Business Van Review of the Mercedes Vito
WE’VE always been massive fans of the Mercedes-Benz Sprinter here at businessvans.co.uk – and the three-pointed star in general to be honest.
The products are always top quality, the technology is usually way ahead of the opposition and the drivability is invariably superb.
But we’ve been rather more ambivalent over the years about the smaller Mercedes Vito.
The Mercedes Vito always seemed to be rather over-engineered. And this was reflected in the relatively high front-end price, which put it out of touch with some of the better value opposition in terms of pence per mile running costs.
Mercedes is well aware of these problems and has solved them by launching a brand new Vito that could well blow the opposition out of the water – (see our verdict below).
How has this transformation been achieved?
Basically by splitting the Mercedes Vito into two distinct models – front-wheel drive versions with a 1.6-litre engine for relatively lightweight urban use and rear-wheel drive 2.1-litre versions for heavier use.
That way the price (for FWD models anyway) will come down more to the level of the other vans in the medium sector, although we won’t know exact details until nearer the official launch next April.
So have the engineers at Mercedes miraculously produced their own 1.6-litre unit out of a top hat?
Indeed they have not. Instead they’ve turned to their partners at Renault (which already builds the Citan at its plant in Maubeuge) and blagged that oh-so-sweet little unit that at present powers the new Renault Trafic and Vauxhall Vivaro.
But when we flew to Vitoria in Spain to drive the new van, Mercedes-Benz bosses were keen to tell us that they didn’t just use this engine as it was. Instead it’s been “Mercified”. That means adjustments to the combustion process, changes to the fuel injectors and exhaust treatment and a different engine management system.
Power outputs for the new Mercedes Vito range from 88bhp to 190bhp.
Gross vehicle weights, meanwhile, go from 2.5 tonnes to 3.2 tonnes, there are two wheelbases, three load lengths and payloads up to 1,369kg – a best-in-class figure.
The new Mercedes Vito is now 140 mm longer than the old one, but the extra comes at the front for added crash protection. The load area remains the same as the old model.
In addition to the front and rear wheel drive models there will be a four-wheel version which won’t make it here. Mercedes has also decided to scrap the electric version which is currently available for the old model. Apparently the demand simply is not there to make such a vehicle a viable business proposition.