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Car reviews - Mercedes-Benz - Viano - people-mover range

Our Opinion

We like
Powerful engine, high level of standard equipment, practicality and interior space
Room for improvement
Looks like a Vito, some hard interior plastics, only one (fairly expensive) model

Mercedes-Benz logo28 Mar 2011

By JAMES STANFORD

THERE aren’t many posters of people-movers on bedroom walls. Seems it’s hard to be practical and cool at the same time.

Some people have pimped-out Honda Odysseys with big rims and low-riding suspension, but it is an exception and most other people-mover owners simply accept their machines are not going to cause much excitement.

The new Viano has a new look, but it is still plain and practical from the outside, as you would expect of a passenger vehicle made out of a commercial van.

It is a different story on the inside, though, with lots of features to please occupants as well as an impressive list of luxury features that are standard and not just expensive options.

The feature most likely to impress the driver is the engine. A people-mover may not need an engine with this much performance, but I don’t think anyone will be complaining.

The 3.0-litre V6 turbo diesel is so strong from next to no revs that only a little tap on the accelerator is needed to surge away from the lights. Driving people around in a luxury shuttle like the Viano wouldn’t be too bad thanks to this powerplant.

The five-speed automatic is unremarkable, but the healthy diesel is strong enough to ensure the relatively small number of cogs is no issue.

There are lots of features to keep the driver and occupants happy and the new large screen in the middle of the dashboard that features the satellite navigation is a plus, though its location means the control buttons for a range of items including the sound system and climate control are located up high on the part of the dashboard curving towards the windscreen, so they are not within easy reach of the driver.

The interior generally has an upmarket look and feel, although some of the plastics are hard and not nice to touch. There is woodgrain and lots of leather, not just on the seats, but also on the doors and rear armrests.

All the seats are comfortable, having electric doors is a great feature and there are cup-holders everywhere, though not all are large enough for 600ml bottles.

The Viano might not look cool but has plenty of power and can actually be fun to drive, which is not something you expect from a people-mover.

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