New Mercedes-Benz Vito delivers more for less

I have been very impressed with the new Mercedes-Benz Vito van range on a number of levels, and I expected it to continue to be the most expensive of the main competitors in this important van segment. The old Vito was €1,860 (ex-VAT ) higher than the least expensive comparative entry level prices in that range.

In panel van format, prices for the new Vito range prices begin at €18,650 (ex taxes and delivery related charges ). That is €930 less than the old model - a real surprise. It brings it below the Volkswagen Transporter and within €155 of the entry-level Ford Custom.

The other entry level versions include the Mixto crew cab range which starts from €37,790 (incl VAT and VRT ). The Tourer range starts from €47,950 (incl VAT and VRT ). The latter would be circa €2,500 less than the outgoing equivalent model.

On top of that, all Vito models sold before the end of August this year will come with a three-year warranty and three-year service contract. That is based on three services with 40,000 service intervals. These special introductory offers along with competitive price-to-specifications values underline the appeal of the all-new Vito.

I cannot recall when I have previously dedicated the early paragraphs of a review to pricing, but let's face it, that has been the perception that has probably kept thousands of van buyers from getting to the test drive stage with previous Vito models back to 1997 when it first appeared in Ireland.

Mercedes-Benz Commercial has targeted a top three sales position for the new Vito range by 2017. Back 18 years ago, there was a lot less competition in the mid-capacity van segment that now has up to four times more van marques now looking for a slice of new van sales.

More than good pricing

So getting past the positive price issue, there in much more to the new Vito that appeals to me and I'm betting to Irish van buyers too.

The new Vito range encompasses the familiar Vito panel van, the versatile Mixto crew cab unit, and a Tourer crew bus with seating for up to nine occupants.

Compact and more stylish looking on the outside, roomy on the inside, the Vito panel van has a cargo volume of up to 6.9m, a cargo area of up to 4.76m and a loading length of up to 3.061m.

In Mixto crew cab format, it has room inside for up to six people, a cargo volume of up to 4.1 cubic metres and a load area behind the rear seat row of up to 2.63 sq. metres.

The third model in the range - the Tourer crewbus – has a versatile seating concept with space for up to nine people and 970 litres of luggage, all within a model that boasts car-style handling and an impressively tight turning circle of 11.8 metres approximately.

Viewed from the front, the new Vito has been given a more powerful and more confident appearance. It is more sharply contoured. It also features a more robust fascia, dynamic grille complete with M-B star and flanked by wing-shaped headlamps.

Inside, the high-quality cockpit is fully redesigned. It is even more spacious than before and is clear and uncluttered, which of course helps maximize operational safety. You can move the position of the bulkhead back, giving the driver and two passengers more legroom, and the backrest can also recline slightly.

Among the many features likely to give Vito a market edge is the choice of rear-wheel or front-wheel drive formats. Available in two wheelbases, it is the only model in its class produced in three lengths, all 140mms longer than its predecessors (4895mm, 5140mm and 5370mm ). So it can take up to three Europallets in line.

It also has the highest payload in its class at 1369kg and up to three permissible gross vehicle weight variants (between 2.8 and 3.2 tonnes ). With a Cd value of 0.32, it boasts low wind resistance, reduced fuel consumption, improved performance and a 20 per cent lower average diesel consumption than before.

Power comes from two, four-cylinder turbo-diesel engines in five power ratings. In FWD guise - power comes from

a transverse-mounted, compact 1.6-litre four-cylinder engine delivering two power ratings – an 88bhp 109 CDI and a 114bhp 111 CDI.

Where performance demands are high, the 2.15-litre RWD unit is

the Mercedes-Benz recommended choice. It is available with three power outputs - a 136bhp 114 CDI, a 163bhp 116 CDI and a 190bhp 119 BlueTEC version – the first Euro 6 engine in this class.

Six-speed manual transmission is standard, as are the aforementioned long service intervals of up to 40,000 km or two years. The steering is electromechanical power assisted, while new safety features include powerful 16" or 17" disc brakes with the new Vito being the first van to have adaptive ESP as standard. I recall that the first Vito was the first van with ABS as standard, and the out-going Vito was the first to have ESP on all versions.

Other safety features which are included as standard on all models include, 'attention assist' to monitor the driver’s condition and 'crosswind assist' (as on the Sprinter ) to eliminate the effects of wind gusts. Tyre pressure monitoring is also standard, so too are twin driver and passenger airbags. It also has a Bluetooth radio and air-con is an option.

Meanwhile a new ‘intelligent’ light system that includes an extensive use of latest LED technology can be fitted as optional.

Signalled to be a strong contender in local a

nd international competitions, the Vito is described

by Mercedes-Benz commercial vehicle sales manager Fergus Conheady as being the ‘lifeblood’ of the Mercedes-Benz light commercials range.

“Set to build on the success achieved by its predecessor, the new Vito offers owners one of the best price-to-specifications values in the light commercials segment with the prospect of high return on investment thanks to its competitive prices and reduced operational cost,” he says.

If you are in the market for a new van in this segment, you should check out the new Vito van. Mercedes-Benz expects to sell about 270 in the remainder of this year. Expect to see fleets to also show much more interest with the new 1.6 litre engine and FWD option.

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