Test Drive: Mercedes-Benz Valente

A sponsored post for Mercedes-Benz Valente

I was lucky enough to recently swap our regular, filthy inside and out 5 seater car for a loan of a brand spanking new 8 seater Mercedes –Benz Valente for a week. Mercedes-Benz launched this car in 2012, and it has taken out the Delivery Magazine people mover of the year 2012 & 2013. The marketing push behind it is that just because you have a big family doesn’t mean that you have to compromise on style and that it handles just like a car despite it’s size. Having only 2 kids I felt a little like a fraud but set to the task with enthusiasm drinking in the smell of new car and endless seating arrangements.

I braved the early morning grey set on Bowral train station on a rainy Tuesday morning and high tailed it up to Mercedes-Benz in Alexandria where I was met with shiny floors, fancy magazines and one of the friendliest car salesmen I had come across in some time: Ian. Ian showed me around the car, convinced me that the only way I could roll it was if I was travelling at 200km’s an hour, where the fuel tank was and a few hints and tips about a parking brake that was on the floor (I’d never dealt with one of those before). Before I knew it, I was driving along Bourke Rd heading south bound trying not to freak out about the length of the car that just seemed to go and go and go.

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I’m no car person, I mean I appreciate cars for what they do, but that’s about the extent of it for me. I don’t need to drive a fancy car. I don’t need my car to look a certain way. I DO need my car to be safe as we drive along country roads and most roads that have speed limits of 80-110kms/hr as well as good anchor points for car seats and boosters that don’t impact on any space in the boot. I need to be able to make phone calls when I drive long distances and I need to listen to my music when I’m on the road too and I need my fuel to last as long as it can. As the girls get bigger I have noticed that the 5 seater we currently have may just not cut the mustard – especially in a few years time. Throw some friends into the mix and we won’t be able to pick or drop anyone off – and in the country the ability to share the car driving/car pooling is important.

Once the girls and I got over the excitement of a new car and all the oo-ing and ah-ing from others died down, these were my thoughts on it as I drove around for the week:

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Things I liked

DOORS
The fact that both sides of the van could be opened up with the press of a button from my keys was fantastic. There were no fights between the girls and as soon as the car was parked I could control the opening with a press on an internal button (although I only opened the kerbside door when we were on a road…driveway both were opened). My 4 year old was also THRILLED that she could close the sliding door with a press of an internal button and it meant that my time was better spent doing what I had to do. We got away quicker and with so much less fuss than normal.

INTERNAL SPACE
You know when it’s raining and you have to stand in the rain with your back getting dripped on while you do up seat beats and car seats? Well in this bad boy I could easily climb into the back and do Harper’s seat belt all without GOING OUTSIDE. Total game changer. The 3 sunroofs and huge side windows also offered so much light into the car that even when you were sitting in the very back seats you didn’t feel woozy like you can do in vans.

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REVERSE CAMERA/SENSORS
I’d never had one of these in my car before so it was quite interesting to try it out. I think you could become quite lazy with them and not use the mirrors if you had them but for looking back on driveways and checking all was clear especially around the School at pick up and drop off times it was fantastic.

DRIVEY STUFF
For the week I had it I drove 700km’s and I didn’t have to fill it up once! Now THAT is impressive. And also, it did drive like a car. A big car sure, but as soon as I got used to it, it felt like a normal car to drive. So technical I know!

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OTHER STUFF THAT WAS GOOD

Blue tooth phone – this is a no brainer in cars these days. Essential for me to do all my catching up when I am on the road.
Dark tinting – we felt like rocks stars with the windows so dark that you can’t see in but easy to see out.
Windscreen wipers – I have a strange obsession with keeping my windscreen (front and rear) clean at all times. I go into a panic if the water has run out and I can’t clean it. It’s a weird thing I have (just ask Rob and he will roll his eyes) and this van had the most beautiful IN BUILT washers that had the water in the actual wiper so when you squeezed it detergent and water were EVENLY DISTRIBUTED ACROSS THE GLASS. It was so pleasing. There were even washers for the lights. I know!
Helpful dealership – I had to ask a few questions along the way and a quick email or call to Ian and I was sorted. He didn’t even make me feel stupid one time (and I asked a few stupid things).
12v connections – in the back ready for a DVD player to be plugged in
Number of passengers – 8 people could fit in! And a dog! 4 car seat anchor spots. What more could you ask for? Kevin the dog also LOVED it – space to sit at our feet and he also slept in the car and he NEVER sleeps in a car.

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Things I didn’t like so much

BLUE TOOTH AUDIO
I’m sure there was an easy way to connect my phone to the audio part of the car but I didn’t have the time or inclination to read the manual to do so. In other cars I have tried you can easily connect the music on your phone onto the stereo system via blue tooth but I couldn’t work it out.

SIZE
Although it may drive like a car, it still looks like a van. Which I suppose is no surprise when you are fitting 8 people in it! I was pretty scared to reverse park and only attempted it once on the very last day and the Harris Park car park defeated me…I drove out with my van tail between my legs with the girls telling me I was a scaredy cat. Whatever…I wasn’t going to scratch a brand new car! Like anything though, given a week or so more in it I am sure that this wouldn’t have been a problem and I would have been reverse parking like it was nobodies business. Compared with what we drive now…anything would seem bigger!

BUTTONS
There were SO many buttons on the control panel thing. Which I know that you would need because they all did something different – buttons to open each side doors, windows, back air con, front air con. I got myself quite confused and couldn’t work out where the back windscreen wipers were until the last day (the last day was evidently quite the breakthrough for me!). I couldn’t work out how to open the doors that get automatically locked…that kind of thing. Time would have helped but at times it was a little overwhelming.

SEATS
I found the back car seats quite hard to lift up (and impossible for a kid to do) it was heavy and clunky. Granted I had a shoulder injury at the time but I did have to put everything down to attempt to fold down the middle seat to get into the back.

I thought it best to give a big car like this a ‘proper’ go with more people in it so we headed out for the day with my sister, her husband, their dog and all of us to see how it went with 6 people and one dog.

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While the car drove beautifully and we had fun all together in the car as we drove around a few wineries on a beautiful Autumn day, some things remain the same on ANY road trip. Tears and tantrums, dropped toys on the floor, fights over every other thing. At least you can be further away in a people mover!

What’s important to you in family car?
Appearance? Safety? Space?
Anyone got a Valente?

Comments

  1. Mrs Woog says

    Excellent review Betty! And yes, you will be needing a 7 seater soon. SO MANY FRIENDS TO FERRY AROUND!

  2. Love it. We are actually looking at a van at the moment – not because we have many kids – but as our “big car” that will be used as a van occasionally. With all of the seats removed. Love a Merc too

  3. Chelsea says

    We finally upgraded poor old Ivic the Civic last year and my partner went to Brisbane to buy Muriel the Murano (cars must have names). At the time my only requirements were “I’d prefer an SUV with cup holders, steering wheel volume controls & power windows”. So Nick’s down at the auctions checking out these cars ringing me being all “Oh this one does (insert car feature here)” and I was just saying things like “What colour is it?”.

    • Cup holders are VERY important Chelsea! You know what I really want in a car? Knowing the outside temperature as I am a little weather obsessed. Simple really!

  4. We were just discussing our car v a van or a 4wd recently, all for the same reasons as you… the travelling around with friends. I always have an extra little one/two with us and to go out would be nice. But the size does scare me off a bit! Love this review.

    Thanks Beth x

    • Thanks Tara – like anything it just takes getting used to and confidence! This one really felt like a normal car to drive.

  5. love it and if you need help parking a van you’re always welcome to drive my 7 seater:) I’ve become a pro at reversing into spots in vans:)

  6. Buttons freak me out too! I’m also not totally convinced about this bluetooth business. It seems to take ages to connect to any device. I personally think bluetooth in general is a bit shit.

    • Blue tooth when done well is a thing of BEAUTY! We have a blue tooth portable speaker which I am in love with and in the car being able to chat to people while I drive the long distances I do just makes me happy. It’s efficient and if there is one thing I like Smags, it’s efficiency!

  7. I feel like a total Eastern Suburbs Posh Wanker when I drive our car – and I absolutely LOVE it! It’s black, sleek, sporty. I love that I just have to push a button to start it, that my phone connects automatically, it has digital radio and it has grunt. I also love the ‘clack, clack, clack’ sound the indicator makes. And this is coming from a Non Car Person!

  8. I’m like you with cars. I enjoy a nice car but I don’t really have an opinion on anything specific. Great review and I love the button open doors as heavy car doors make me feel weak and puny.

  9. Cheekiechops says

    I know a grouse chick who drives one of these with all her boys, it looks great and seems roomy enough for the entire neighbourhood . I, however, have a Kevin Bacon dog who would gladly ride in a car as good looking as this to match his style.

  10. Margaret Elvis says

    Wow! That is doing it in style. Myself, I don’t like those larger vehicles either on the road when you can’t see past them or in parking areas when you can’t see when you are reversing out from a parking spot. I think though that you did a wonderful criticism, both good and bad, of that vehicle but somehow feel it is perhaps not for you.

  11. Lisa Mckenzie says

    Good review Beth I am not a car person either but I like how you highlighted the good and bad points!

  12. Elisha Ross says

    Nice review there. Did you get a $ for this rig? We got picked up to go to the airport not long ago in a 7 seater Chrysler Van and that was a bloody nice car too. We are on the hunt for people mover so it is good to see what is around. Very timely so thank you.

    • I didn’t get the cost but just had a look over at Corrie’s post (she also did a review on it over on Retro Mummy). She had mentioned this: “Valente comes in at around $54,000 which is equivalent to the Multivan entry level model as well. If you want some of the extra features like we had in the model we test drove like the automatic doors and reversing camera then you will pay more and the model we drove as pictured here is about $74,000 on the road” she was always better on the detail! Hope this helps 🙂

  13. Charlotte says

    Great review! Looks like a good choice for bigger families.

    I really admire that you don’t splash your kids all over your blog too.

  14. Did you sit in the back seats Beth? I need something that older people could get into easily and that is comfy enough if we need to do road trips.

  15. Thanks – was looking for a “mum” review as we (family of six) are looking to upgrade from a 7 seat Territory. One thing I am concerned about with the Valente is the air con (we live in North Queensland). Dual zone air con doesn’t often cut it during summer here!

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