When only the best will do

In the land of the commercial vehicle, the Mercedes-Benz V 250 d Avantgarde is as hedonistic as they come. However, says GAVIN MYERS, it does offer notable capability to the discerning van buyer for whom only the best will do.

Let’s be honest, does anyone reealy need an eight-seat van-based people mover with levels of luxury high enough to please the most demanding minister of parliament, especially when it costs
R1 195 040? That price, incidentally, makes the V 250 d Avantgarde the most expensive light commercial vehicle (LCV) yet to grace the pages of FOCUS.

In the rough and tumble world of commercial vehicles, the Mercedes-Benz V-Class is an anomaly – a Vito, for example, would move as many people as quickly and easily. There is, however, always room to offer more, always a buyer more demanding than the last, always the top echelon to breech – and this is where the top-of-the-range V 250 d Avantgarde finds its anomalous niche.    

One may as well call it the S-Class of vans…

Much like its luxury saloon sibling, the V-Class has a commanding road presence. Decked out as ours was – in Ice White with the contrasting standard privacy glass, and optional AMG Line addenda – it’s certainly the most commanding presence any van could have. It simply speaks status.

However, it’s when one hops aboard – preferably via either of the electrically actuated sliding side doors – that the V 250 d Avantgarde fully reveals its hand. The five facing rear seats (arranged two-three) are individually adjustable and trimmed in soft Nappa leather, while rear passengers enjoy independent climate control (vents are roof-mounted, some pillar-mounted vents would be nice, too) and plenty storage space.

Practicality is aided by a 610-litre load compartment, which features a nifty foldaway shelf that houses two collapsible crates.

While the ambient lighting creates a classy ambiance, the optional (R35 307) panoramic sunroof lets additional light into the darkly trimmed cabin – as well as some extra ventilation (the rear windows are otherwise fixed in place). And as we’re on the topic of extras, an additional R35 206 will add a refrigerator to the centre console.

Ride comfort in any of the rear passenger seats is exemplary – supported by the soft rear suspension and isolated from the workings of that at the front. However, with five people on board, the rear-facing passengers (those in the second row) may find their legs slightly cramped.

Those in the front don’t miss out, either. The standard, high-set, heated and ventillated seats ensure they are kept snug, although a little more thigh support would enhance the comfort that final degree. Not to worry, though, as there is enough to keep their minds otherwise occupied.

The V 250 d Avantgarde features the Command Online infotainment system linked to superb 15-speaker, 640-W surround sound by Burmester. Through its eight-inch screen the driver has access to live traffic info, a DVD player and 80 GB hard drive.

Safety is well catered for, too, with electronic equipment that includes the Driving Assist Package (Pre-Safe system, Collision Prevent Assist, Blind Spot Assist and Lane Keeping Assist); Attention Assist; Active Park Assist; and LED headlamps. Window airbags can be spec’d for the rear passenger area.

Possibly the least important person in the V-Class would be the driver. At least his job of piloting the
V 250 d is an easy one. With 140 kW and 440 Nm on tap, the 2,1-litre turbodiesel provides effortless and responsive thrust – even if it isn’t as smooth and whisper quiet as most current turbodiesel engines. Despite initially feeling large and heavy, the V 250 d is actually rather easy to drive and nimble when on the move.

And so to answer our opening question… No, one doesn’t need a van that pushes R1,2-million once a handful of options are added. However, the V 250 d is not a van of needs – it’s a seven-seat shuttle for those who want more than the rest. There is no other mainstream van like it.

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Focus on Transport

FOCUS on Transport and Logistics is one of the oldest and most respected transport and logistics publications in southern Africa.
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