The Benz van has refined engines, ample space — and, as extra-cost options, safety kit galore.
Launched with a raft of improvements, Benz's Vito van falls short when it comes to standard safety features.
For the first time, the advanced hauler introduces clever driver aids from Mercedes passenger cars to the van segment. These are optional — although the smart electronic stability control, which can counter the effects of crosswinds, is standard.
In terms of passive safety gear, Mercedes-Benz fits just two airbags as standard to keep costs down. This is in line with most vans in the segment, although Ford fits six airbags to the class-leader Transit Custom.
For the Vito, buyers will need to pay $700 for dual side airbags and an additional $790 for curtain airbags.
Transit Customs are the only vans in the class with a five-star crash rating across the range. The Vito is yet to be tested.
The safety issue takes some attention away from the innovations in the Vito, among them super-clean diesel engines that are its most frugal to date and a new entry-level front-drive model using a smaller engine.
This 1.6-litre diesel, in the base 111, lowers the Vito entry price to $37,140, which is roughly in line with the Transit Custom and a step above diesel versions of the Toyota HiAce and Hyundai iLoad.
The single turbo common rail job makes 84kW/270Nm and is equipped with Selective Catalytic Reduction technology that injects AdBlue fluid to help clean the exhaust. All Vito engines now meet the strict new Euro VI emissions standard, a step ahead of ours.
The three companion models are rear-drive, powered by a 2.1-litre four-cylinder turbo with SCR. Outputs range from 100kW/330Nm to 140kW/440Nm.
There are short and long wheelbase versions and two crew cabs
The base transmission is a six-speed manual, while an excellent seven-speed conventional torque converter automatic adds $2875.
All engines are fitted with stop-start technology and the fuel economy figures are strong. Official combined figures are 6.0L-6.4L/100km.
There are short and long wheelbase versions and two crew cabs. Cargo volume ranges from 5.8to 6.9 cubic metres.
The maximum payload figure is 1285kg for the front-drive 111 and, for the rear-drive SWB, 1180kg.
With the Vito, Mercedes introduces a wide range of optional technology to the medium van class.
There are lane departure, fatigue and blind spot warnings, self-parking, intelligent LED headlights and radar crash avoidance (which warns the driver of an impending impact and boosts braking).
The optional steel bulkhead behind the driver and passenger is $590. A reversing camera is available and costs $900.
Working Wheels tested the Vito in Sydney and came away impressed.
Tuned for efficiency, the base 1.6 needs to be pushed hard to get along but gets the job done. The 2.1 is a lovely engine with loads of torque and the automatic transmission makes life easy.
Refinement is near the top of the class and the steering is light, requiring little effort.