WHAT DOES one do with a R1.8m car, drive or just stare it?
Silly question you may argue, but what do you really have to conjure when you’re told to pick up the latest Mercedes Benz V-Class 300d and traverse the length and breadth of your country, as we open up following the COVID-19 hardlock down?
Yes, just like a normal person you get goosebumps and wonder what if anything happens to it, then what and so, on?
But with God’s grace nothing sinister happened only to report the R1.8m V Class 300d was a headturner and an envy for every human being. So what happens in China remains in Vegas…
From Joburg to Kimberly from Bloemnfontein to Durban- the V showed its class, style, comfort, safety and oh, the added space. Yes, it’s a long base… And it claims 220km/h top speed and sub –eight seconds 0-100km/h sprint time (an additional 30 N.m under hard acceleration “overtorque” function, as Mercedes calls it).
The powerful derivative was launched in SA after much fanfare and although some might argue the price (its their right) the V Class 300d ain’t for the faint-hearted.
Its either you go big or shut…
The Stuttgart based firm has upped the ante by introducing 3 trim grades including Avantgarde, Avantgarde AMG Line and Exclusive.
You may ask- what are the new changes included in the V 300d here we go: a front bumper and air inlet design, while the grille sports 2 silver slats and a revised black mesh. Opt for the AMG-Line trim and the grille gains diamond-pattern chrome pins that imbue the V-Class with a bit more visual punch. A range of new exterior colours and revised wheel designs (ranging from 17- to 19-inches in size) is also available.
As we hit one province after the other, one could not help but realize it has been powered with Merc’s OM 654 2.0-litre turbodiesel tuned to deliver 176 kW and 500 Nm and is equipped with a 9-speed automatic transmission.
The V-Class 300d can seat up to 8 people and 2 individual seats and a 3-seater bench is standard but passengers can arrange or add seating as required depending on your preference.
Talk of seating preference, we had to sweet-talk a Benz dealership in Lenasia to help re-configure the seating arrangement and guess what- they obliged without a blink, following a nasty behavior that was displayed by previous dealer in Bryanston who demanded ‘R1200’ to help us with the seating. If you’re reading this article, your attitude stinks- finish & klaar!
Seats are electrically adjustable (and heated/cooled) driver and front passenger seats.
Key standard features include 19-inch alloy wheels, front and rear climate control air conditioning, integrated navigation, front and rear park distance control, a rearview camera, cruise control, multi-function steering wheel and electronically operated side mirrors and windows.
Exclusive trim, features such as a sliding panoramic sunroof, adaptive cruise control and a 360-degree surround-view camera are fitted as standard and small refrigerator in the center console.
As for the ‘bus’ interior, the instrument dials have been refreshed, as have the air vents (they now sport a turbine-look, which will be instantly recognisable to owners of the latest A-Class).
What’s more, there’s an updated range of upholstery and trim options available, including Tartufo Nappa leather. Incidentally, it has been confirmed that Mercedes-Benz SA offers the optional middle-row luxury seats in the local market.
It hovered around 9.0-litres /100km/h a definite win for this Multi Purpose Vehicle.
Driving is akin to luxury train such as Rovos or Blue Train- thanks to Merc’s airmatic suspension that allowed it to glide speedhumps and potholes with ease as it also helps with minimizing body roll and imabalances as a result of cross-winds as we invaded KZN.
Safety features offered on the V-Class has been bolstered with the addition of Active Brake Assist, which detects impending collisions and, if necessary, will intervene by automatically applying the brakes if the driver fails to react to visual and acoustic warnings.
High-Beam Assist Plus has also been added and other notable safety features include Crosswind Assist, Attention Assist, as well as the fitment of 6 airbags, ABS with EBD and electronic stability- and traction control.
The V-Class ride-handling balance was a highlight; it doesn’t feel like you’re driving a van – in fact, it’s a quite ‘bus’-like to pilot- if you may…
The steering is perfectly weighted and provides positive feedback. Given the V-Class shape, one would expect considerable body roll when cornering, but it turns in with stability and delivers a smooth, comfortable ride (it should cope well with harsher South African road surfaces).
The only snag: we found rearward and blind-spot visibility less than ideal, which means drivers will need to be more vigilant when crossing lanes or reversing.
But it remains the go-to choice if you are in the market for a luxurious and stylish family or business MPV/people-mover.
The less said about what happened at various areas we visited, the better- ‘in case I incriminate myself’. Amen!
V 300d retails for R1.8m -though other derivatives are available with different prices.
Performance 1-10 (9)
Diesel 1-10 (8)
Image SLM (The R1.8m ‘bus’ that hogged headlines throughout mzansi).