TESTED: Mercedes-Benz V300d Exclusive is the ultimate flagship bus
PRETORIA - You get mini-buses, people carriers, taxis, SUVs, vans and then there’s the Mercedes-Benz V300d Exclusive.
It’s Merc’s flagship V-Class and once you get to spend some time in it you get to understand what the word flagship means.
It’s pretty much got everything except the coffee machine for your morning brew and if it did you’d be able to set the seats to sip on it while hosting your first meeting of the morning.
Yes it’s that big and then some and yes it’s as luxurious as you could imagine and yes, once you get behind the wheel you really don’t want to stop driving as you envisage long road trips preferably say, from Beit Bridge to Cape Town.
It’s immensely comfortable and the high driving position, enormous windscreen and lots of glass make it a pleasure to drive even in peak hour (such as it is during Covid) as well as long stretches of highway.
And no, the 300 in the 300d doesn’t indicate engine size but no matter, this Exclusive V gets Mercedes’ brilliant 2.1 litre turbodiesel pushing out 176kW and 500Nm, which is more than enough to power it along. It’s coupled to an incredibly smooth nine-speed automatic box that’s always in the right gear irrespective of what speed or road condition and to say that it’s quiet inside is very much an understatement, thanks to lots of NVH damping.
It’s not easy to mould a box into something that’s actually eye catching for the right reasons but Merc’s designers have managed to get that right. Large windows, chrome carefully placed and alloy wheels on the corners make the V300d one of the best looking vans on the road.
Inside too, is a special place to spend time, like I said, road trip anyone?
The high driving position makes you feel as though you’re piloting an airplane and the suspension handled road imperfections brilliantly. The black leather interior adds much to the executive look and feel of the bus.
Individual rear seats are adjustable and the first row of passenger seats have a handy table between them for those times you need to tick off animals on your list in the game reserve while sitting in a temperature controlled cocoon or fill in a crossword while on the road.
With the dynamic select switch you get Comfort and Sport modes and if you want you can shift manually using the steering wheel paddles, but I can’t think of a reason you would want sport or manual given the smoothness of the autobox and the overall road presence and comfort behind the wheel.
As you would expect it’s loaded with technology and comes standard with rear climate control, integrated GPS navigation, front and rear park distance control with a rearview camera, cruise control, electric side mirrors and windows and a chunky multi-functional steering wheel.
It’s fitted with Mercedes-Benz’ MBUX system, one of the easiest to operate and comes with a 10.25 inch touchscreen and is Apple CarPlay and Android compatible.
The car on test was the Exclusive line which includes panoramic sunroof, centre console drinks cooler, adaptive cruise control and surround view camera.
While it is a big vehicle, access couldn’t be easier with electric sliding doors and getting things in and out the back is simple enough with an electric rear door with a split window in the tailgate and a raised parcel shelf with handy foldable baskets to prevent shopping bags from falling over and bottles irritatingly rolling around the back.
It’s a pity that school activities were restricted because it’s the kind of car that’s just as comfortable loading strapping youngsters and the myriad of bags and kit they have as it is loading an extended family for a holiday or arriving at a five star hotel for a black tie function.
It’s not in the cheap, or even affordable range for the average road user at over R1.6 million but I tell you what, If I had the money, a large family or were looking to convert a bus for touring the great outdoors in style and comfort, the V300d would be number one on the list.