The compact wheelbase version we sampled is, at £16,750 plus VAT, the cheapest Vito and therefore the cheapest Mercedes CV on sale.
The refreshed LCV features, among other changes, a tweaked grille and light design and daytime running lights, while inside the driving position is generally good, the seat itself comfy, and cabin materials are largely of a decent standard. But on the flipside the cabin could do with more storage space, and the stereo’s sound quality isn’t great. The biggest issue, though, is the positioning of the pedals, which are set too high and upright, particularly for taller drivers, so that the movement from accelerator to brake pedal requires the driver to physically lift their foot upwards and across, rather than shift fluidly sideways. The gearbox on our test vehicle was also notchy, although it was a very low-mileage version that may improve with distance.
Apart from the pedals, the new Vito impresses, even in this spec. This 2.1-litre 95hp version doesn’t feel like the runt of the litter, with enough poke to cope with any driving style. The lack of power compared with its siblings only really manifests itself when heading towards the maximum 930kg payload, or with enthusiastic acceleration. Refinement and comfort also impress, being at least up with the class best, and even unladen the van absorbs, rather than inflicting the kind of bounce over speed bumps that might be expected from any LCV. The steering is direct yet light enough to make for easy urban manoeuvres, and without any serious eco effort we managed an impressive 34.5mpg from the varied town and motorway usage, which is only 1.7mpg off the claimed combined economy figure.
For whole-life costs this model sits in the middle of the pack, ahead of the equivalent Vauxhall Vivaro, Renault Trafic, Ford Transit and Toyota Hiace, but behind the Fiat Scudo, Nissan Primastar, Citroen Dispatch and Peugeot Expert, which comes out as the cheapest to run over four years and 80,000 miles, according to KwikCarcost.
The big problem for Merc is that while it has improved the Vito’s efficiency, it’s still off the leaders’ pace. The 110 CDI has an economy figure up 4.5mpg to 36.2mpg, but that’s still behind most rivals, with the Citroen, Fiat and Peugeot trio registering a 39.2mpg official figure. Excluding fuel, the Vito, in this spec, is beaten for overall running costs only by the L1 1000 90 version of the Peugeot Expert, despite the Mercedes costing more than all its rivals bar those from Ford and Vauxhall.
Finally, RVs are a particular strong point. KwikCarcost predicts that at four years old and with 80,000 miles under its wheels, the Vito will retain 24.2% of its value – although that is from an above average purchase price in the first place – a figure that can only be approached by the Nissan Primastar’s 23.2% and the Expert’s 20.2%. All other rivals fail to break the 20% barrier.
Comfortable, good quality and reasonably cheap to run for something with Merc’s brand cachet. The new Vito is undoubtedly a step forward.