By JAMES STANFORD
MERCEDES-BENZ is making a harder pitch for commercial van sales by lopping up to $5000 from the price of its upgraded Vito van.
The company has just launched an improved version of the one-tonne-rated hauler, which has more performance, uses less fuel and has an impressive amount of standard gear, including electronic stability control.
It has taken the chance to reposition the premium van with a new entry price of $37,990 for the 110 short-wheelbase model.
Most models have had $2000 cut from the sticker, including the best-selling 113 short wheelbase version, which is now $39,490.
Mercedes has reserved the $5000 price cut for its Vito Wagon, an eight-seat people-mover (with optional ninth seat) that now costs $52,990.
The move brings the slow-selling Mercedes people-mover to within $500 of the Toyota Tarago and within $3000 of the Volkswagen Multivan.
Mercedes has trimmed back the number of Vito variants offered from 20 to 13.
The Vito Van can be ordered in short and long-wheelbase forms, which measure 4763mm and 5238mm overall respectively. The Crew Cab, which has a second row of removable seats, is only available in one 5008mm length, as is the Wagon, which has three rows of seats.
There are four different engine options, all diesels, including a four-cylinder with three different outputs and a V6, all of which meet Euro 5 emissions standards. All send their power to the rear wheels.
The four-pot is a 2.2-litre common-rail direct-injection turbo-diesel with an oxidation catalytic convertor and particulate filter. It runs an exhaust gas recirculation system to meet Euro 5 rather than selective catalytic reduction that would require AdBlue urea liquid additive.
All three four-cylinder engines run the same hardware, but run different programs for different output levels.
The entry level Vito is called the 110, which produces 70kW of power at 3800rpm and 250Nm at 1200-2400rpm, followed by the 113 (100kW at 3800rpm and 310Nm at 1400-2600rpm) and the 116 (120kW at 3800rpm and 350Nm at 1600-2400rpm).
A new six-speed manual transmission has been added as the standard gearbox, while a five-speed automatic continues as an option.
The manual models run a stop-start system, which shuts off the engine when you pull up and reactivates it when you are ready to go, which helps to drive down fuel consumption and emissions by as much as 15 per cent.
The 113 and 116 manual models use 7.4 litres per 100km and emit 195g/km of CO2, while the 110 records 7.7l/100km and 203g/km.
Mercedes tweaked its 3.0-litre V6 turbo-diesel to improve power and fuel economy.
Available only with a five-speed automatic, the six-pot diesel now cranks out 10 per cent more power for a total of 165kW (torque peak remains at a respectable 440Nm at 1400-2800rpm), consumes 8.6L/100km and emits 226g/km.
The new Vito has a new-look front end, with a revised grille and redesigned headlights that now incorporate small LED daytime running lights as standard.
The substantially overhauled suspension still uses a MacPherson strut front set-up, but most of the components have been redesigned, including modified towers and new springs, dampers and anti-roll bar.
The independent rear suspension, which uses semi-trailing arms, has new control arms and fresh springs and dampers.
Vito Wagon remains the only van to achieve a five-star safety rating because it is fitted as standard with the full suite of safety gear including curtain airbags, while other Vito models score a four-star safety rating unless fitted with the optional curtain airbags (which require a bulkhead to be fitted).
All Vitos come standard with ABS (on discs front and rear), ESC, driver and passenger airbags, three-point seatbelts for all seats and brake lights that flash under extreme braking.
Other standard features include air-conditioning, remote locking, dual sliding doors, a tilt and reach-adjustable steering wheel, electric heated mirrors and 16-inch steel rims, while cruise control is standard on all except the base 110.
All models have lightly revised interiors, with a more durable fabric, new control buttons on the upper control panel and a new colour display sound system from Mercedes passenger cars with AUX plug and Bluetooth connectivity that is standard on all but the base 110.
The same models also get a standard multi-function steering wheel that includes audio controls as well as controls for the phone, which could be especially handy given this is a workhorse.
The gross permissible weight of the Vito now stands at 2.94 tonne for the Crew Cab and 3.05 tonne for the Van models, while the load area remains unchanged at 5.2 cubic metres for the short wheelbase and 6.3 cubic metres for the long wheelbase Vans.