La Dolce Vita

I. Love. Cars. I cannot imagine a world without it. My adoration for the automobile is at par with my dependence on music, both of which I cannot live without.

From SUV's to supercars, there are a couple that I lean towards, but making me pick a favorite is as tricky as asking me what my favorite song is. The truth is that it all depends on your mood for the day, and most of the time I feel the need to go out for a drive. I would really rather swallow anthrax than entertain the thought of an automotive-less world. Flying cars? How is that even a car?

Driving to me is a source of joy. The right word would be a 'necessity', but if I am really honest - it is simply an obsession. Obviously, because I live here in the Philippines wherein the possibility of taking 3 hours to traverse 20 kilometers is almost my destiny on a Friday night - it is getting much tougher. And because this is the situation in my country, I am starting to think that maybe autonomous driving makes a little bit of sense, even if the thought makes me want to swallow my own vomit. 

"It has a foldaway table that is great for long road trips so that Mamita can feed her little grandchildren more Caviar from the Caspian and Black Sea."

We cannot deny that as the society we live in starts to worsen, technology somehow seems to patch up a lot of the cow dung. Although it may also be the very reason for the human race's demise, it is also what makes the world more bearable to live in. Change, whether favorable to us or not, is inevitable. And because this world is run by humans, most of us understand that life is really about compromise.

Without it, you will fail to survive. Even if you reeked of so much old money that your family actually owns the color blue, one day you are going to look out of your window and realize that no amount of money will ever be able to paint the sky green at the snap of your fingers. It will drive you insane, and you will perish.

A new era in spacious travel.

Fortunately, car manufacturers are run by sensible capitalists who do not just understand what compromise is, but are actual geniuses at it. They play chess with the world of change and they always attempt to bring it to a checkmate. This is why, unless you've been living under a rock for the past decade, you have noticed that almost every car maker in the world now makes a car for every kind of person. 

Welcome to Mercedes-Benz's people carrier. No, this isn't the new version of the MB100D Korean Bibimbap that fell apart quicker than your first love. Oh, no. This is the V220d Avantgarde, a juicy Bratwurst with Sauerkraut served with a glass of champagne. It is the German luxury brand's answer to those that need the practicality of a van but are allergic to anything less than a Mercedes-Benz.


Easily, it is the prettiest people carrier to date. It is the Behati Prinsloo of the van world. Truthfully, purchasing a van based on looks is as dumb as purchasing a first class airline ticket based on the exterior livery of the aircraft. You don't go thinking, Hmmm, I think I like the way Singapore Airlines looks. No wait, I think I like Etihad's better. I'll book that instead. Ultimately, you don't walk out of that opulent first class flight from Frankfurt and give the airplane a second look before you enter immigration. The real magic, as we all know, happens inside. At the push of a button, the automatic doors slide to expose an interior that does not fail to stun. It is everything that you would expect from Stuttgart's finest. 

The cabin is spacious with generous servings of fine leather, polished wood, and brushed aluminium. The ambient lighting that bathes the cabin alongside six captain's chairs with contrasting stitching only push the upscale feel to uncharted territories from any van manufacturer. It also has a foldaway table that is great for long road trips so that Mamita can feed her little grandchildren more Caviar from the Caspian and Black Sea. Sadly, it doesn't have adjustable airplane style seats with leg rests that you can find in a Toyota Alphard. The seats aren't as soft as I would like them to be. My slight disappointment with the seats was quickly taken away as soon as I saw the speaker cover read, Burmester

From size comes space.

Having mentioned earlier that I love music, my attention was quickly drawn to the 640-watt, 16 loudspeaker surround sound system. I know that the term 'surround sound' is thrown around as recklessly as the word 'best' or 'favorite', but this system is honest. It reproduces sound with so much clinical precision that you could be forgiven for thinking that Ol' Blue Eyes was belting out "Fly Me To The Moon" while seated next to you.


It has loads of power and adjustability. Close your eyes and enjoy the concert. Just don't do that while you're driving. The Burmester system gives you an idea of who Mercedes-Benz think are going be shuttled in this uber luxurious vehicle. The COMAND system offers great graphics on the screen, but it is still far from being intuitive. It's a complex system that you really need to learn. It can be a tad bit confusing at times. I'm convinced that they are capable of simplifying it. 

"It has an air of specialness. It has a soul, a very happy one at that."

Driving the van was a pleasant surprise. There's no hiding its weight and its upsized dimensions, but it felt nimble still. There were loads of feedback from the steering, which I can say puts some sedans to shame. It's communicative, and you can place the van with precision on the road. I would have wanted the suspension to be close to riding on a cloud, but it wasn't the case. It had some German firmness to it. 

It was a little bit bumpy at times, but never jarring. It was never uncomfortable. The engine was up to the task with loads of torque from the oil burner. I am so glad that it isn't powered by petrol, because nobody wants to rev a van to the heavens just to get it moving. All we really want is a little push on the pedal to move this gigantic piece of mass - and that's exactly what this engine does. 

"It is a beautiful idea that can only be bested by making it a reality."

In conclusion, this V220d in Avantgarde trim really captures the essence of grandeur and translates it perfectly into the people carrier recipe. It is large, opulent, comfortable, and efficient. It spoils you with choice, adjustability, and great functionality too. It happily takes the backseat as an integral part of your day's journey. Yes, I said it will happily do it. There is something joyful about its demeanor. It has an air of specialness. It has a soul, a very happy one at that.

Given the absurd idea of owning a Mercedes-Benz in a country with one of the worst traffic and road conditions in the world, the V-Class somehow does not make it seem preposterous at all. As a matter of fact, it is a beautiful idea that can only be bested by making it a reality. Take the backseat, share a snack, throw a frisbee, relish in the present, and let this Mercedes-Benz take care of the rest. Let's toast to the good life.

La Dolce Vita.

2016 Mercedes-Benz V220d Avantgarde

Engine: 2,143 cc, DOHC 16V, Inline-4, Turbocharged
Fuel: Diesel
Power: 163 bhp @ 3,800 rpm
Torque: 380 Nm @ 1,400-2,400 rpm
Transmission: 7-speed Automatic with Paddle Shifters, RWD
0-100 km/h: 10.8 seconds
Top Speed: 195 km/h
Fuel Economy: 9.8 km/L Overall
Price: PHP3,990,000
+: Opulence, standard equipment, design, comfort, Burmester audio
-: Could ride a bit better and could use even better seats
Verdict: All things considered, the most desirable people carrier on sale today. A true Mercedes-Benz in every aspect
Rating: 9/10

Ex-Automotive Executive

Instagram: @enzoteodoro