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Mercedes Vito
This is a very competitive sector, and the Vito struggles with some of the new vans around. But for image and quality, it’s still hard to follow

MERCEDES-BENZ VITO 2.1CDI 113 Compact 136

What is it?

You’ve got to feel a bit sorry for the Vito really.

It’s been a rock solid performer in the medium panel van sector for 18 years now, but such is the huge popularity of the bigger Sprinter that it has been very much left in the shade.

it’s the only medium panel van to come in three lengths – compact, long and extra long

Add to this the fact that this segment has been dominated by the Volkswagen Transporter almost since the beginning of time and you’ll see what a struggle the German manufacturer has had in making it a more popular choice for UK operators.

Mercedes-Benz is well aware of this problem – which is about to get even worse now the much-feted Ford Transit Custom has arrived – and has been pushing Vito as a credible alternative to the smaller Sprinter versions. After all, the biggest Vito and the smallest Sprinter almost overlap each other in payload and cargo volume.

The Vito was last upgraded in 2011, with sharper looks, more fuel-efficient Euro 5 engines and an upgraded chassis underneath.

And Vito has quite a few USPs over the rivals.

For starters, it’s the only medium panel van to come in three lengths – compact, long and extra long – and all models get a six-speed gearbox and ESP stability control as standard.

This system helps stop sideways skids and has been lauded as the best safety invention since the seatbelt. On rivals the Citroen Dispatch, Fiat Scudo, Peugeot Expert, Renault Trafic and Vauxhall Vivaro it’s a paid-for option.

There’s a high roof option too, so load volumes go right up to 6.5 cubic metres.

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Two engines are on offer – 2.1-litre four cylinder and 3.0-litre six cylinder – and power outputs go from 95bhp to a mind-blowing 224bhp. Don’t even think about that one unless you have VERY deep pockets or an uncle who happens to own an oil refinery!

We chose the short wheelbase 136bhp model for our Vito van review as it’s one of the most popular models on offer

There’s also a Blue Efficiency version with auto stop-start, special tyres with lower rolling resistance and a few other tweaks and twiddles which improve fuel economy on the combined cycle from 36.7mpg to 38.7mpg. You’ll save 112 gallons of fuel over an 80,000-mile lifecycle (£696 at today’s fuel prices) but as this van costs £630 than the test model, we don’t see much in it.

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