All-new Mercedes Vito van
Mercedes-Benz has revealed full details on its new mid-sized commercial vehicle challenger, the third-generation Vito. It comes in a variety of body styles and drive configurations, according to what sort of business you intend to do with your van.
Given there's only so much you can do stylistically within the inherent constricting framework of a commercial vehicle, the Vito doesn't look half bad. It has a big front grille reminiscent of the road-car range, while Merc is claiming an impressive Cd value (coefficient of drag) of 0.32, which is good for fuel economy (we'll come to that later). And as with any van in this day and age, variety is the spice of life. You can go for a two-door version with the smallest cab, or the four-door Vito Crew, which has two rows of seating plus some cargo space. The two Tourer versions - Vito Pro and Vito Select - slot a second passenger row of seats into the back, and Merc claims these machines are ideal for either 'hotel shuttle or taxi work'. Presumably, if you're a private buyer and you want to transport eight, Mercedes would rather you went for its larger, Viano-based V-Class.
There are three wheelbases for the Vito, all of which are 140mm longer than an equivalent preceding model. Overall length runs from 4,895- to 5,370mm, while maximum height is 1,910mm depending on model. This latter figure is important because it allows the Vito to get into multi-storey/underground car parks and automatic car washes. The Vito can also carry payloads of up to 1,369kg, with a maximum permissible gross vehicle weight of 3,200kg.
Finally, an optional Intelligent Light System (ILS) loads LEDs into the indicators, daytime running lights and low-beam headlamps/main beams, and equips the Vito with a cornering light function too. Thus ILS varies the light distribution, depending on whether you're driving on a country road or a motorway, for instance. Very clever.
Big noises made here about more comfort and space for the driver and passenger, with a redesigned, 'high-quality' cabin. Mercedes has paid a lot of attention to stowage, while the Vito range will come with plenty of safety equipment and driver assistance aids. The Vito is apparently the only panel van to offer airbags and seatbelt reminders for both occupants as standard, while the Tourer twins come with window airbags and thorax/pelvis side bags in the front; indeed, the Tourers boast eight airbags in all.
The driver aid technologies include Attention Assist (monitors the driver's fitness to control the vehicle), Crosswind Assist (mitigates gusts of wind acting on the van) and tyre-pressure monitoring, plus options such as Active Parking Assist (although, surely, any self-respecting van driver would scoff at not being able to park their vehicle themselves), Blind Spot Assist and Lane Keeping Assist (these latter two should help improve the White Van Man's aggressive driving reputation, hopefully).
Under the bonnet
The Vito can be either front- or rear-wheel drive, depending on which model and wheelbase you go for, which is something that is first-in-class for this size of CV. The front-wheel drive vans are lighter and for less demanding loads, with the rear-wheel drive the tougher workhorse. The front-drivers come with a 1.6-litre four-cylinder diesel engine, with either 88hp (109 CDI) or 114hp (111 CDI). The rear-drivers get a larger, 2.15-litre four-cylinder diesel in three power trims: the 114 CDI with 136hp; the 116 CDI with 163hp; and the range-topping 119 BlueTec with 190hp. The last of these is the first Euro 6-compliant engine in class.
A six-speed manual gearbox drives all models bar the 119 as standard, while a 7G-Tronic Plus automatic is optional on the 114 and 116 models, and standard on the 119 BlueTec. Again another first, as this is the only auto transmission with a torque converter and seven gears in the van world. Mercedes talks about the suspension being enhanced to make the Vito more pleasant to travel in, whether laden or not, with new spring and damper tuning and a semi-trailing arm rear axle with coil springs. While they're designed for heavy loads, the Crew and Tourer models can be fitted with optional 'comfort' suspension, given they will more often be carrying people rather than goods. The Vito also has disc brakes all round and Adaptive ESP stability control as standard.
Any idea of the cost?
Full pricing and specifications are yet to be confirmed, but Mercedes does say the Vito should be cheap to run. This is because the engineers designed it for maximum fuel efficiency. In conjunction with its slippery coefficient of drag figure, the electromechanical power steering, the transmissions, the low-friction rear axle and BlueEfficiency tech on the rear-wheel drive models all help to improve the Vito's consumption by 20 per cent over the old model; as an example, the 116 CDI BlueEfficiency can return 49.6mpg, unmatched in this category. Furthermore, the Vito has long service intervals of either 40,000 kilometres or two years, whichever is sooner.
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