Mercedes released the new Vito panel van for 2015 in May to rival the VW Transporter, Vauxhall Vivaro and vans alike – I’ve had the pleasure of running one for a while now and wanted to provide feedback on my real-life experiences with the 3rd Gen Vito.
Available in three variations, each with 3 separate wheelbase lengths – A Panel Van, Crew (5 seats plus load space) and a Tourer (a 9-seater aimed to sit below the V-Class in the Executive Travel industry)
The new Vito has been reworked significantly from its predecessor.
Those with older Mercedes Vans will be happy to hear this has a fully galvanised body to protect against rust, a maximum height of 1,910mm, it also has the highest payload in its class – up to 1,369kg of load capacity.
Physically, the most notable change is the Vitos nose, which has been changed drastically with a view to bringing it in line with the other two vans in the family – The small (Renault influenced) Citan and the iconic Sprinter. There is an impact area in front of the engine to allow the chassis to take the impact of a head-on collision, providing additional safety for the driver/passenger but also to keep repair costs down.
The dimensions and chassis for the loading area remain the same but Mercedes have improved pretty much every other area whilst wind resistance has been kept down to a Cd of 0.32 helping fuel efficiency. The vehicle produces some pretty impressive fuel consumption figures. Practically, 30-60mpg will be achieved dependant on driving conditions. A big influence on the whole life costs of the vehicle – something carefully considered by users.
Service intervals are close to every 30,000 miles, again making this more cost-effective the longer you run the vehicle for – Something Mercedes rely on as a main selling point for the vehicle.
Interestingly, the options continue with five engine variations for the new Vito, offering both FWD and RWD models!
For front-wheel-drive variants – Mercedes tell you this is best suited to transporting low payloads but honestly speaking its to allow the van to be sold in the lower end of the market and is significantly cheaper than the traditional RWD models.
There’s a 1.6-litre four-cylinder engine available with either 87bhp or 112bhp. Which frankly lacks grunt, the 87hp engine is barely enough to run the smaller Citan and is lost in a van of this size. The 112bhp variation is better but for those hardcore fans of the Vito, you’ll be glad to know the rear-wheel-drive model gives you a choice of 130bhp, 160bhp and 190bhp 2.2-litre diesel with the option to use the 7g-Tronic Auto Gearbox which really is beautifully smooth and responsive.
Those who fell in love with the old Sport/Sport-X model won’t have long to wait before a revised chrome-clad Sport model is released – pencilled in for release before the end of the year. However, I doubt it’ll follow the 3.0litre V6 format. I expect an aggressive map on the 2.2-litre turbocharged engine used in this Vito to put out closer to 230bhp rather than the current maximum of 190bhp.
Interior wise I found the Vito to be very comfortable and easy to use.
The Steering has been updated, using electromagnetic support, it’s adaptable and very light – it’ll almost surprise you how easy it is to swing the steering wheel round. And the fresh design of the multi-function steering wheel is easy to use and makes for a more car orientated driving experience.
The only oddity, the ignition switch is on the left-hand side and so if you have a bunch of keys hanging off of your keyring, it becomes quite frustrating to get the key in and out of the ignition barrel. Weird but I guess we can get used to that.
A leatherette finish can be had for less than £100 which really does make a big difference and sets the interior off really well. A good alternative to having the entire interior upholstered in genuine leather which wouldn’t get you much change from £2500!
Height and rake adjustable steering wheel is an optional extra (it should be standard)
The bulkhead in the panel van has been angled so the seats can be adjusted more so than in the older model – something that if you were over 6″2 you might struggle with. No more, a friend of mine – over 6″4 and he was quite comfortable in the new model both driving and as a passenger.
Models with a bulkhead suffer from noise resonating a bit, making it a little noisy in the cab.
Techwise Mercedes always come up trumps – Bluetec & Blue Efficiency Technologies are available – Blue Efficiency, in its most basic form, is stop-start technology, Bluetec is the inclusion of Adblue – the liquid used to burn off emissions in conjunction with the catalytic convertor.
Safety comes in the form of revised brake discs and Adaptive ESP as standard, with up to eight airbags available in Tourer models.
Attention Assist is included as standard and assesses the driver’s condition – with a small cup of tea icon on the dash presumably telling you to stop for a cuppa.
Crosswind Assist and tyre pressure monitoring is standard as well, Parking Assist will park the vehicle for you…if you trust it! (and are prepared to fork out for this option)
plus Blind Spot and Lane Keeping Assist – a subtle but effective vibration from the steering wheel as you pass over the lines in the road.
The Intelligent Light System, which adds LED indicators, daytime running lights, low-beam headlights and main beams with cornering function plus a whole host of other small adaptions is expensive but a lovely bit of kit for the van if you are going all out.
In conclusion, the Vito is a great vehicle with lots of great little tricks included and available as optional extra’s. Is it going to change the game? No, it isn’t and typically, competitors vans can be had for a much lower purchase price. If you have a buying cycle of 3 years or less then the Fords, VW & others might be a better choice but they will struggle with maintenance costs and over a longer period might prove to be a false economy – however the longer you own a Vito for the better. Residual Values will be higher, servicing costs will be lower and fuel consumption will be better on the Vito if you can swallow the higher purchase prices.
It’s worth mentioning, if you take out a Mercedes Servicing Package then you receive free comprehensive breakdown cover – another clever idea from Mercedes to bring further value to the vehicle and of course, keep you on their books until such time you replace the van.