SEE | Virtually peerless V-Class rivals these two family buses in South Africa

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• The Mercedes-Benz V 300d Exclusive is virtually peerless in South Africa.

• Volkswagen and Ford have rivals that can take on Mercedes-Benz's offering.

• The V 300d Exclusive retails for R1.64-million.

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Recently, the Wheels24 team spent time with the Mercedes-Benz V 300d Exclusive, the top model in Merc's V-Class range. The minibus is fitted with several features that make it stand out in the crowd, while at the same time differentiating it from its siblings.

Interestingly, if one should look at the V-Class' rivals, then you quickly pick up on the fact that the vehicle only has itself to compete against. In this instance, Mercedes-Benz gave the V-Class lineup a comprehensive list of models, providing prospective buyers with the option to choose the minibus for their needs from the 13-strong model range, priced between R977 913 for the base V 200d and R1 645 880 for the V 300d Exclusive.

If we are to look at rivals from the South African carpool, only the Volkswagen Caravelle (and California, if you will) and the Ford Tourneo Custom seem like likely rivals. But can they be considered rivals?

Seating for plenty

The V 300d Exclusive, the model we reviewed earlier this month, is priced out of the water for any of the models in the Caravelle or Tourneo Custom ranges to compete against it. At R1.640-million, you'd have to specify the kitchen sink and several chauffeurs on these two rivals to come close to the Merc's price. However, things seem like closer competition when you look at the models lower down the V-Class range. But against the V 300d Exclusive, we are looking at the Caravelle 2.0 BiTDI 4Motion, and Tourneo Custom 2.0 SiT SWB (short-wheelbase) Limited.

Because the V-Class is so comprehensively specified, both Ford and Volkswagen would have to do their magic to compete against it in terms of what their respected packages offer. For starters, let's find common ground on seating. The V-Class comes standard with six seats, with the option to upgrade to seven or eight seats. The Caravelle and Tourneo Custom, however, come standard with seven and eight seats, respectively.

In terms of engines and power, the V 300d is powered by a turbocharged 2.1-litre diesel engine that produces 176kW and 500Nm.

The Caravelle and Tourneo Custom are both powered by 2.0-litre diesel engines, but the Volkswagen's motor is bi-turbo versus Ford's single turbo. Power output on the Caravelle is 146kW and 450Nm, while the Blue Oval's contender offers 136kW and 415Nm. The Merc, VW, and Ford are powered by automatic gearboxes (nine-speed, seven-speed, and six-speed, respectively), with the Caravelle being four-wheel-drive versus the other two's rear-wheel-drive setup.

Mercedes-Benz V 300d Exclusive
2020 Mercedes-Benz V 300d Exclusive
Volkswagen Caravelle
2020 Volkswagen Caravelle (QuickPic)
Ford Tourneo Custom
2020 Ford Tourneo Custom (QuickPic)

Pricing and warranty

Given that we had the V 300d Exclusive on test, it is the vehicle we are using in this comparison. The closest rivals to it are the previously mentioned models from the respective Caravelle and Tourneo Custom ranges, priced at R1 166 600 and R763 200.

The Mercedes comes standard with a five-year/100 000km maintenance, with an additional two-year/unlimited km warranty. The Caravelle also has a five-year maintenance plan, but the accompanying distance is only 60 000km. The warranty is valid for three-years/120 000km. The Tourneo Custom does not have a maintenance plan, but a service plan, instead. It runs for six-years/90 000km, with a four-year/120 000km warranty to accompany it.

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