Mercedes has upped the ante in the premium Multi-Purpose Vehicle sector with the news that it is to release a luxurious V-Class people carrier early next year.
The V-Class is a replacement for the Viano range, which always struggled to shake its commercial vehicle image and really appeal to the affluent leisure market or business travellers looking to tour in luxury.
It shares just 20 per cent of its chassis components with the old Viano and instead offers improved suspension and steering to ensure occupants are treated to the smoothest ride possible.
Four separate driving modes will also be available to the driver: economical, comfortable, sporty and manual. While the upcoming V-Class doesn't claim to be a sports car it attempts to offer more driver involvement than a commercial vehicle by sharpening throttle response, adding weight to steering and firming up suspension when 'Sport' mode is selected.
Outside, the boxy silhouette of the old Viano remains but a new angled grilled, LED lamps and angular creases in the bonnet give it a more stylish overall appearance.
The real changes occur inside, where customers will be able to specify a number of different seating arrangements. Four luxury seats with armrests spread over two rows will be the standard set-up but those looking to lug more passengers can specify two, three-seat benches.
The centre console has also been vastly improved, as it will feature a stunning 'floating' centre console that utilises a tablet-style touch screen. Users can swipe to scroll through menus and pinch to zoom in and out of maps.
Two engines will be available from launch, 2.1-litre four-cylinder turbodiesel engine with two-stage turbocharging – badged the V220 CDI – and a V250 BlueTEC that replaces the thirsty 3.0-litre V6 of old.
The V250 BlueTEC boasts the same performance figures as the old V6 (188bhp, 440Nm torque) yet fuel consumption is vastly improved.
Full pricing and specifics will be unveiled later this year.