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THE BEST OR NOTHING

MERCEDES-BENZ V300D

Unless you intend to tackle some significant off-roading, the V-Class is your best bet for ferrying groups of passengers in genuine comfort.

I admit to having caught on to the SUV craze over the past few years. The form factor combines the best bits of every vehicle platform on the market. And yet, every time I have a family road trip marked on my calendar, nothing beats an MPV. This time, I was given the keys to the Mercedes V300d, a vehicle that had already impressed me the first time I drove it. This road trip, therefore, presented a second bite at the apple to see whether, after all this time, I still had the same high praise for the V300d Exclusive.

Visual Impressions 

Addressing the aesthetics of MPVs is a moot exercise, given that all of them have boxy platforms with design language dictated by function rather than form. That said, the V-Class has always been one of the more attractive offerings in the segment, especially in the Exclusive guise, which adds some visual flair to the van. The Mercedes star emblem certainly helps to shake off the taxi vibes more than other MPVs.

Fit for a Family

When your wife and daughter share the same birthday, you need to up the ante on the birthday celebrations. This year, I decided to take the family to Montusi Mountain Lodge in the Northern Drakensberg area, which has proven to be a family favourite over the years. Our new baby and my father-in-law also joined us. This called for the need to impress the father-in-law while ensuring that every single passenger would be comfortable enough to enjoy the trip. 

The seven highly configurable, leather-clad seats certainly came into their own. Despite having two car seats fastened to the seats via ISOFIX mounting points, there was enough seating space left for everyone else to be comfortable. I dare you to try that in a seven-seater SUV. Even more impressive was the 542-litres of luggage space at my disposal despite having all the seats up.

Highway Companion

Out on the highway, it was soon apparent that the Mercedes charm was not lost on the V300d. There was a reassuring sense of luxury and calm in how the van coasted down the asphalt. The suspension effortlessly ate up road imperfections, so much so that the sleeping baby was never unsettled. Though, of course, with precious cargo on board, my usual driving exuberance was kept in check. The 176 kW of power and 500 Nm of torque from the 2.0-litre turbodiesel engine were appreciated during effortless overtaking manoeuvres while maintaining national speed limits. With careful application of the accelerator pedal, I did not stray far from the claimed 6 l/100 km fuel consumption, returning a commendable average of about 6.8 l/100 km.

Throughout the drive, my mind was at ease, knowing the safety features and driving aids that come standard with my review unit. These include front seat, thorax and A-D pillar airbags, Lane Keeping Assist, Blind Spot Assist, PRE-SAFE, and Active Brake Assist. 

Last Word

I did not regret my choice of vehicle once during our entire trip. The comfort and luxury we travelled in were testament to the revered Mercedes-Benz standards. The configurable seats and picnic table turned out to be more beneficial than launch reviews made them seem. The kids loved these features, eliminating the usual boredom with conventional seating arrangements on long trips. The father-in-law was impressed by the refinement levels and practicality of the van, which says a lot considering the man has seen many road trip miles in his years. And my wife and daughter had a fantastic birthday holiday, courtesy of the ever-stellar Montusi Mountain Lodge. That is another successful road trip in my books, courtesy of the tremendous V300d.

Report by BRYAN KAYAVHU | Images © Mercedes Benz South Africa

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