Driven: Mercedes-Benz V300d Exclusive

V-Class? More like High Class Van. Am I right?

What is it?
Ah, what’s in a name? Or in this case, a letter – the consonant V in particular. V refers to the model lineup aka V-Class, the artist previously knows as Viano or Vito depending on whether you’re transporting hotel VIPs, or the bed sheets. I’m going to do something I don’t usually do and that’s jump to the price rag because well, context as you’ll see, is important here. R1,645,880. There, now I won’t feel overly guilty gushing about what is the fully laden, flagship Exclusive model.

How does it look?
Our test car may be a sober wine red in hue, but it’s burgundy metal only adds to its stature, a glorious obelisk on wheels. I’ll admit to not looking up its sticker price until after I returned it to its custodian but in that week, oh man, was i ever smitten. Just look at that massive alloy hoops at each corner, the liberal application of Chrome and anthracite, the gaping airdams and lo. Peek into the copious living quarters and dreams of road trips at golden hour, romantic curbside moments and 1000s of kilometres being gently dispatched from its massive windscreen to its rear view mirror are immediately broadcast into your brain parts. I’m a 42 year old father of three and this thing has excited me about as much as last week’s Porsche Cayman GT4. Albeit very different parts of me.

What about living with it?
So naturally I immediately set about doing the above items on my list, and then also transported a pair of 2.5m planks of Black Limba Ofram for my new office desk. The exquisite leathery cabin swallowed up the planks with no fuss, in fact there were still 5 occupiable pews remaining. Sans wood, it’ll swallow eight humans in 2 upfront, 2 individual seats in the middle (and a table between them), plus the rear row takes three more. Tech, toys, equipment, there’s no shortage here – rather a mad abundance. Standard kit includes front and rear climate control, plus integrated GPS navigation, front and rear PDCs (park distance control) coupled with a rearview camera. Then, still standard, there’s cruise control, a multi-function leathery helm and electronically operated side mirrors and windows. But this isn’t the standard car, so our Exclusive trim includes additional perks such as a sliding panoramic sunroof, adaptive cruise control, and a surround-view camera. Living with it? How will I live without it?

How does it go?
Like the bus of your dreams. Whilst its lesser siblings must make do with the old 2.1l turbodiesel, the 300d receives, no. Is blessed with, Merc’s new (OM654) 2.0-litre turbodiesel with 176kW and 500Nm on tap. This is paired to a buttery smooth 9-speed automatic transmission and what more can I say other than, it’s soft but not rolly-polly and the sound doesn’t hurt my ears either. I mean it’s good, the low frequency burble of a modern diesel – not that you’ll hear it much over the multiple layers of NVH damping. Make no mistake, this is a luxury vehicle. Just a really big one.

Should you buy one?
I know I’m supposed to say that R1.6mil is a ridiculous amount of money for a van. But, if you’re the pragmatic type, you’ll see the value in what is literally ‘a lot of car’ for your money. It’s a behemoth, comes fully loaded, is beautifully appointed and is as practical as ita pretty. And if your aspirations don’t extend to gravel (so their SUV range isn’t a factor), then I can’t think of a single reason why you shouldn’t extend yourself to the V300d. Yes, the standard car is a bit cheaper at R1,44mil but then price probably isn’t a factor for you. If however, you love what you see, but have a more modest budget, I’ll happily admit you have options. The one that springs to mind is a flagship Kia’s Grand Sedona. Yes its only get seven seats, but it doesn’t cost seven figures at R890k. Just know that any affordable premium luxury MPV you buy, had a Mercedes-Benz V-Class on its mood board when it was designed. Because it’s that good.

Quick Stats: Mercedes-Benz V300d Range
Pricing:
Mercedes-Benz V300d – R1,440,203
Mercedes-Benz V300d Avantgarde AMG Line – R1,515,183
Mercedes-Benz V300d Exclusive – R1,645,880

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