Highly specced sport vans are increasingly popular with image-conscious customers who want something more than a working tool for both leisure and business use.
Sitting pretty at the prestige end of the market is the Mercedes-Benz Vito Sport-X Compact Dualiner. It is a smart, sophisticated piece of kit with a price tag to match – £34,375 excluding VAT and options. But you do get plenty of goodies. These include (take a deep breath), metallic paint, aircon, Sport X-branded floor mats, roof rails and Brabus 18-inch alloys that chime nicely with the aggressive-looking Brabus front spoiler and chrome sidebars.
You also get colour-coded bumpers, leather-covered steering wheel, electrically adjustable and heated mirrors, chrome grille and tailgate trim, illuminated exits, the Comand Alpine audio navigation centre, light and rain sensors, the obligatory privacy glass and lots of storage space.
Performance, of course, is awesome. The 3.0-litre 224hp V6 is mated to slick five-speed automatic transmission and propels the Sport X from 0-60mph in nine grin-inducing seconds and on to a claimed top speed of 125mph. It’s just as well that the Speedtronic cruise control comes with a top-speed limiter to curb your enthusiasm if necessary.
The Dualiner can carry five people in considerable comfort thanks to the quick-release row of three seats in the rear. These can be removed if you can’t fit in your surfboards around them. The interior is roomy with ample stretch and legroom for all occupants, and there is even enough space for a large hold-all full of sports gear or perhaps a picnic basket packed with energy-rich isotonic drinks and spinach between the driver and front passenger seats. This can be accommodated thanks to the lack of a handbrake due to Mercedes’ perseverance with its much-derided foot-operated parking brake.
Meanwhile, sliding doors on both sides and a hinged tailgate ease access to the generous load area.
A couple of quibbles are that our test van came without a parking sensor, which seems bizarre considering how well endowed with kit it was, and that there’s no grab handle on the driver’s side, although there is a moulding for one.
A real head-turner though not cheap, but there’s plenty of substance and practicality too.