Words: Kevin C. Limjoco
Photos: Jerel Fajardo, Nicolas Calanoc, and author
As surprising as it may seem, the Mercedes-Benz V-class predecessor is actually the MB100/140 van co-built with SsangYong which sold the product in most markets as the Istana. But of course, in our market it was rebadged as a Mercedes-Benz which helped make the full-size van sell in significant numbers. And it was a financial catalyst for CATS Motors which eventually became the official Philippine distributor for Mercedes-Benz. We had two units, and at the time in the late 90’s it was the very best people mover that you could buy in our country with rear-wheel drive, 5-speed manual transmission, solid axles, and a dependable 2.9-liter inline-5 diesel engine.
So, when the 1st generation (W638) flying-brick replacement came along as a pure Mercedes-Benz product as the Vito for commercial purposes, we received it with mixed emotions. We got the 120 bhp V220CDI passenger version in Europe for several years which certainly looked the part swathed heavily in tan leather and was a workhorse despite being a lot smaller than the MB100 and had a front-wheel drive (technically the first Mercedes-Benz front-wheel drive). It was good and dutiful but not great. The 2nd generation V-class (W639 Viano) grew significantly larger and got a rear-wheel drive back as well as an AWD variant.
Fast forward to the handsome, all-new 3rd generation (W447) model you see here in V220d Avantgarde trim and it is a revelation. It may have the same wheelbase as its predecessor but it drives and rides completely different. Just like with the Viano, you can buy a much longer wheelbase model which not only adds one more adult passenger thanks to switching out the 3rd row individual captain’s seats for a full bench, but it also increases rear trunk capacity which is vital for those long-distance trips with the family.
With such a huge van, I was initially worried that the little twin-turbodiesel 2.2-liter may not be powerful enough to properly motivate the V220d. But thanks to the 7-speed G-Tronic Plus automatic gearbox and the healthy tuning of the engine where 280 lb-ft is available from as low as 1400 rpm and holds that peak for a bit longer to 2400 rpm, the V220d moves with surprising ease. Our test unit is a very luxurious, pure 6-seater for truly exclusive VIP treatment for all. If you don’t need the extra load capacity, this model would work splendidly. Thankfully, the equipment level is refreshingly good too, the handsome new dashboard and steering wheel with paddleshifts are top notch, it has a fully functioning COMAND system with 360-degree cameras and sonar for effortless parking maneuvers, the Intelligent Light System (LED lighting everywhere) is standard, the 16-speaker 640-watt Burmester audio system is fantastic, the ambient lighting is exemplary, the side and trunk are fully powered, and it even has a foldaway table in the second row.
Is it worth almost 700k more than the Toyota Alphard? Given the brand, the size, and the equipment levels, the answer is yes, IF you could afford it, naturally. The 2017 Mercedes-Benz V220d is the most capacious and efficient luxury van you can now buy in our market. It just so happens to also drive really well. It would have gotten a perfect C! Rating if it was the V250d at the same price, same equipment, but with a third row bench.
Specification – 2017 Mercedes-Benz V220d Avantgarde
Engine: Inline-4, 2143 cc, dohc 16V, Direct Injection Intercooled Twin-Turbodiesel, 7-Speed AT
Max power: 163 bhp @ 3800 rpm
Max torque: 280 lb-ft @ 1400-2400 rpm
0-100 km/h (0-62mph): 10.7 sec.
Top Speed: 195 km/h (122 mph) Governed
Fuel Mileage: 6.8L/100 kms. City & 5.4L/100 kms. Highway
Retail Price: PhP 3,990,000.00
C! RATING 9.5/10
+The best V-class model ever, thoroughly reworked, brimming with standard equipment, comfortable.
-Extra-long variant with a 230 mm longer wheelbase costs 400k more but adds a user-friendly third bench for more passenger capacity and more rear load.