Mercedes-Benz launches new Vito range

By: Matt Wood


Mercedes-Benz has unveiled its new Vito van range with a host of safety options

Mercedes-Benz launches new Vito range
New Mercedes-Benz Vito van.

 

Mercedes-Benz has upped the ante in the mid-sized van market with the local launch of a new Vito van.

Final mile may be booming, and Benz has elected to offer a price-conscious entry level offering, the 111 which, as a first for Benz, also uses front wheel drive.

The front wheel drive Vito 111 uses a Euro 5 1.6-litre turbo diesel that puts out 84kW and 270Nm, and is available only as a six-speed manual.

The entry level van can however take a payload of 1285kg.

The rest of the Vito range uses a Euro 6 2.2-litre SCR turbo-diesel that is available in three different power ratings; 100kW/330Nm, 120kW/380Nm and 140kW/440Nm.

The rear wheel drive Vito line up also gets the option of a 7G-Tronic torque converter automatic, which is a first in the mid-size van market.

Dianne Tarr, managing director of Mercedes-Benz Vans, Asia-Pacific says that the all-new van represents an investment of 190 million ($286 million) and is the result of seven years of development.

"There’s no compromise on quality," Tarr says. 

The regime for the Vito included 5.5 million kilometres of testing.

"That’s 138 times around the globe," says Tarr.

"We are setting the benchmark on quality and safety," she continues. "We will never be the cheapest but we will offer the best value and the lowest total cost of ownership."

The new drive trains are touted to have increased fuel efficiency by up to 30 per cent, while engine torque has also increased by eight per cent.

The Vito is available with a whole suite of new safety gear, some standard and others optional extras. But the inclusion of the ESP9i electronic stability program that debuted in the updated Sprinter 18 months ago is a big plus.

This includes Cross Wind Assist, Acceleration Skid Control, Brake Prefill that anticipates emergency braking, Brake Disc Wipe that assists with wet weather braking, Roll Over Mitigation, Roll Movement Intervention, Hill Start Assist, Load Adaptive Control and Enhanced Understeer Control.

Blind Spot Assist detects vehicles in the van’s blind spots and alerts the driver with an illuminated triangle on the mirrors, an alarm will also sound if the indicator is then used.

Also standard is Attention Assist, which monitors 70 different inputs from the driver to detect fatigue.

A coffee cup symbol appears on the instrument panel when fatigue is detected, leading one wag to go searching for the coffee machine during our drive of the new van.

The Vito is available in panel van and in crew cab forms. The new crew model features a row of seats in the cargo area and sliding doors on both sides of the vehicle. The crew cab is available on the rear wheel drive 114 and 119 variants.

An optional Intelligent LED lighting package is also available for the Vito, which boasts a 10,000 hour lifespan and focuses low beam lights on the important parts of the road. High beam assist keeps the headlights out of other drivers' eyes at night.

Auto Park Assist is also available, a feature where the van will measure parking spaces in the street at speeds of under 35kmh and alert the driver of an appropriately sized space. The van will then park itself.

An interesting feature of the Vito is the addition of a QR code that can be scanned by emergency services in case of an accident. The code contains information on where batteries and fuel tanks are located and where to cut the vehicle in an emergency situation.

Test drive

My first drive was actually behind the wheel of the passenger-focussed Valente in Sydney peak hour traffic.

And apart from some hare brain fiddling with the touch screen sat nav, which embarrassingly turned out not to be a touch screen, the people mover was a very civilised way to carve through the rat race.

Ergonomically the Vito/Valente is easy enough to be in as long as you accept some Benz design quirks.

The time honoured foot operated Benz park brake is still apparent and the auto transmission selector is very fiddly to use.

The 7G-tronic stalk is on the right hand side of the steering column and "Park" is selected by pushing the end of the stalk.

The 2.2-litre Euro 6 engine is quiet and has plenty of poke when unladen and keeping up with the rest of Sydney’s frantic commuters was no challenge.

I got to spend some more time with the new engine, this time in the Vito at Eastern Creek Raceway.

It’s fair to say that a racetrack isn’t the most logical place to flog a commercial vehicle but the Vito did a pretty good job of pushing around the circuit at speed. The ESP9i system also did a very good job of keeping me on the track and in control.

Early verdict

The new Vito looks a classy commercial vehicle and is a positive performer. And provided you’re prepared to tick the options list, it provides an impressive list of safety options.

Pricing starts at $37, 140 (MRLP) including GST for the base FWD 111CDI Vito.     

Subscribe to ATN to read the full review in an upcoming issue.

 

 

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