Discovering the travel possibilities with the Mercedes-Benz V-Class

As a first-time parent of a two-month-old baby, juggling a career and personal life has took on a new level of challenge. I’ve mastered the art of sneaking-in feeding time for my baby between work meetings, or finishing work in the car so I can maximize quality time with my baby as soon as I get home. I began to realize how a versatile car was crucial to support my new lifestyle. 

When I heard that Mercedes-Benz was holding a Vans Festival, I visited the MB Showroom in Greenhills. The lifestyle experience with the V-class began with the MB showroom itself. The showroom has a relaxing lounge area. I grabbed something to eat at the Purple Ants Café and treated myself to a box of truffle chocolates to go before viewing the cars.   

Walking among the MB displays, the V-Class immediately caught my attention. Its classy and stylish exterior defied the “utility” or bland look often embodied by vehicles in the full-size van segment. What caught my attention more were the exhibits of creative possibilities offered by the new MB V-Class—a companion for out-of-town adventures, day-to-day business commutes, and family trips.  

I immediately felt a sense of luxury as I entered the V-class. The spacious expanse of the interiors is furnished with Lugano leather seats, door sill panels with “Mercedes-Benz” illuminated lettering, and Wood Principe effect trim. Unlike typical luxury cars where space is fixed and limited, the V-class offers a flexible interior concept to accommodate different activities.   

The first and second row seats can be reconfigured to face front or each other. A foldable table in the middle can be pushed to the front in the middle of the first-row seats, or to the rear-end.  As someone who often works in the car, I can imagine having a mobile office in the V-class. I could conduct meetings with my Executive Assistant in the V-class while in transit, with the foldable table in the center to hold documents, our laptops, and coffee cups too.   

As I left the MB showroom with the 7-seater V-class, I relaxed in my seat with the table laid out in front of me. Traffic was back now that Metro Manila is under a lower Alert Level, but the V-class gave me a comfortable working space. The foldable table had ample room for my laptop and the box of chocolates I bought from the MB showroom. There were device outlets on each side of the rear seats for my phones or laptop. While typing away on my computer and snacking on my chocolates, I listened to the radio where the sound of the news came on clear and crisp through the Burmester surround system. I asked my driver to adjust the sound using the MBUX multimedia system so that the volume was distributed evenly throughout the car. I appreciated the ability to customize the sound distribution. If I wanted peace and quiet, the audio could be adjusted to concentrate the sound in the front or rear only, depending on whether I was the driver or passenger. The adjustment of the seats was manual and felt a bit clunky. This is one of the trade-offs with the 7-seater—the extra seat in the rear is in exchange for the 6-seater’s pilot seats with electronic control and leg rests.   

Driving around the city, I was convinced that the V-class suited my work life. But the V-class was about to be put to the test for my son’s first out-of-town trip to the beach.  

We initially planned to use one of our SUVs as this was proven to be reliable for driving through rough roads and various weather conditions, while having sufficient space. After going through our list of “things to bring” and doing a headcount of my son’s “entourage,” we realized that a van would make more sense.  

I was shocked by the sheer volume of my baby’s travel essentials (sterilizing machine, feeding bottles, basinet, foldable stroller, a ton of diapers, etc.), but the generous trunk size of the V-class easily accommodated all my baby’s stuff including my and his nannies’ luggage. I appreciated the separately opening rear window of the V-class, as this allowed me to have the important items in the top layer within easy reach without having to open the whole trunk. The divider between the upper and lower portion of the trunk is a storage unity by itself. Upon lifting the lid of the divider, I found a storage area where I put my small miscellaneous items (beach shoes, flipflops, flashlight) and a collapsible storage box (standard accessory for the V-class), which I used to safely store beverage bottles, food, and other loose items.   

I was delighted to see that all V-class chairs had ISOFIX child-seat mountings, which made them easy to connect with my baby’s car seat. The three-seater in the back was perfect for having my baby’s car seat in the middle, while his nanny and his midwife occupied the seats on each side.   

We had plenty of room to fit the driver, but I chose to personally drive the V-class. Driving out-of-town (when I can) is a soothing experience that I consider part of my weekend getaways. I coopted my brother-in-law, niece, and her nanny to ride with us (this meant an additional nanny to help me with the baby, and a companion that I could converse with during the trip).  My husband and our other family members (who still had to work in their offices) were scheduled to follow on Saturday.   

Equipped with a 4-cylinder diesel engine wit 7G-TRONIC PLUS 7-speed automatic, the V-class was easy to maneuver and allowed me to effortlessly accelerate in the freeway. For a van, the V-class can go from zero to 100 km/h in 11 seconds and reach top speeds of 195 km/h.  

Other features, apart from the engine, made our ride smooth and comfortable. The driver’s seat had lumbar support, which made the long drive easy on my back. I easily navigated the multi-media tools using the touchpad or the knob (the two ways to use the central display screen, as this was not a touchscreen). The Bluetooth enabled pairing with my brother-in-law’s iPhone, providing us a steady supply of music throughout the trip. Part of me wished I brought some of my favorite CDs as the V-class is one of the few cars that still has a CD player.   

The Thermotronic automatic climate control in the front and Tempmatic semi-automatic climate control in the rear allowed me and the passengers to keep the temperature to each of our preferences. This was fundamental to our comfort, as preferred temperatures of adults are usually too cold for infants (this has led me to endure higher temperatures whenever my baby and I stayed in the same room at home). One of my pet peeves with the V-class was the automatic air control that systematically opens the vent to let outside air in (a design that often comes standard for European cars). This is supposedly a safety feature to control the level of carbon dioxide inside the vehicle. But since I worry about the air quality in Metro Manila, I prefer to always keep the vent closed from outdoor air.  

All was well until the nanny said we had to stop for a diaper change. By then we were nearing the mountains and the best I could do was pull over at a tiny gas station in the middle of fields where the only facility was a tiny (and dirty) restroom with a sink and toilet.  

The V-class saved the day by transforming into my son’s temporary nursery. Once laid out, the folding table instantly turned into a diaper-changing station. There was enough room for the midwife and nanny to stand inside the cabin while changing diapers and cleaning my baby.  Thereafter, the seats provided a lounging area to feed milk to my baby.   

The V-class has a folding table that conveniently transformed into a diaper changing station for the author’s 2-month-old baby.

After our emergency stop, the rest of the drive was smooth even as we went through patches of uncemented roads (I was very thankful for this because my baby was able to sleep throughout the trip). As we drove into one-lane dirt roads, the 360-degree camera of the V-class allowed me to avoid all types of obstruction (including a goat and tall shrubs). The hill-start assist provided additional support as we ascended the steep parts of the mountain. 

Since the trip took almost 4 hours, I felt extra safe knowing that the V-class had an Attention Assist drowsiness detection (another nifty feature for sleep-deprived parents like me).   

We spent a great weekend at the beach and got back to the city safely. Considering the powerful engine of the V-class, I was impressed by its fuel efficiency. The V-class has a combined fuel consumption of 5.8 to 6.3 liters/100km. It is also economical since it uses diesel (much cheaper than gas, amidst the rising fuel prices).   

I was intimidated by the thought of taking my two-month-old son on his first out-of-town trip, but everything went smoothly. Apart from my support system (nannies, midwife, family members), having the V-class was a big factor in making our trip efficient and convenient.  

They say it takes a village to raise a child. If you want to travel with that village, I’d say it takes a V-class to make that a comfortable and luxurious experience. 

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