Mercedes-Benz V250 Avantgarde: Luxury By Large Measures

Cavernous, comfortable and conveniently configurable, the Mercedes-Benz V250 Avantgarde also proved to be a confident and comparatively quick drive, with balanced weighting and unexpected maneuverability and agility for its vast van-like proportions.

Replacing the outgoing Viano nameplate and re-adopting the V-Class moniker as of 2014, the latest generation of Mercedes-Benz’ highly practical large people carrier is better than ever, and makes a compelling argument as an alternative to a saloon or SUV. With more emphasis on design, luxury and technology, the new V-Class is an evolutionary improvement with noticeably better ride and cabin refinement, and handling ability and agility that was unexpected for a large van-based vehicle. Offered with a single smaller petrol engine in Jordan, the 2-litre turbocharged V250 offers better efficiency than its 3.5-litre V6 Viano predecessor.

A decidedly more charismatic and muscularly assertive design than its predecessor, the V-Class features an interplay between convex and concave shapes and surfaces at the sides and fascia, including more emphasized upper and lower creases along its flanks and smoother, better integrated bumper surfacing. Bearing strong familial resemblance to Mercedes’ passenger car model lines, the V-Class’ large upright grille features a three-dimensional tri-star badge flanked by twin chrome-like louvers and rising, stretched around headlights with a moodier aesthetic and LED elements that seem to frame the grille. A bulging bonnet and single louvre lower side intakes also lend more presence and elegance.

Driven in the longest Extra Long version of three available lengths, with extended 3200mm wheelbase and longer rear overhang, the V-Class’s features a very subtly descending roofline and low CD0.31 aerodynamics for efficiency and low wind noise. It’s long, tall and wide rear loading bay and body allow for hugely cavernous cargo and passenger space, among the best in the MPV and van segments, and simply unmatched by SUVs or estate cars. At the rear, the new model features smaller, better integrated rear lights than the Viano, a low loading lip, electric tailgate and smaller glass hatch opening for more convenience for loading smaller items.

Offered in most markets with a 2.15-litre turbodiesel engine, the sole petrol V250 variant, available in Jordan, is powered by Mercedes’ now familiar and effective 2-litre turbocharged direct injection four-cylinder. Replacing its Viano predecessor’s 3.5-litre naturally-aspirated V6, the V250 develops 208BHP at 5,500rpm and 258lb/ft torque throughout 1200-4,000rpm, and is approximately capable of 0-100km/h in 9.4-seconds and a 210km/h top speed. At a 20BHP disadvantage to the Viano yet gaining 4lb/ft, the V250 nevertheless feels the more responsive, suitable engine and certainly more efficient engine, and benefits from a well-sorted and brilliantly geared version of Mercedes’ also familiar 7-speed automatic gearbox, in place of the Viano’s 5-speed.

With quick-spooling turbo and responsive aggressively geared first and second ratios, the V250 feels sprightly and responsive from standstill, with turbo lag all but seemingly absent when driven in Comfort or Sport gearbox response mode. In Economy mode, revs are kept lower and gears higher, so naturally lag becomes slightly more apparent, but efficiency improves, and also benefits from taller top gears.  Brawny, lively and versatile with muscular mid-range pull for inclines, overtaking and hauling, the V250’s engine belies a hefty 2055kg estimated weight, and is smooth, refined and willing to be revved hard to its redline, where engine roar is slightly more evident.

Another significant benefit courtesy of the V250’s downsized engine is that its front end feels noticeably lighter than its predecessor, with a crisper and more eager turn-in than expected from a large MPV, let alone one that is van-based. Tidy into corners with good front grip and little understeer when pushed too aggressively, the V250 Extra long is surprisingly agile through switchbacks, with its front engine and rear drive balance working in its favour. Meanwhile its long wheelbase provides good rear grip, and predictably telegraphed oversteer if provoked by a pivot to tighten a cornering line, or with too much throttle coming out of a corner.

Similar to other Mercedes passenger cars, the V250’s electric-assisted rack and pinion steering is positive, precise and eager to self-centre. And with better feel and feedback than some cars and many MPVs, vans and SUVs, the V250’s steering, upright driving position and balanced chassis, one feels involved and in the middle of the action. With a tauter and more rigid and refined feel to its construction and driving dynamic than the Viano, the V250 rides on independent rear suspension with variable dampers that soften to allow for supple ride comfort and tighten  for comparably good body lean control through corners and to press wheels tautly into the tarmac.

Stable and refined at speed for its segment, the V250 is however in its comfort zone when cruising, while its optional Avantgarde trim 245/45R19 tyres provide a good compromise between control and comfort, and braking is reassuring. Riding well and smooth, the V250 can wallow very slightly over particularly choppy road surfacing, and on heavy braking, there is slight brake dive – both of which were less than expected. With a tight 12.5-meter turning circle, the V250 Extra Long is more maneuverable than its size suggests, but given its length and forward driving position, one often needs to turn-in later than intuitive when driving a car.

Enormous at 5,370mm long, 1,928mm wide and 1,880mm tall, the V-Class Extra Long is however relatively easily maneuverable, especially when moving forward. To help with rear visibility, which can be tricky owing to size and height, the V250 Avantgarde version driven featured a 360° and reversing camera parking package. Meanwhile for overtaking and lane-changing maneuvers, in which lower cars aren’t completely visible in big blind spots and, optional blind spot and lane assistance systems were invaluable. Over shoulder visibility is better when second row seats are configured to be front-facing, while bigger van-like side mirrors would be a welcome addition, even if at the expense of aerodynamics and aesthetics.

Refined, luxurious and superbly comfortable inside, the V250 Avantgarde has a classy and modern ambiance, with a contemporary dashboard, leather upholstery and steering, user-friendly infotainment and convenience features, soft textures, good fit and finish, tinted rear windows, and contemporary car-like dashboard and steering. In terms of practicality, the luxurious Avantgarde version features plenty of storage spaces and two – rather than one – huge electric and remote operable sliding doors to easily access the rear two seat rows. Accommodating 8-passengers with two rear bench seats, the 7-seat Avantgarde however featured twin middle row captain’s seats and a table unit, all of which are detachable and configurable along twin long flush rails.

Specifications: Mercedes-Benz V250 Avantgarde (Extra Long)

  • Engine: 2-litre, turbocharged, in-line 4-cylinders
  • Bore x stroke: 83.1 x 91.9mm
  • Compression ratio: 9.8:1
  • Valve-train: 16-valve, DOHC, direct injection
  • Gearbox: 7-speed automatic, rear-wheel-drive
  • Power, BHP (PS) [kW]: 208 (211) [155] @5,500rpm
  • Specific power: 104.5BHP/litre
  • Torque, lb/ft (Nm): 258 (350) @ 1,200-4,000rpm
  • Specific torque: 175.8Nm/litre
  • 0-100km/h: 9.4-seconds
  • Maximum speed: 210km/h
  • Fuel tank: 70-litres
  • Length: 5,370mm
  • Width: 1,928mm
  • Height: 1,880mm
  • Wheelbase: 3,200mm
  • Track, F/R: 1,666 / 1,646mm
  • Overhang, F/R: 895 / 1,045mm
  • Aerodynamic drag co-efficiency: 0.31
  • Unladen weight: 2055kg (estimate)
  • Steering: Electric-assisted, rack and pinion
  • Turning circle: 12.5-meters
  • Suspension F/R: MacPherson struts / semi-trailing arms, coil springs, anti-roll bars, variable damping
  • Brakes: Ventilated discs
  • Tyres: 245/45R19