At the start of this year Mercedes rejigged its Vito line-up with the introduction of new trim levels.
In addition to marketing the medium van with standard kit across the range, including a leather steering wheel, auto headlights and parking sensors, with optional extras up for grabs on Compact, Long and Extra Long versions, the brand brought in a trio of defined specifications – Pure, Progressive and Premium – and rebranded the model’s lengths as L1, L2 and L3, which all sit under a single roof height.
Pure vans get equipment including an Audio 10 infotainment system, active parking assist, heated and electrically adjustable exterior mirrors, an overhead control panel, and heat-insulating glass.
Progressive spec adds metallic paint, colour-coded front and rear bumpers, an Audio 15 infotainment system, electrically folding exterior mirrors, front fog lamps, cruise control, full wheel trims, and driver’s seat lumbar support.
Range-topping Premium comes with aircon, 17in alloys, a chrome radiator grille, reversing camera, an anti-theft protection package and double lock, velour floor mats, and pre-installation for Becker Map Pilot navigation.
Build quality is typically excellent and the standard of fit and finish high, but the Vito falls down with a cabin that feels dated and cramped.
Mercedes has persisted with some of its quirks such as the foot-operated parking brake with its clunky hand release, windscreen wiper and light controls on the same side of the steering column, and stalk-operated cruise control. The middle seat in the cab allows no legroom for the passenger and the lack of DAB radio or satnav even on Premium trim is a letdown. The temperature controls are positioned quite low down in front of the gear stick and difficult to reach for the driver, but there is a decent amount of storage space, including three shelves on the top of the dashboard and a lockable glovebox.
Safety equipment includes crosswind assist and hill-start assist as standard and parking assist as an option.
The load bay is easily accessed via sliding doors on both sides as well as rear doors opening to 180°.
Pure trim was available with 109 CDI (88hp 1.6-litre), 111 CDI (114hp 1.6-litre) and 114 CDI (136hp 2.1-litre) engines, Progressive trim with all those plus the 116 CDI (163hp 2.1-litre) engine, and Premium trim with the 114 CDI, 116 CDI and 119 CDI (190hp 2.1-litre) engines.
The Renault-developed 1.6 engine comes with front-wheel drive vans whereas the 2.1-litre drivetrain is wedded to rear-wheel drive models.
In May, however, Mercedes uprated the compliancy of the RWD 2.1 engines from Euro6B to Euro6C with the two least powerful units (136hp and 163hp) available with six-speed manual or seven-speed automatic transmission and the 190 coming as an auto only. The FWD Vito was temporarily withdrawn but is expected to return to the line-up in September with a 102hp diesel engine.
Despite the specification upgrades the Vito is beginning to feel a bit long in the tooth compared to more youthful competitors such as the facelifted Ford Transit Custom and Renault Trafic and the new Vauxhall Vivaro, which is based on the impressive Peugeot Expert and Citroen Dispatch. And this is not to mention the Vito’s arch rival, the VW Transporter, a new version of which is being unveiled imminently.
We drove the 136hp 2.1-litre RWD 114CDI Vito, which produces peak torque of 330Nm. We had no complaints about the van’s performance or drive quality – it is powerful with the reassuringly precise electrically assisted power steering working well with the smooth changes of the manual gearbox in our van. The suspension is firm enough to keep body roll well under control when cornering but this in no way compromises ride comfort.
Mercedes-Benz Vito 114 CDI 2.1 136hp Premium
Price (ex VAT) £27,905
Price range (ex VAT) £20,630-£36,160
Service intervals 2yr/25,000mls
Load length 2,831mm
Load width (min/max) 1,685mm
Load bay height 1,392mm
Gross payload 709kg
Load volume 6.0m3
Engine size/power 2.143cc/136hp
Combined fuel economy 42.8mpg
A high-quality van but a dated cabin with some quirky features lets it down.