Although sedans have typically been considered the ultimate in executive transport, Mercedes-Benz makes a compelling case for vans with its Viano Vision Diamond concept unveiled at the Beijing Auto Show.
Featuring a custom two-tone paint job with a hand-painted gold stripe, Mercedes makes it clear this is no airport shuttle. But the elegant paint scheme is just the tip of the iceberg on this high-tech hauler.
The passenger compartment windows, as well as the rear window and the glass partition between the chauffeur and the passenger compartment, are equipped with the impressive-sounding Magic Sky Control system, which enables passengers to change interior lighting conditions with the push of a button. And we're not just talking about reading or dome lights. The system can actively change the opacity of the windows, thanks to a liquid embedded into the window glass that is sensitive to changes in electrical current.
Although the chauffeur's area is generously covered in black nappa leather on the seats, door panels, instrument panel, steering wheel, shifter, and A- and B-pillars, the real place to be is in the passenger compartment. As a contrast to the "working" area up front, the passenger compartment is finished completely in porcelain white, including the carpeting, seatbelts and headliner.
In addition to the active window tinting described above, the passenger area features two seats with built-in calf benches and footrests, as well as heating, cooling, and massage functions. But not every vehicle has built-in champagne glass holders and silver Champagne flutes, which will appear at the passenger's demand with the push of a button. If you're really looking at getting the party started early, the side paneling has spaces for five bottles of champagne. And to keep the bubbly at the perfect chilly temperature, the champagne bottle holder is equipped with a cooling system. If the five bottles of champagne don't help you get lucky, perhaps the eight diamonds embedded in the interior trim signifying the lucky Chinese number eight might help.
Of course, what would an upscale ride be without a top-shelf audio system? The Viano Vision Diamond doesn't disappoint with a Bang & Olufsen sound system, which can be operated by iPad2 or iPhone4 with a special app. The mobile devices can also control the interior lighting and the sound system for the 40-inch screen, which can be used for watching television, surfing the Internet, and video conferencing. The center console between the rear seat has a docking station to accommodate your i-device of choice. The video screen and partition can be raised or lowered by the passenger, and a built-in WLAN helps facilitate communication on-the-go.
Interested? Unfortunately, the Viano is not sold in the U.S. but a similar treatment could probably be applied to the larger Sprinter, and several aftermarket upfitters have already applied their custom treatment to the big van.