Vans play an important role in society carrying goods and people around and the Mercedes-Benz V220D does the job done without feeling irritated

The Mercedes-Benz V220D Is A Classy Way To Move People Around

The first time I drove a van when I turned 19. I had my first car, which was a Perodua Kelisa and needed to do something while I was on my leap months after being ousted from my first college. If you’re interested to know, this was due to my classmates flexing their small town politics muscles. 12 against one and there was no one who I can rely on – even the lecturers don’t seem to be bothered to know the other side of the story. So I left.

I was working part-time as a driver to ferry toddlers for a Montessori in an Inokom Permas – a rebadged version of Renault’s first generation Traffic van. Jumping from tiny A-segment and into a large and spacious people carrier was for a short time a daunting experience, but it did thought me a lot on vehicle placement and
space approximation.

The Mercedes-Benz V220D Is A Classy Way To Move People Around

There were no reverse camera fitted, just a good ‘ol convex blindspot mirror at the rear and two large side mirrors with their own convex mirrors were the only reference guides to navigate the large people carries through tight spaces. It was powered by a 2.0-litre naturally aspirated four-cylinder diesel engine which does just enough for the daily transit.

Shifting gears through the clunky manual gearbox, the ageing Inokom feels extremely underpowered when climbing up gradients while the brakes feel numb and unresponsive. The interior looked and felt utilitarian without any form of human sympathy. I also wished it had a turbocharged engine and an automatic transmission, which would at least make life a
lot easier.

The Mercedes-Benz V220D Is A Classy Way To Move People Around

If you need something for the school run, ferrying a group of people be it for business or leisure, or need something that is able to ride up to six or more in comfort without settling for anything that it isn’t premium, then the Mercedes-Benz V220D would meet all of those requirements.

Exterior

The Mercedes-Benz V220D Is A Classy Way To Move People Around

Being a much newer vehicle, the Mercedes-Benz V220D is a vast difference to the one I’d had driven nearly 14 years ago. It has all of the hallmark Mercedes-Benz identifiers like the twin louvered grille with the three-pointed star sitting proudly, LED combination headlamps with daytime running lamps are very much the brand’s standard offerings on most of its current models. Likewise, the rear lamps only houses LEDs with its three-line signature lighting.

The Mercedes-Benz V220D Is A Classy Way To Move People Around

Unlike some people carriers, the V220D has large sliding doors on both sides, which can be accessed by either via the remote, door handles, buttons on the centre console and either a button or at the upper door handles. Everything here is all about practicality and its utilitarian exterior layout says a lot about its commercial relatives. That said, the V220D is not just designed just to carry people around.

The Mercedes-Benz V220D Is A Classy Way To Move People Around

And being a multi-talented and practical people carrier, the V220D is quite a substantially sized people carrier even in its “Long” form as tested. Measuring at 5,140mm in length, 1,930mm in width and 1,880mm in height.

The V220D has an inoffensive look to it, very friendly to look at and doesn’t intimidate people around, which is of course very van-like in nature, but it is far from that when you climb into its spacious interior.

The Mercedes-Benz  people carrier can be configured in the “Compact” which measures at 4,905mm with a short rear overhang, and “Extra Long” stretches the measuring tape at 5,370mm with a similar rear overhang as the “Long” and slightly longer wheelbase.

The Mercedes-Benz V220D comes with a neat cool feature where you access the boot space via the rear window which you can carry or stow away light items through without opening the wide rear tailgate for added convenience

Interior

Hopping inside does bring back some memories; the only thing I can’t exactly relive is that I am unable to stand upright like in the old Inokom. This is a good thing as there won’t be any height clearance anxiety when driving into indoor parking lots or condominium podium parking. Inside, its what you can expect from a Mercedes-Benz.

High quality materials and top-notch assembly is what’s to be expected in the V220D’s large cockpit. If you are familiar with Mercedes-Benz products, then you can find plenty of familiar switchgear placed in a similar layout to most Mercedes-Benz road cars.

The three-spoke sports steering wheel is a familiar feature in most non-AMG models, and you can expect it to feel comfortable in the hands and the switchgear provides good tactile feedback. The only thing that isn’t featured in the V220D is a keyless start/stop button, where you still need to plug they key fob into the ignition switch.

Build quality is what you can expect from a Mercedes-Benz; the fit and finish is on point with soft-touch areas on the dashboard, door cards, and armrests. The seats are comfortable to sit in and on a perched up sitting position where the front occupants can have a commanding view ahead.

This very test unit has six seats – two front seats and four individual seats – and you can opt for seven and eight seats depending on individuals’ requirements. The front seats are plush and comfortable with their own retractable inner arm rests. Amongst other features, the V220d gets an electric front-seat adjustment with memory settings. Space isn’t an issue at the front where the dashboard doesn’t take much space, and the wide girth of the vehicle does provide vast shoulder room for all passengers.


In this six-seat arrangement, the four seats at the rear provide similar comfort and support levels as the front seats. The only difference with these seats is that they can be arranged in different configurations simply by unlatching them from the seat rail system with quick locking. The only downside to this is that the seats don’t swivel around and back on its set position.

Be it all seats facing forward, or face-to-face, the V220D comes with a folding table stored on a movable centre console, which you can place drinks and store other lose items in its pockets. The foldable table can accommodate four people in the face-to-face seat position be it for small on-site conferences or as a place for kids to put their tablets or laptops on. The possibility is endless.


Each of the individual seats can be pushed forwards and backwards but require some physical effort to shift them back and forth. Also these seats can be folded flat to allow passengers to rest their feet on. Removing the seats is easy simple by following the instructions provided under the seats, just that you need someone strong to do it and a space to keep them aside safely.

When it comes to climate control the V220D comes with a three-zone climate system where the front passengers can have their own temperature zones on each sides, while the rear occupants will have only one. The air conditioning system is powerful and works as intended where cool air doesn’t take too long to occupy such a large space.

Multimedia

Infotainment wise, the V220D as tested comes with a seven-inch Audio 20 CD multifunction touch screen display with navigation. The colour screen mounted on the dashboard and well within reach, controlled by a dial and touchpad positioned at the lower middle half of the dashboard. It also relays images from the reverse camera located at the rear with guidelines to assists you when reverse parking into tight spots.

Infotainment wise, the V220D as tested comes with a seven-inch Audio 20 CD multifunction touch screen display with navigation. The colour screen mounted on the dashboard and well within reach, controlled by a dial and touchpad positioned at the lower middle half of the dashboard. It also relays images from the reverse camera located at the rear with guidelines to assists you when reverse parking into tight spots.


Engine

Motive force comes from a 2.1-litre four-cylinder turbodiesel engine that makes 161hp at 3,800rpm and 380Nm of torque at 1400 to 2400 rpm. The OM651 has common rail direct injection with solenoid valve injectors and two-stage turbocharging. Mated to the diesel engine is a 7G-Tronic Plus transmission that only runs the  front wheels.

Mercedes-Benz claims that the V220D returns 6.1 L/100km, which is pretty good given that the thing weighs close to two and a half tonnes. As tested on the highway, this people carrier dis 6.4 L/100km. In the city the V220D does around 7.5 – 8.6 L/100km driven in and around, climbing and descending hills and crawling in the jam.

Driving

My drive covered mostly in the city of Kuala Lumpur and putting the V-Class’s flexible seating to the test, as we had to carry loads of unwanted items onboard to give away. This proved that, although this thing is a luxury van, it could also be a hugely practical delivery van. The comfort on offer was perhaps the biggest advantage for my passengers – with superb suspension composure, ride comfort and body control, the V-Class is like a big boxy limousine.

Parking this behemoth into tight spots isn’t much of a problem as it comes with a 360 camera system that provides visual all round, and comes with Active Parking Assist that parks the big van in spaces you couldn’t imagine possible in a vehicle of this size.

Granted that it is not made for performance as there’s quite a lot of body roll to contend with, but the steering is direct and very nicely weighted, making for easy progress whether you’re piloting it down a mountain pass or dealing with roundabouts or parking lots. The turning circle is small, which in turn makes the van feel smaller than it actually is.

The brakes can feel a little numb underfoot, meaning you might find yourself pushing a little harder on the pedal than you think initially. The response is good, though, even with weight
on board.

What was a little surprising was a lack of torque at higher speeds for overtaking moves. On a slightly sloping country back road with four adults on board, I expected there to be well and truly enough for a quick overtaking move – but the drivetrain didn’t quite have the grunt to get the job done. At least, not in the Comfort drive mode.

By using the ‘Dynamic’ drive selector and choosing Sport mode, there was extra push on offer – the gearing changed, and so did the throttle response – and that made overtaking moves a little easier. You could also switch into Manual if you wish to shift gears manually and even perform engine braking without the
gearbox interfering.

Conclusion

The Mercedes-Benz V220D is a well capable people carrier with a spacious cabin and plenty of practical solutions. The 2.1-litre turbodiesel engine may not break any records, but it gets the job done with adequate amounts of power and torque to carry six up hills and on long distance trips.

Despite its length, the V220D is able to fit in most parking lots, and the Active Park Assist is able to do it for the driver if he/she doesn’t have the confidence to do it themselves into tight and tricky spots. It’s hard to ignore its commercial variants, but once you put that aside, the utilitarian side of the V220D comes in handy when commuting six people at a time daily in comfort and convenience. And certainly, this is much better than the old Inokom.

Tester’s Note
+ Sound built quality
+ Good looks
+ Practical
+ Driving comfort
+ Usable performance

Technical Specifications
Mercedes-Benz V220D Avantgarde (Long Body)
Price Msia:
RM448,888 (Private, W/O insurance, Peninsular Malaysia)
Engine: 2,143cc (OM651) Four-Cylinder Turbodiesel
Power:  163hp
Torque:
380Nm
Fuel Economy: 6.5 l/100km (Tested)
Transmission: 7-Speed Steptronic Automatic

[Bryna Au]

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