units as well as the 7G-tronic transmission (the new engines are now mated to 9G-tronic units).

On the test route, on the wonderfully twisty mountainous roads, the new nine-speed gearbox changed ratios rather too often, so perhaps the old ‘box is still the more user-friendly option. This effect is emphasised in the sportiest of driving modes, with plenty of up- and down-shifting taking place as you tackle the corners. Comfort mode is far better suited to this type of vehicle. Interestingly, there is also a manual mode, where the driver can make use of paddle shifters.

The ride quality is excellent, with top-rate absorption over speed bumps, even on the largest diameter alloys (measuring 19 inches). Steering feel, too, cannot be faulted. The only negative we witnessed on the drive was restricted visibility due to the large A- and B-pillars. That, and the fact these new engines aren’t going to be immediately available in SA...
CAPE TOWN, Western Cape – The darling of upmarket hotels and affluent families with multiple offspring has recently been given a facelift. Yes, the updated Mercedes-Benz V-Class has arrived in South Africa. Sporting a few subtle styling changes, the upmarket MPV now features styling that is more in line with the current Benz range.

So, what exactly is new? A fresh bumper design (which also houses redesigned air inlets) lends the luxury bus a cleaner, more athletic look. Optioning the AMG-Line package adds more visual excitement, with lovely 19-inch light-alloy AMG wheels, an AMG boot lid spoiler and the striking diamond grille being the highlights of the R55 413 package. With vehicles of this sort, styling normally plays second fiddle to practicality and interior space. Despite this, the V-Class is aesthetically pleasing, and manages to look classy and upmarket without being too flashy.

Stepping inside the simply cavernous interior, the first thing you notice is the sheer amount of space offered up by the V-Class. As a passenger in the middle row, I was impressed not only by the seemingly endless supply of legroom and headroom, but also the airiness of the cabin. The optional panoramic glass roof certainly helps with this, the large glass panels allowing light to flow into the cabin. Although it's nice to have, at just over R32 000 it is rather pricey. The seats in the middle row are comfortable too, and have the ability to recline and slide fore and aft. Individual armrests add an extra degree of comfort.

The V-Class exhibits refined road manners, with a comfortable ride cushioning passengers from bumps and potholes. This is particularly impressive considering the V-Class I drove in was equipped with 19-inch wheels. On smooth tarmac, the cabin is quiet, making the passenger experience a relaxed one. On the convenience front, the middle row boasts dedicated climate controls, as well as a nifty adjustable cabinet (located between the two captain's chairs), which houses cupholders and useful trays. The final row hasn’t been forgotten either. Passengers seated back there will enjoy plenty of space (enough for two adults), as well as the added benefit of vent windows.

Up front, the first thing you notice is the stylish layout of the cabin. Like many other Benzes, the dashboard is a visual delight. Smooth, flowing lines are complemented by lashings of silver finishes. While the latter are lovely to look at, they do feel a bit creaky compared with the rest of the interior, which is suitably upmarket. Thankfully, there are other choices available. Unlike many cars, these luxurious materials are carried into the rear sections of the cabin too, with soft-touch plastics covering most surfaces of the rear quarters, including the sliding doors.

Driving the V-Class is also a relaxing experience, the 2,1-litre four-cylinder turbodiesel providing enough poke to get this luxury bus going. This engine powers all three variants, with varying power and torque outputs. In the V250d I sampled, the engine produces 140 kW and 440 N.m of torque. Coincidentally, the V250d is the most powerful offering available in South Africa. The local arm of the German luxury car maker has elected to retain the same engines used in the pre-facelift model. Overseas, a V300d is available with 176 kW and 500 N.m.

On the move, the 2,1-litre can feel slightly gruff, but it soon quietens down. The aforementioned power figures move the V250d forward at a respectable pace, taking a claimed 9,1 seconds to reach 100 km/h. While that certainly is an impressive figure for a heavy diesel-powered MPV, it isn’t really of much importance to many potential buyers. What will be of importance to them, however, is how stable the V-Class feels, even at high speeds. For a car that stands nearly two metres tall, the lack of body roll through corners is commendable. It’s certainly no canyon carver, but it feels closer to a large SUV than a clumsy van in terms of cornering stability.

As seemingly well-rounded as the V-Class is, there are a few chinks in its armour. The middle-row seats are configurable, allowing them to face in either direction. However, to adjust them, the entire seat needs to be taken out and put back in the opposite direction. This does require a bit of muscle. Of course, the Merc's closest rival, the Volkswagen Caravelle, simply requires a lever to be pulled, making changing the seat direction far easier and less frustrating.

While not a hardship, it would be nice if the V-Class were to come standard with Apple CarPlay. The current infotainment system still allows passengers to play music via their smartphones, but for a car costing around R1-million, I was expecting CarPlay. Lastly, while I certainly like the way the V-Class looks, its glamourous exterior could be a touch too ministerial for some, especially when painted black and fitted with large wheels.

There's no denying the V-Class is the most luxurious MPV on sale in SA today. It certainly looks the part, with an interior to soothe the brow of even the most stressed VIP. The ride quality is superb, and so too is the performance and handling. However, starting at R1 027 686 for a standard V250d, it's expensive. For nearly R100 000 less, a similarly equipped Caravelle could be yours. It certainly won’t have the clout of the Three-pointed Star or the luxurious interior, though.

However, for even less money, you could have a Kia Grand Sedona. Spacious, comfortable and able to seat seven (or eight in EX+ guise), the Grand Sedona represents unbeatable value at R623 995 for a base model. It’s well equipped, comfortable and should last a lifetime. It’s nearly R400 000 less than the Mercedes, too.

On a sensible and practical level, nothing beats the Kia. Yet, if you want your practicality infused with luxury and elegance, there really isn’t anything that touches the V-Class. Yes, it's expensive, but it backs up its asking price with both style and substance. Plus, there's the added fun of watching other motorists wondering whether a government official or a pop star is hiding behind the privacy glass.
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Manufacturer Specifications

Standard - standard Optional - optional
  • Leather upholstery: Standard
  • Seats quantity: 6 (opt 7 / opt 8)
  • Air conditioning: front + rear
  • Climate control automatic air conditioning: front + rear
  • Lumbar support adjustment: opt driver / opt front passenger
  • Antilock braking system (ABS): Standard
  • Electronic brake distribution (EBD): Standard
  • Brake assist (BAS/EBA): Standard
  • Traction control: Standard
  • Stability control: Standard
  • Tyre pressure sensor monitor deflation detection system: Standard
  • Driver airbag: Standard
  • Front passenger airbag: Standard
  • Front side airbags: Standard
  • Rear side airbags: Optional
  • Curtain airbags: Standard
  • Airbag quantity: 6 (opt 8)
  • Lane departure warning: Optional
  • Lane change blindspot warning assist monitor: Optional
  • Attention assist rest assist break alert: Standard
  • Automatic drive away locking: Standard
  • Directional turning headlights: Optional
  • Adaptive headlights varying light distribution: Optional
  • Emergency brake hazardlights: emergency-brake flashing brake lights
  • Engine auto Stop Start idle stop ecostop: Standard
  • Hillstart assist hillholder: Standard
  • Alloy wheelsrims: Standard
  • Sports suspension: Optional
  • Driving mode switch eg sport comfort: Economy, Comfort, Sport, Manual
  • Power steering: Standard
  • Multifunction steering wheel controls: Standard
  • On board computer multi information display: Standard
  • Navigation: Standard
  • Cruise control: std (opt adaptive)
  • Active adaptive cruise control: Optional
  • Bluetooth connectivity: Standard
  • CD player: Standard
  • USB port: Standard
  • Powersocket 12V: front + boot
  • Central locking: remote
  • Remote central locking: Standard
  • Electric windows: front (rear fixed)
  • Rain sensor auto wipers: Standard
  • Auto dim interior mirror: Standard
  • Electric adjust mirrors: Standard
  • Heated exterior mirrors: Standard
  • Auto dimexterior mirrors: Optional
  • Daytime driving running lights: Standard
  • Light sensor auto on off lights: Standard
  • Xenon headlights: opt LED
  • Highbeam assist: Optional
  • Highlevel 3rd brakelight: Standard
  • Rear fog lamps lights: Standard
  • Park distance control PDC: front + rear + park assist (opt rear camera / opt surround view)
  • Camera for park distance control: opt rear
  • Towbar trailer hitch: removable
  • Metallic pearl escent paint: Optional
  • Fuel Type: diesel
  • Fuel range average: 1250 km
  • Driven wheels: rear
  • Driven wheels quantity: 2
  • Gearratios quantity: 7
  • Gearshift: automatic
  • Transmission type: automatic
  • Transmission name: 7G-Tronic Plus
  • Gear shift paddles: Standard
  • Electromechanical parking brake: Standard
  • Front tyres: 225/55 R17 (opt 245/45 R19)
  • Reartyres: 225/55 R17 (opt 245/45 R19)
  • Spare wheel size full: std 16-inch
  • Electric sliding doors: opt right side
  • Length: 5140 mm
  • Width excl mirrors incl mirrors: 1928-2249 mm
  • Height: 1880 mm
  • Wheel base: 3200 mm
  • Turning circle wheels body: 11.8 m
  • Load volume / capacity: 542 L
  • Unladen/tare/kerb weight: 2145 kg
  • Load carrying capacity / payload: 905
  • Gross weight (GVM): 3050 kg
  • Towing capacity - unbraked: 750
  • Towing capacity - braked: 2000
  • Fuel tank capacity (incl reserve): 75l
  • Fuel consumption urban: 6.9 l/100km
  • Fuel consumption extra urban: 5.5 l/100km
  • Fuel consumption average: 6.0 l/100km
  • CO2 emissions average: 158g/km
  • Emission control phase Euro EU level: 6
  • Power maximum: 140 kW
  • Power maximum total: 140 kW
  • Power peak revs: 3800 r/min
  • Power to weight ratio: 65.3 kW/ton
  • Torque maximum: 440 Nm
  • Torque peak revs: 1400-2400 r/min
  • Torque maximum total: 440 Nm
  • Torque to weight ratio: 205.1 Nm/ton
  • Acceleration 0-100 kmh: 9.1s
  • Maximum top speed: 206 km/h
  • Engine position/ location: front
  • Engine capacity: 2143 cc
  • Engine size: 2.1l
  • enginedetailshort: 2.1TD
  • Engine + detail: 2.1 turbo diesel
  • Cylinder layout: inline
  • Cylinders: 4
  • Cylinder layout + quantity: i4
  • Valves per cylinder: 4
  • Valves quantity: 16
  • Turbocharger: Standard
  • Warranty time (years): 2
  • Warranty distance (km): unlimited km
  • Maintenance plan: Standard
  • Maintenance plan time (years): 6
  • Maintenance plan distance (km): 100000 km
  • Service interval indicator: Standard
  • Service interval (distance): service interval indicator (max 40000) km
  • Brand: Mercedes-Benz
  • Status: c
  • Segment: passenger car
  • MMcode: 440950541
  • MMVariant: V250 BLUETECH A/T
  • Introdate: 2016-02-01
  • DuoportarecordID: MercV-Cl1e12

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Mercedes-Benz V-Class V250d for sale in Pretoria from one of's apporoved car dealerships
Used V-Class V250d availbale from the following auto dealer:
McCarthy Mercedes Benz Wonderboom used car dealership located in: Pretoria, Gauteng, South Africa

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