Car reviews - Mercedes-Benz - Valente - range
Active standard safety features, forward vision, versatility and capacity, fuel economy, quiet and spacious cabin, composed ride and balanced handling
Room for improvement
Reversing camera and sensors should be standard, touchscreen might be better for this sort of vehicle, Valente seating system a little cumbersome
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23 Jul 2015
SITTING amid the throng of a Sydney morning peak, the Vito is in its home environment.
The fuel-saving idle-stop system is keeping the fuel use down as the traffic from the Harbour Bridge dives around the 114 Crew Cab, which smoothly and quietly finds its way through the traffic snarl typical of the life it is destined to lead.
Cabin quietness – even with the open loadspace – is not overrun with booming or thrumming, nor is it beaten senseless by diesel clatter from the 2.2-litre four-cylinder engine, which returned 5.0 and 6.0 litres per 100 kilometres following a city crawl and motorway run to the city's west.
The four-cylinder powerplant is quiet and, while not overly abundant in its torque, has enough to steadily accelerate away from the pack as required.
Steering effort is minimal but the helm is not as numb as you might expect from a vehicle more focussed on payload and cargo space than cornering.
A stint on a skidpan showed its braking and dynamics (admittedly unladen) are more deft than disastrous, with active safety systems more than able to keep it civilised in conditions that are anything but.
Clear instrumentation and an infotainment system easy enough to use (once you stop trying to use it as a touchscreen), climate control and Bluetooth all contribute to easy work in comfortable (if firm) seating behind the plastic steering wheel – leather-wrapping range-wide would be a nice touch.
Switching to the passenger-focussed Valente offered some pleasant surprises, not the least of which was the presence of six child seat anchor points.
The tether points were at the base of the backrests in both rear rows, something that purpose-built people-movers from several manufacturers are yet to master, leaving tether straps to render third rows nigh on useless for passengers.
The rear benches are also equipped with four of its six seats set up for Isofix anchorages – the two kerbside seats are devoid of the anchorages for easier access to the remaining seating positions.
The absence of a standard reversing camera and parking sensors front and rear – all appear on the options list – is a little perplexing for a company spruiking safety credentials.
Any vehicle with an aim of transporting families with a large number of offspring should have as standard the reversing camera and parking sensors.
It's not an oversight exclusive to Mercedes-Benz and tragic accidents regularly remind of the need for both systems working in concert.
The rear rows can be removed, folded or moved along the floor rails with more effort than might be easily exerted by some, a symptom of its commercial origins.
Also betraying the light-commercial vehicle DNA is the absence of moving glass for the rear two rows, which makes the rear air-conditioning vital for second and third-row occupant comfort.
More real road time behind the wheel of both – preferably with appropriate loads on board – might give a better impression of the prowess but first impressions suggest the new Vito and Valente won't let the commercial side of the Benz business down.
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