Mercedes-Benz has evidently been confused with the naming and positioning of its MPV range. The Vito, launched as a commercial van back in 1996, spawned a passenger-spec variant called V-Klasse, which for its second generation was renamed Viano, only to be called the V-Class for the third generation. To add to the confusion, the same vehicle was called the Metris in the US and Canada markets. Then there was the R-Class, which couldn’t muster the kind of demand that they had expected despite an AMG version (seriously!) being offered. Anyway, since 2014, the Stuttgart automaker seems to have settled with the V-Class moniker.

Despite its amazing utility and practicality credentials, the Viano hadn’t been a popular choice for families in the Middle East. With the introduction of the new V-Class, Mercedes ditched the previous diesel powertrain in favour of a smoother 211bhp, 350Nm four-cylinder turbocharged petrol engine, hoping to widen its base from the traditional fleet and airport/hotel shuttle clientele. For 2019, Mercedes has introduced a few upgrades aimed at keeping the model fresh and relevant in a market skewed heavily in favour of SUVs.

 

Photos: Stefan Lindeque

Changes include a revised front-end design, new exterior colour options, updated interior and a host of driver assistance features. The restyled front bumper, along with larger air intakes and a new radiator grille, lends the V-Class a wider stance. While the previous models were only offered in black and white, Mercedes has introduced a handful of new shades including steel blue metallic, hyacinth red metallic, graphite grey metallic and selenite grey metallic. This is again an evident sign of the efforts to move away from the fleet business and make inroads into the family car base. The 2019 model also sees four new light-alloy wheel designs including 5-twin-spoke 17-inch light-alloy wheels painted in black with a high-sheen finish, 18-inch light-alloy wheels in tremolite grey with a high-sheen finish and 5-twin-spoke design or in black with a high-sheen finish and 5-spoke design, and black-painted 19-inch 10-spoke light-alloy wheels with a high-sheen finish for the range-topper.

The cabin is biased towards passenger comfort, while retaining the generous room and practicality of a minivan. Upholstery can be specced in Lugano leather or nappa leather, with colour option being black and silk beige, along with the Santos black fabric option. The choice of interior trim elements include piano lacquer, ebony wood, carbon fibre and brushed aluminium. The optionally available luxury seats for the first rear row offer a fully reclining function, back massage and climate control. The family oriented approach also sees new safety features including the optional Active Brake Assist that can recognise a risk of collision with a vehicle ahead and warn or even autonomously brake, along with Highbeam Assist Plus, Crosswind Assist, and Attention Assist among others.

Despite the tweaks and upgrades for this model, there’s no masking the fact that the V-Class is a slab-sided minivan. However, if you are able to look beyond the exterior and the body style, it is as luxurious and practical a family mover as any of the premium SUVs in the market now. And with a starting price of DhXxxx, it makes financial sense too.