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Mercedes-Benz Vito 2021 review: 116 Panel Van GVM test

The Mercedes-Benz Vito 116 panel van is purpose-built for long work days.

Daily driver score

3.8/5

Tradies score

3.8/5

The Mercedes-Benz Vito van range has this year benefited from safety and multi-media upgrades, as well as design alterations, which are aimed at making these work vehicles even more appealing to buyers in what is a hotly contested market.

But those improvements have brought a price increase across the range.

Bearing all this in mind, is the Vito worth your consideration? Read on.

Does it represent good value for the price? What features does it come with?

Our test vehicle, a two-seater Vito 116 LWB panel van has a manufacturer recommended list price of $56,100 (excluding on-road costs) and that’s with a seven-speed automatic transmission and rear-wheel drive

But our Vito was loaded with extras, but more about that soon.

The standard features list is not insubstantial and includes, among other things, AEB, a 7.0-inch multimedia touchscreen with Apple CarPlay and Android Auto connectivity. The standard features list is not insubstantial and includes, among other things, AEB, a 7.0-inch multimedia touchscreen with Apple CarPlay and Android Auto connectivity.

The standard features list is not insubstantial and includes, among other things, AEB, a 7.0-inch multimedia touchscreen with Apple CarPlay and Android Auto connectivity, Bluetooth 3.0 handsfree and media streaming, digital radio, multifunction leather-covered steering wheel, high gloss black trim, chrome interior package (air vents, aircon dials, inside door handles and surrounds), 16-inch steel wheels (with a steel spare), engine stop-start function, and more.

Our test vehicle’s $8715 worth of accessories fitted are colour-coded front and rear bumpers ($600), Audio 40 with satellite navigation ($700), Active Distance Assist ($1500), cargo solutions pack ($3800: Comfort front passenger bench seat, interior panelling to roof height in load compartment, full-width partition wall with window, wood flooring, sidewall tie-down rails, LED lighting strip in load compartment, tailgate), Comfort seats with lumbar support package ($600), plus Obsidian Black metallic paint ($1515).

So, our test vehicle’s ultimate price as tested ended up at $64,815 (excluding on-road costs).

The Vito rides on 16-inch steel wheels. The Vito rides on 16-inch steel wheels.

If you’re interested other key option include a full bulkhead with fixed window ($600), barn doors, opening to sidewall ($990), digital rear-view mirror ($900), and LED Intelligent Light System with High Beam Assist Plus ($3060).

Non-metallic paint options are Arctic White, Jupiter Red, Steel Blue, Broom Yellow, Pebble Grey and Granite Green.

Metallic paint options are Dark Graphite Grey, Selenite Grey, Brilliant Silver, Rock Crystal White, Cavansite Blue, Obsidian Black, and Hyacinth Red.

Is there anything interesting about its design?

Unless you’re really into them, vans are generally on the wrong side of attractive – and that’s no fault of theirs because a van’s design is driven by function rather than form.

Having said that, the Vito manages to land on the right side of ordinary with a nice combination of lines and looks.

Updates include a redesigned chrome grille, chunky air vents, piano-black trim and refreshed-look fabric upholstery.

The Vito manages to land on the right side of ordinary with a nice combination of lines and looks. The Vito manages to land on the right side of ordinary with a nice combination of lines and looks.

 

What are the key stats for the engine and transmission?

How practical is the space inside?

A van is intended as a complete mobile office so ease of use and comfort should be key. It’s a nice looking interior, but far more practical than it is posh, though this van wears a Benz badge. 

It has cloth seats and there are durable-looking plastic surfaces everywhere, but the steering wheel is leather wrapped.

Storage spaces include a lockable glovebox, dash-top slots as well as the usual door pockets and bottle-holder, a cup-holder at each end of the dash, and a deep centre console bin.

The 7.0-inch multimedia touchscreen, though clear and crisp, is too small for on-the-move reference.

It has cloth seats and there are durable-looking plastic surfaces everywhere, but the steering wheel is leather wrapped. It has cloth seats and there are durable-looking plastic surfaces everywhere, but the steering wheel is leather wrapped.

Charge points include two USB ports, and a 12V socket.

But what any self-respecting van shopper really wants to know about is a vehicle’s load-carrying capabilities, so here we go…

This Vito has a 1990kg kerb weight and a listed payload and GVM of 1060kg and 3050kg respectively. 

Official cargo volume is 6.6 square metres – so pretty big, to say the least – and there’s 1265mm between the rear wheel-arches, so a 1165mm standard Australian pallet will slot in, no worries.

For the record, the cargo space is 3061mm long in this LWB Vito, and 1709mm wide, and 1391mm high.

Our test vehicle had a sliding door on either side of the van (822mm opening width) and standard-issue twin barn doors at the rear. A single lift-tailgate is available as an option.

Official cargo volume is 6.6 square metres. Official cargo volume is 6.6 square metres.

The load space is equipped with sturdy-looking plywood panelling on the floor, walls and on the interior of the rear barn doors. It has eight fixed tie-down points plus eight moveable tie-down points: two on each interior wall (each attached to a wall-mounted track) and two each on two floor-rails, running parallel the length of the van’s load space.

There are LED lights on the left-hand side of the interior wall and a strip light at the rear.

The problem here is that many of these great load-space features – full-width partition wall with window, panelling, wood flooring, sidewall tie down rails, LED lighting strip – are not standard; they're part of the $3800 cargo solutions pack.

What's it like as a daily driver?

Unless you’ve spent a fair bit of vans in recent times, then it’s likely you don’t expect a lot from a van as a daily driver. 

Well, you’re sorely mistaken, my uninformed and inexperienced friend.

For years now vans have been narrowing the gap between themselves and passengers cars in terms of comfort, ride and handling and, well, pretty much everything else. Sure, they’ll never actually be as all-round passenger-friendly as a vehicle built specifically for such a purpose, but as load-lugging movers that have to carry a driver at the very least, they do rather well.

This Vito’s dimensions – including a 5370mm total length – add to its overall feeling of stability and control, even when unladen. This Vito’s dimensions – including a 5370mm total length – add to its overall feeling of stability and control, even when unladen.

For starters, the leather-wrapped steering wheel is reach- and rake-adjustable and the driver’s and passenger seats are four-way adjustable.

The Vito’s steering is light and nicely balanced, making this van easy to manoeuvre through congested city and suburban streets, and bustling industrial business parks.

The 2.2-litre engine feels right for the job and generally works nicely in concert with the well-calibrated seven-speed auto. The shifter-stalk’s position, where you might expect the indicator to be (on the right-hand side of the steering column) takes a little bit of getting used to.

This Vito’s dimensions – including a 5370mm total length – add to its overall feeling of stability and control, even when unladen.

What's it like for tradie use?

As mentioned, this Vito has a payload of 1060kg. Rather than our usual forklifted-load scenario, this time I hand-loaded 864kg into the van – 80 boxes, each weighing 10.8kg. So, with me and a bit of miscellaneous gear onboard (including vehicle-recovery equipment, first-aid kit, some tools etc) the van was about 100kg shy of the 1060kg mark but, for me, that was a close enough approximation of a GVM-testing burden.

I hand-loaded 864kg into the van – 80 boxes, each weighing 10.8kg. I hand-loaded 864kg into the van – 80 boxes, each weighing 10.8kg.

The van's Hankook Vantra LT tyres (205/65R16 103/101H) were set to 52 psi at the front and 57 psi at the rear (cold, and via a portable air compressor) as advised on this Vito's tyre placard.

So, how did the Vito do?

Very well. In the grand tradition of vans – and utes - everywhere, its ride and handling actually improved with much more weight onboard than when it’s unladen.

With the load evenly spread over the cargo floor space, the rear suspension compressed a tape-measured 40mm, and there was no discernible negative impact to ride quality from that point on.

This long-wheelbase Vito’s generous dimensions – including a 5370mm total body length – add to its feeling of stability and control, giving it an overall grounded sensation, even when unladen.

The van was about 100kg shy of the 1060kg mark. The van was about 100kg shy of the 1060kg mark.

Most other driving characteristics – steering, engine and throttle response and vehicle braking – remained as sound as a pound though, with few issues to contend with, while driving a near-fully-stocked van around town, through several industrial sites and along the highway for a 50km stretch.

There are a couple of minor issues though: the Vito’s long wheelbase makes the van feel quite low, especially when it is loaded – even when we were driving over minor speed bumps in the industrial site in which our storage facility is located, and sharply angled entries and exits to driveways can prove a challenge if you want to avoid scraping the undercarriage, or at least getting the distinct feeling that you’re about to; and engine braking suffers slightly as the smaller capacity engine seemingly has to work hard to effectively rein in proceedings on the way down long steep stretches of blacktop.

Towing capacities are 750kg (unbraked) and 2500kg (braked). Gross combined mass (GCM) is 5550kg.

How much fuel does it consume?

Official fuel consumption is listed as 6.7L/100km (on a combined cycle).

We recorded actual on-test fuel consumption of 11.49L/100km, and that included our loaded loop.

It has a 70-litre fuel tank and a 25-litre AdBlue tank.

Official fuel consumption is listed as 6.7L/100km (on a combined cycle). Official fuel consumption is listed as 6.7L/100km (on a combined cycle).

What safety equipment is fitted? What safety rating?

The Vito has a five-star ANCAP safety rating from testing in 2014. It has six airbags (front, thorax and window, all for driver and co-driver).

Driver assist-tech includes AEB, load adaptive control, crosswind assist, blind spot assist, lane keeping assist, reversing digital camera (with dynamic steering lines and three rear-view modes), active parking assist, and front and rear park sensors.

Driver assist-tech includes a reversing digital camera with dynamic steering lines and three rear-view modes. Driver assist-tech includes a reversing digital camera with dynamic steering lines and three rear-view modes.

What does it cost to own? What warranty is offered?

Modern-day vans are more comfortable and user-friendly than ever before – and this Vito is a prime example of that positive movement.

A van is a mobile office and, as such, has to be comfortable because the driver and possibly even a co-driver will spend long hours in the van, on the road and loading and unloading its rear load-space, over and over again.

It’s crucial that a work van is comfortable, safe and user-friendly – the Vito is all of those things and more.

The Vito’s LWB cabin is easy to spend a lot of time in and its load space is a versatile work area with impressive load-restraint flexibility.

Its high price-tag stings a bit, but the big bucks may not even register with some.

$60,500

Based on new car retail price

VIEW PRICING & SPECS

Daily driver score

3.8/5

Tradies score

3.8/5
Price Guide

$60,500

Based on new car retail price

Disclaimer: The pricing information shown in the editorial content (Review Prices) is to be used as a guide only and is based on information provided to Carsguide Autotrader Media Solutions Pty Ltd (Carsguide) both by third party sources and the car manufacturer at the time of publication. The Review Prices were correct at the time of publication.  Carsguide does not warrant or represent that the information is accurate, reliable, complete, current or suitable for any particular purpose. You should not use or rely upon this information without conducting an independent assessment and valuation of the vehicle.