Trick suspension tech for Merc's big van.
The most privileged of scholars or hotel guests are accustomed to being transported by the stateliest of vans: Mercedes-Benz’s V-Class.
These rear-wheel-drive vans have a reputation for luxury and spaciousness, that remains generally unrivalled. But for the world’s oldest car company, there is always room for improvement.
Although the V-Class was recently updated, with a slightly new appearance, better engines and Mercedes-Benz’s nine-speed automatic transmission, the best is yet to come.
To ensure that V-Class remains the premium van offering, Mercedes-Benz gave its engineers a directive to improve ride quality. The fundamental design of V-Class, with its huge wheelbase, delivers an excellent ride quality platform, but Mercedes-Benz has learned that conventional dampers and coil springs, can only do so much to smooth over the bumps.
In the brand’s luxury SUVs, limousines and coupes, the lesson has been clear: nothing delivers superior ride quality, quite like air-suspension. Mercedes-Benz has now added its Airmatic suspension feature to the V-Class, promising ride quality that VW will be unable to match, with its latest T6.1 range.
The Airmatic system is adaptive and active. It also reacts independently at each wheel corner, giving the V-Class outstanding balance and reduced body roll when cornering.
Beyond the obvious benefits to ride quality and stability, during emergency braking or high-speed cornering, there are also notable efficiency gains, with Airmatic. At speeds over 110 kph, the system lowers V-Class by 10 mm, to reduce its overall frontal area and coefficient of drag, saving a bit of fuel.
If you happen upon a particularly harsh road or need to edge up a kerb, or steeply banked driveway, the V-Class’s Airmatic can initiate a 30 mm lift. This effectively gives the huge Mercedes-Benz van a better straddle height and prevents scraping of the sills.