For families all over, Mother’s Day is one of the most eagerly awaited celebrations of the year. We all love our Moms and we want to treat them like the queens that they truly are.
Normally that would mean a “Yes Day” wherein the family treats Mom by doing all the household chores that she lovingly performs day in and day out—ideally started off by a surprise breakfast-in-bed treat prepared by Dad and the kids—and by following that up with a fun and memorable rest of the day with a sumptuous lunch with some cheat-day cake and ice cream, a little (or a lot of) shopping, and capped off by a nice dinner with a fine wine.
But how do we tie that up with all the precautions required for the new normal? Celebrations at the expense of safety protocols are the last thing anyone should consider. For me and my family, spending quality time together at home or in a car (to banish cabin fever) would be the best compromise. We had all meals at home—brunch prepared by the kids and dinner and cake via food delivery from their Mom’s favorite restaurant and cake shop.
In the afternoon, however, we took the opportunity to get away from the confines of home—we’ve been on work-from-home mode since ECQ last year—by taking a refreshing two-hour road trip around the city. It was a trip our three 20-something offspring, who otherwise don’t want to be away from Wi-Fi, Netflix, and the home gym, looked forward to. That’s because our in-city road trip vehicle was the immensely comfortable and superbly spacious Mercedes-Benz V-Class.
Distinctive Mercedes-Benz style
All vans are basically one big metal box that prioritizes space over style. For automobile designers, that poses a challenge. They can’t play with sensuous fenders or swooping rooflines to create a head-turning look. But the designers at Stuttgart succeeded in endowing the V-Class with the signature assertive Mercedes stance and bearing, thanks mainly to a large blacked-out grille with that distinctive three-pointed star taking center stage. The large, expressive LED headlamps and the twin horizontal chrome strips that bracket the three-pointed star help instantly identify the V-Class as a Mercedes.
The normally flat side panels are given more character (and a more upscale feel), thanks to the beautiful green-tinted panoramic side windows and the two subtle character lines—one below the door handles and the other just above the rocker panels—that span the length of the car. Sporty split five-spoke 18-inch machine-finish alloy wheels add visual sexiness to this mom-mobile.
There’s not much to play around with for the back view of most vans as well, but Mercedes did well to incorporate the biggest rear window you’ll ever see in a van, enabling maximum outward visibility. A thick chrome strip on the bottom edge of the unique pentagonally shaped backlight and the large LED taillamps (which look magnificent at night) add an upscale feel. Horizontal lines above and below the license plate and the trapezoidal shape of the license plate recess minimize the slab-sided look of the huge tailgate.
The luxury of space
The V-Class may look huge but it’s actually about seven inches shorter than the 10-seater Toyota Hiace Super Grandia. Nonetheless, you’d expect a van of this size to seat 8 or more people.
Not for our V-Class Avantgarde Long test unit. It’s a luxury van, after all, which is why it gives up maximum passenger capacity for maximum space and comfort—for 7 people (in a 2+2+3 configuration). Functionality (and fun) comes from the middle row captain’s seats that can be rotated 180 degrees so family members can face each other for games, snacks, work, or just a fun chat. Enabling these activities is an ingenious fore-and-aft movable center console that can be raised to transform into twin tables with cupholders.
Carpeting is plush and legroom is generous (the wheelbase is a long 3,200mm) so you won’t step on each other’s feet when the middle-row passengers are facing the rear. The seats are covered in Mercedes’s luxurious Lugano leather and the front seats are power adjustable using Mercedes’s highly intuitive door-mounted seat adjustment buttons. Ambient lighting adds a touch of elegance at night.
The dashboard is as close as you can get to Mercedes-levels of controls and aesthetics in a big van, which also serves as a commercial van in Europe. The beautiful 3-spoked multi-function leather steering wheel and aircon vents would look at home in an E-Class. The only thing you’ll miss from any of the newest Mercedes sedans and hatchbacks might be the expansive display that extends from the instrument panel to the infotainment screen. The V-Class instead uses a free-standing display mounted high in the middle of the dashboard. It’s operated via hand controller/touchpad that enables menu navigation without taking one’s eyes off the road.
One thing guaranteed with any Mercedes-Benz is that the premium you pay for translates not just into the brand’s incomparable prestige, solid resale value, or the assurance of safety. You also get superlative performance borne of the most advanced engineering from the company that invented the automobile.
The V 220d Avantgarde Long is powered by a 2.0-liter, 4-cylinder turbocharged diesel engine that generates a robust 163hp at 4,200 rpm and 380Nm of torque in a wide spread from 1,200 to 4,000 rpm. These may not be class-leading numbers but they’re more than adequate to transport a family in utmost comfort at any speed—from stop-and-go city driving to high-speed expressways jaunts. The torquey and energetic engine makes overtaking effortless and spirited drivers can even have their own playtime with the DIRECT SELECT gearshift and paddle shifters. And true to its luxury car identity, the diesel engine is hardly heard or felt from inside the cabin.
Needless to say, the ride/handling balance is biased for long-distance driving and riding comfort. But that’s not to say that the V-Class can’t hold its own in driving over zigzag roads or broken pavement. This is a German-engineered van, after all, so expect typical German stability and solidity on any road surface.
Safe like a Benz
The V-Class achieved the top score of five stars in the Euro NCAP Crash Test. Its exemplary safety systems are oriented on Mercedes-Benz’s four-level integral safety concept.
First is safe driving. The standard features in the V-Class include ATTENTION ASSIST drowsiness detection, Headlight Assist, Tire Pressure Monitoring, SPEEDTRONIC cruise control with variable speed limiter, LED Intelligent Light System, Headlight Assist, Lane Keeping Assist, and a hugely helpful 360° camera.
Second is preventive protection. Advanced accident prevention technologies are available for the V-Class like Active Parking Assist, ABS with Brake Assist, Electronic Stability Program, Acceleration Slip Regulator, and Hill-Start Assist.
Third is optimum protection in an accident. The V-Class features airbags and thorax-pelvis side airbags for the front occupants and window airbags for front and rear occupants to ensure optimum protection in a collision.
Fourth is damage control after an accident. If a serious collision still occurs, the V-Class will automatic shut down its engine, unlock the doors to assist emergency responders, and activate emergency lighting and hazard lights.
The V-Class comes in four variants: the V 200d Base Long 6-seater at P4,690,000, the V 220d Avantgarde Long 6-seater at P4,890,000, our V 220d Avantgarde Long 7-seater test unit at P4,955,000, and the top-of-the-line V 220d Avantgarde Extra Long 7-seater at P5,190,000.
Any of these variants will transform your daily family outing (or even a chauffeur-driven commute) into a luxuriously memorable one. And if it helps make the lady of the house feel like royalty, then the V-Class becomes truly priceless.