Mercedes-Benz V250d Avantegarde road test review
FAMILY road trips are often territory for the brave.
Confined spaces, boring scenery and kids who take pleasure in the sport of sibling button-pushing can make long hauls even tougher.
On this occasion we rode into battle aboard a luxurious steed in the new Mercedes-Benz V250. Vans aren't traditionally coveted territory, yet the V250 borders on sexy.
Starting from $85,500 it's not the cheapest van going around, and there is still the Mercedes Volante which starts at about $57,000, but this is moving people with high-end lifestyles and equal expectations.
Mercedes-Benz is currently positioned within a posh purple-patch. Designers are turning everything to gold both inside and out.
This van is truly a luxurious proposition. Up front the cabin has been transformed using inspiration from some of the smaller vehicles in a Mercedes-Benz range.
The dash is curved it just makes you want to touch the dash, where all the materials are soft touch and look classy. The colour screen central on the dash does that looks somewhat like an iPad has been perched precariously in the middle…and some would argue that it would be better if it can be folded away.
Personally, I would always have the screen available as that's where you toggle between radio stations and media players, as well as sat nav and trip information via the circular dial and touch-pad controller.
The leather clad chairs with arms are comfortable front and back (our test vehicle had two standalone chairs in the second row) and there were nothing but plaudits from those being transported.
Passengers up front don't even need to shout to get their message across. The stereo system can magnify voices into the back.
On the road
The 2.1-litre four-cylinder turbo diesel is superbly strong. Mercedes claims it feels like the power of a six-cylinder petrol, and apart from the different exhaust soundtrack it's difficult to argue.
While it cruises on the highway at around 2000rpm, and the official sprint time of 0-100kmh in just under 10 seconds won't have sitting atop the dais at the racetrack, it always feels like there is muscular performance of the ready.
The performance is car-like, except when you attack a bend with too much enthusiasm, but you do have to remember it's a long vehicle and ensure you travel further into tight corners before making the turn to avoid kerbs and other obstacles.
What do you get?
The V250d comes with a 15-speaker Burmester sound system and 10GB hard drive for music data and video files, paddles on the steering wheel for manual-style control, 21.3cm colour screen with 3D sat nav, full bluetooth connectivity, separate climate controlled air con front and back, Lugano leather trim, 18-inch five-spoke alloys, along with power rear and side doors.
Safety incorporates six airbags, anti-lock brakes, stability and traction control, along with automatic parking, reversing camera, blind spot assist, drowsiness warning, crosswind assist and radar cruise control.
We also had the $6500 Avantgarde pack which features front seats ventilation, Nappa leather, sports pedals, upper dash in man-made leather and a wood-look trim.
Plush people-mover shoppers could also consider Chrysler Grand Voyager Limited CRD ($77,500), Toyota Tarago Ultima ($67,600) or the Volkswagen Multivan Highline TDI400 4M ($77,990).
Covering more than 1500km, the van delivered brilliant real-world economy. One 600km highway journey saw us clock up 6.6 litres per 100km, while the overall average was 7.5 litres.
Servicing will be more expensive than mainstream, but Mercedes has a pretty rock-solid reputation for longevity and reliability.
There is excellent head, leg and knee room in all three rows. There are various seating configurations available (six all with individual seats, seven with a rear bench two eight with two benches), and you can shuffle the seats forward or backward within the tracks.
Moving the seats does take some elbow grease and folding the second row seatbacks can be a little cumbersome. Storage is excellent through the cabin.
Up front there is a large receptacle close to the USB points, SD card and 12-volt jack. You get twin cup holders in the centre as well as bottle holders and extra storage in the doors.
The rear door also has a dual opening system, so you can drop in shopping bags through a smaller opening - pretty handy when you're in tight car parks.
Convincing parents that a van is better option than an SUV is easier when there is a three-pointed star on the front. Our test vehicle looked extra mean in trademark luxury black with slick 18-inch five-arm twin spoke alloys.
In aerodynamic terms it's actually pretty slippery (with a coefficient drag figure of 0.31), and it looks sleek from every angle - although the back door is pretty sizable and flat.
Most notable are interior changes with the dash borrowing some chic styling cues from the passenger car realm, and the outcome is a truly loveable and luxurious people-mover.
It has the looks inside and out, backed by a burly yet frugal engine.
Model: Mercedes-Benz V250d Avantegarde.
Details: Six, seven or eight-seat rear-wheel drive luxury people-mover.
Engine: 2.1-litre four-cylinder turbo diesel generating maximum power of 140kW and peak torque of 440Nm (150kW and 480Nm in overboost).
Transmission: Seven-speed automatic.
Consumption: 6.3 litres/100km (combined average).
Performance: 0-100kmh in 9.1 seconds.
Bottom line plus on-roads: $85,500.
What matters most
What we liked: Brilliant fuel economy, comfort and ride quality, configurable cabin.
What we'd like to see: Ability to drop and fold seats into the floor easily, electric door opening on the key for both sides (not just the left).
Warranty and servicing: Three-year unlimited kilometre warranty. Servicing is at 25,000km or annually. Pre-paid service plans available.
Driving experience 18/20
Features and equipment 17/20
Functionality and comfort 18/20
Value for money 16/20
Style and design 17/20