Mercedes-Benz Vito Sport-X Dualiner Compact
What is it?
THE MERCEDES-BENZ Vito has been around for some time now, and despite an upgrade in 2010, you could think it might be seen as lagging behind certain rivals more recently reconfigured.
However, it’s far from dated and with the three-pointed star proudly emblazoned, it still holds its own among its contemporaries on the mean streets of Britain.
Our test vehicle – a Vito Sport-X Dualiner – positively oozes style. But there’s practicality, too. More and more small businesses find the flexibility of a crew van suits their operation, allowing similar cargo capacity to a panel van when a driver and one or two crew can handle the job, but with the capability to carry a driver plus five crew if required.
The load space is reduced with all six seats filled, but you don’t buy a crew van if all you need is a panel van. And you don’t buy the Sport-X version if you’re not looking for something a bit special.
When we tested the Sport model, we found the cab well appointed and comfortable and, as you’d expect, the Sport-X takes things up a notch, with dual-armrest front seats and colour-keyed red trim in the test model.
Sport and Sport-X come as standard with air conditioning, Bluetooth connectivity, an mp3, WPA-compatible CD player, Speedtronic and cruise control, multi-function steering wheel, chrome detailing and tinted privacy glass.
Driving position and visibility are excellent. Some might find the seats a little on the firm side, but I like the support they offer and always felt relaxed even after three hours-plus at the wheel. And it’s just as comfortable for rear seat passengers. The rear compartment is roomy and doesn’t feel at all cramped.
Access to the rear is via offside and nearside sliding doors, which are electrically powered making opening and closing effortless. If you’re prone to showing off, this is a really cool-looking feature, too!
We mentioned the quirky controls before in our Vito Sport test. The single stalk for both wipers and lights, as well as the foot-operated parking brake do take a little bit of getting used to, but without doubt the overall level of equipment – such as the multi-function steering wheel with trip computer and the cruise control – is high and easy to use.
The Vito comes with an armoury of safety and assistance systems as standard. All models have electronic brake force distribution (EBD) and adaptive brake lights which display an emergency braking signal when the brakes are fully applied.
ESP Electronic Stability Programme with anti-lock braking system (ABS), acceleration skid control (ASR) and brake assist (BAS) is fitted to all Vito models.
If you need to lug a trailer, vehicles factory fitted with a trailer coupling come with trailer stabilisation (also known as trailer stability assist –TSA) as standard. Start-off Assist (AAS), an automatic tyre pressure monitoring system, and a Parktronic parking and manoeuvring assistant and a reversing camera are optionally available.
The Sport-X is driven by a fire-breathing powerhouse of an engine – a four-cylinder V6 developing 224hp and 440Nm of torque. It’s pulls like a demon, is super-smooth and, according to Mercedes-Benz, combines economy with environment-friendliness. Combined cycle fuel consumption is a stated 32.5mpg with emissions at 229g/km. I managed an average 30.8mpg on a week of mixed driving, which included around town and motorway runs. Pretty good…
Transmission is via a delightfully slick five-speed automatic gearbox that also offers a sequential shift option allowing you to hold back on the ratios of you’re feeling especially sporty. The new chassis introduced in 2010 together with improvements to the suspension set-up and steering facilitate sharp handling and a good ride, making the Vito Sport-X a joy to drive.
With seats folded there’s decent cargo space with 1405mm length, maximum 1396mm width and load height of 1353mm, providing 3.0cu m of capacity.
The Vito is covered by a three-year unlimited mileage warranty and 24-hour roadside breakdown assistance throughout the UK and mainland Europe.