Plenty to talk about in the luxury of new Merc V-Class - including the CLA Shooting Brake
First Drive: Mercedes V-Class
Driving a Mercedes V-Class people carrier the other day was a bit like being a chauffeur. I had four others on board - a front-seat passenger and three highly loquacious occupants of the main-cabin seats.
The latter were able to chat, volubly, because the two rows of seats face each other. That made for engaging conversation when travelling.
As you can imagine this new V-Class is a big bus with loads of room, mostly one suspects, for the corporate end of the business (airport, hotel, conference shuttle, VIP transport for stars at film premieres, concerts etc) but a dream motor for a family that likes to get away for weekends or on long summer-holiday trips.
You can have three seating line-ups: a six-seater (three rows of two), seven-seater (two rows of two and one of three) or eight seater (one of two seats and two with three).
And you can order an extra long version that can accommodate six or eight seats depending on your preferences and what cargo space you need (there are three body lengths: Compact, Long and Extra Long).
There seemed to be decent cargo/luggage space in the one I drove. There would need to be because, I suspect, unlike my chatty passengers, most occupants will have a fair bit of luggage. There is also extra rooftop space for boxes and racking.
I could see how it would be a great car for large families though maybe too bulky for some who prefer their more svelte 6/7 seaters that, of necessity, sacrifice luggage room when all seats are occupied.
As you'd expect in this V-Class, you can juggle seats/luggage arrangements to suit yourself. Seats fold and you can clip them in or out to open up space.
As well as facing each other, you can have them lined up more conventionally. Some nice touches include two little tables that 'spring' from a central pillar. Heck, you can even arrange matters in such a way that you can sleep in this.
Up front there is a redesigned instrument panel, a three-spoke 12-button steering wheel, 7ins central display screen and infotainment/multimedia system.
Ours had all sorts of stuff but they have kept trim levels simple: entry and Avantgarde.
Prices start at €52,390 which, realistically, will climb because most people will want to add bits and pieces. There are three 2-litre, 4cyl diesels - all with automatic transmissions.
A V200 CDI - claimed to be 28pc easier on fuel - starts the range at €52,390 ex-works. It is followed by a V220 CDI Avantgarde and V250 BlueTEC Avantgarde.
Among a big list of 'intelligent' safety/driver assists are systems for crosswinds, driver drowsiness and parking. There is also seat ventilation and four-way lumbar support.
But nothing, so far as I could see, to keep passengers quiet.
π I've already reported on the new CLA Shooting Brake (estate) but I can now tell you prices start from €31,490 ex-works. It looked wonderful in red when I took it for a brief drive.
There are two diesels and three petrols. Diesels include a 4cyl, 2.2-litre, 136bhp, CLA200 CDI at €36,125 and a 4cyl 2.2-litre, 177bhp, CLA220 CDI automatic at €40,195. Petrols include a 4cyl, 1.6-litre, 122bhp CLA180 (€31,490) a 4cyl, 1.6-litre 156bhp CLA200 (€35,235) and a 4cyl, 2-litre 211hp CLA250 at €45,045.
Road tax for diesels is €190; petrols incur a €270 bill.