We’ve spent a few hours this morning learning about the MB van ranges — and came away fairly perplexed but very impressed overall.
Confusing? Slightly. The Metris mid-size commercial and tourer (with seats) vans that are coming to America in September are part of a 40-strong lineup of vehicles from this platform. There is the Euro work-van Vito, the family hauler Viano, luxury V-Class and the campers called Marco Polo.
Not just lots of names — we counted at least 10 engines available, and options for front-drive, rear-drive or AWD. That is a ton of variety for one platform indeed!
The V-Class luxury variant is not planned for the USA at this time, as the Metris will be sold alongside Sprinters in stand-alone MB Vans dealerships. So this recent PHEV powertrian and executive shuttle concept ‘V-ision-e’ is not directly previewing anything headed to American shoppers.
But the powertrain under that swanky cabin is possible. The Metris will arrive in September priced from $28k with a standard 204-horsepower gasoline turbo four — which is also the likeliest engine for a hybrid model.
So while the PHEV might not be on the radar for the Metris’ launch, it is likely to arrive a few years into the vehicle’s rollout — perhaps around 2019. The PHEV powertrain would also be a welcome setup for the Marco Polo camper variants, where it would have far more accessory power than a conventional car battery.
As far as how a PHEV turbo van might benefit buyers globally… Imagine hauling 8 people and hitting 75-mpg! That may be possible in the very near future via this wildly versatile MB van platform.
2015 Mercedes-Benz Concept Vision-e
Mercedes arrived in Vegas with a surprising four-pack of minivans this year — confusing spectators and commentators alike!
Though the vans they brought are all customized in various flavors, they clearly share much with the new V-Class sold in Europe and elsewhere. Our USA-bound versions will be called the Metris and are not the luxury V-Class – Mercedes clarifies — despite the new Metris being offered in passenger and cargo versions.
What does this mean? When is a V-Class not a V-Class?
It comes down to distribution channels and luxury content. The Metris will be sold alongside Spinter vans in the commercial vehicle side of the business, versus sharing a posh showroom with the new S-Class and others.
It also comes down to content and technology: the Metris is simplfied and made more affordable than the V-Class, which is billed in Europe as a true Mercedes-Benz in mini-van shape.
A little bit.
We have yet to see exactly how decontented the Metris will be for the US — but expect harder materials all around the cabin, less NVH material, firmer and commercial-grade shocks and a more utilitarian bumper and trim setup than the posh V-Classes in silver below. Grey plastic bumpers are almost a sure thing to keep a respectful distance from Mercedes’ US passenger crossovers.
The Metris will slide in under the Sprinter in both size and price, and is likely to offer a variety of turbodiesel engines and may match the 2015 Sprinter by offering four-wheel-drive as well. Stay tuned for more details ahead of the Metris USA launch in Fall 2015.