The Mercedes-Benz V-Class caters to a very small niche in India. The market demand for a luxurious MPV is mostly from tour-operators and fancy hotels, but the company thinks the demand from individual buyers could increase in the future.
For now, the Mercedes-Benz V-Class has no direct competition. But what if Toyota decided to join the battle? It does have the Alphard, a 6/7-seater MPV which is directly imported by many hoteliers in the country - popular because it combines luxurious amenities with proven Toyota reliability and low maintenance costs. In case Toyota does launch the Alphard in India, which is unlikely for now, how would it compare? We take a look at the Alphard sold in Thailand and compare it to the V-Class to see if it could be a worthy contender to the V-Class.
The V-Class takes the crown here, being longer - both in terms of overall length and wheelbase. The Alphard may be slightly better to drive in the crowded city streets, though it may not feel as spacious as the Merc even with the 10mm taller roof.
Engine and Transmission
The Mercedes-Benz V-Class has a slight advantage here, being powered by a theoretically frugal diesel engine. The Alphard, in all markets, is available with petrol/hybrid powertrains only. While Toyota does have large diesel engines already available in India, they may not be compatible with the Alphard’s platform - or would require modifications which do not make financial sense. The hybrid variant could be the best bet, offering decent pulling power and being frugal.
This is not a fair comparison (different markets, different price points, different specs), but the Alphard does have some features which the V-Class is not offered with in India. This includes twin-moonroofs which would improve the interior ambience and score brownie points in a sunroof-crazed country like India. The V-Class hits back with configurable second-row seats, for that boardroom like seating, and a ‘Table-Package’ which adds usable dining tables for all passengers!
Safety is a high priority for both the MPVS, but V-Class skimps on curtain airbags on the C- and D-pillar in the Expression variant. The Alphard gets blind spot warning as standard, which is very helpful when driving long MPVs - and is a big miss for the Mercedes. The V-Class hits back with a 360-degree camera (only in the Exclusive variant).
As you can see, the comparison between the V-Class and the Alphard seems lopsided, because the Toyota is priced much higher. But the prices are for different markets, taxes levied and transportation charges are different - and comparing them would be unfair. The Toyota Alphard will not be cheap, even if the company does launch it here. What price point do you think it would become popular at?