Bridging act: The Valente is priced only $1500 more than the previous position occupied by the Vito Wagon, but is fitted with a host of extra equipment to offer better value and a bridge between Vito and Viano.
Mid-range Vito van-based Valente people-mover slots into Merc range, from $54,490
MERCEDES-BENZ has introduced a new commercial vehicle-based people-mover, dubbed the Valente, and has repositioned the related Vito and Viano wagons in order to boost the luxury marque’s sales in the low-volume segment.
Pricing of the Vito eight-seat passenger wagon has fallen $3000 to a $49,990 starting point, leaving the more highly specified – and similarly eight-seater – Valente to slot in at $54,490 and act as a bridge to the more luxurious Viano, which is available with either seven or eight seats and is now priced from $79,490.
The latter is $4500 more expensive than before, although Mercedes-Benz Australia/Pacific has advised that from November 2011 production the Viano has added a number of previously optional features – most of which were found in a $4995 package – including a reversing camera, power-adjustable front seats (with memory and heating), ‘white scale’ instrument illumination and an iPod, USB and aux-in multimedia interface.
The introduction of Valente comes 12 months after Viano was moved further upmarket with a new V6 diesel engine and $5000 was slashed from Vito Wagon pricing to bring it closer to rivals such as the Volkswagen Multivan and Toyota Tarago.
The Valente is positioned around $3000 below Australia’s luxury car tax threshold, although ticking the box on options such as the $4490 Comand APS satellite-navigation system (with reversing camera and other multimedia features) will tip it over the line.
The Valente is fitted with an upgraded twin-turbocharged version of the Euro 5 emissions-compliant 2.1-litre four-cylinder common-rail diesel engine powering the (single-turbo) Vito Wagon, producing 120kW (up 20kW) and 360Nm (up 50Nm).
Fitted with a revised five-speed automatic transmission – now with different mapping to match the power upgrade, according to Mercedes – the Valente has combined-cycle fuel economy of 8.2L/100km and CO2 emissions of 216g/km.
This is the same consumption and emissions listed for the 113 CDI powering the Vito Wagon.
Other equipment separating Valente from Vito – which essentially raids the optional equipment list on the base wagon – include the standard fitment of 17-inch alloy wheels on 225/55 R17 tyres (up from 16s), Parktronic front and rear parking sensors, tinted windows, Thermotronic dual-zone climate-control air-conditioning, a light and rain sensor, thorax airbags, front window airbags, upgraded stereo with CD changer and multimedia interface, an auto-dipping rearview mirror, leather-clad steering wheel and gearshifter, carpet flooring and ‘soft-touch’ cockpit trim.
The Comand sat-nav kit is one of four optional equipment packages available on Valente. The others are dual electric sliding doors ($2490), bi-Xenon headlights ($1590) and an alarm system ($590).
The Valente tips the scales at a hefty 2155kg (unladen) and measures 5008mm long, 1901mm wide and 1875mm high. Maximum braked towing capacity is a useful 2000kg and the turning circle is 11.8m, while inside the cargo capacity is 730 litres.
Also sold in one highly specified model variant, the Viano Ambient 3.0 CDI BlueEfficiency uses a 165kW/440Nm 3.0-litre V6 diesel that drives the rear wheels (as is the case with the Vito/Valente) through a five-speed automatic.
Viano mileage is rated at 8.6L/100km and CO2 emissions 226g/km.
The Mercedes MPVs have a number of rivals including the VW Multivan (from $54,990), Toyota Tarago (from $52,490), Chrysler Voyager (from $57,000) and Kia’s upscale Grand Carnival Platinum (from $56,190).
VFACTS figures show that people-movers accounted for just 1.1 per cent of all new-vehicle registrations in Australia last year, with the 11,109 units representing a 12.2 per cent decline on the previous year.
Of these, Mercedes recorded 103 Vito and 176 Viano sales.
Mercedes-Benz commercial vehicles managing director Kolja Rebstock said the company developed the Valente “following feedback from our customers and dealers to provide a mid-range people-mover variant below the upscale Viano”.
“Valente will provide customers with a family vehicle which is truly easy to own, easy to drive and is priced right in the heart of the people-mover segment,” Dr Rebstock said.
“We expect that it will strongly make its presence felt in the people-mover segment.”