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New models - Mercedes-Benz - Vito

Driven: Benz Vito van fronts up

Load lugger: The Mercedes-Benz Vito van is now on sale from $37,140, plus on-road costs, almost $2000 cheaper than before.

Safety features, new tech and engines lead the Mercedes-Benz Vito back to market

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Mercedes-Benz logo23 Jul 2015

By STUART MARTIN

MERCEDES-BENZ has introduced front-wheel drive to the Vito line-up for the first time, giving the third-generation van range a new entry level variant, as well as class-leading safety gear.

The van range – the result of €190 million ($A281m) of investment and upgrades to the Spanish production facility – will be made available in short- and long-wheelbase as well as front- and rear-wheel drive, while the crew-cab variant has one wheelbase and drive only going aft.

The starting price of the new van range drops slightly, with the entry level 111CDI short-wheelbase six-speed manual priced from $37,140 plus on-road costs, down from the previous kick-off price of $38,990, while an additional $3300 upgrades to the long-wheelbase version – an increase applicable across the range.

Stepping up to the more powerful 114BlueTec manual takes the price to $41,940, or the seven-speed auto-only 116BlueTec short-wheelbase van starts from $47,340 the top-spec 119BlueTec short wheelbase seven-speed auto is priced from $50,400.

Entry level Vito crew-cab buyers are facing price increases with the arrival of the more powerful engines with the 114BlueTec crew cab seven-speed automatic starting from $51,390 – up from the old 113CDI’s $48,990 price, but the 119BlueTec crew cab auto drops slightly to start from $57,190, falling below the $60,000 pricing of the outgoing model.

Mercedes-Benz Vans managing director Diane Tarr said the company was excited about the new broader offering in the Vito van range, adding that the total ownership package should help it maintain its strong market share.

“We'll never be the cheapest, not when we are setting the benchmark for safety, quality and features that we are bringing in as well,” she said. “It's not always about who's the cheapest product in the marketplace, it's about value and the total package.” Payloads range from 895kg to 1285kg (the latter an 11 per cent improvement) and cargo capacity starts at 3.6 cubic metres in the crew cab and tops out at 6.9 cubic metres in the long wheelbase van, with the option of barn doors (at a cost of $715) available for easier loading braked towing capacity is two tonnes across the board.

Benz says the front-wheel drive variants offer better traction when lightly-loaded, as well as being an entry level price-point leader, leaving the rear-wheel drive as the serious load-lugger, be it towing or carrying in the rear.

All three are 132mm longer than the outgoing Vito – due to pedestrian impact requirements – leaving lengths at 4895mm and 5140mm for the short- and mid- (3200mm) wheelbase, and 5370mm for the long- (3430mm) wheelbase variant height is just kept below the two-metre mark measured at 1910mm, plus roof rails of 48mm.

The front-driver is powered by a transversely mounted Euro 5-compliant 1.6-litre double overhead cam 16-valve direct injection four-cylinder diesel engine, propelling the 111CDI with 84kW and 270Nm thanks to a VNT turbocharger. It has official fuel economy of 6.2 litres per 100 kilometres (a 19 per cent improvement) and 163g/km of CO2 emissions (meeting the Euro 5b+ emission standard by way of exhaust gas recirculation, a diesel particulate filter and an oxidation catalytic converter).

The RWD variants come with a 2.2-litre common-rail BlueTec twin-turbo (one small, one large) four-cylinder engine shared with much of the Benz passenger car range, but in several power guises. The 114 variant produces 100kW and 330Nm, the 116 is endowed with 120kW and 380Nm and 119 flagship offers 140kW and 440Nm.

The larger twin-turbo engine injects AdBlue into exhaust gases to reduce oxides of nitrogen in exhaust gas, allowing the catalytic converter to complete the chemical change to water and nitrogen.

Six-speed manual transmissions are standard on the 111CDI and 114 BlueTec models, with the seven-speed auto available on the Vito 114 BlueTec crew cab and standard in both the 116 BlueTec and 119 BlueTec van models.

Standard equipment for all Vitos includes attention assist (a driver fatigue detection system) and crosswind assist, which uses the stability control system to counteract crosswinds.

In terms of standard safety fare, it does not stretch to a reversing camera (it's an extra $900) but does include the latest incarnation of electronic stability program (version 9i) as standard, which adds enhanced understeer control, automatic brake disc drying and emergency situation brake preparation to the existing stability, traction and rollover control functionality. If the new Vito is equipped to tow then Trailer Stability Assist (TSA) is also supplied.

The Vito panel van and crew cab models also feature airbags and a seatbelt reminder, with side airbags on the options list at $350 per side and curtain window bags an additional $790.

The new Vito may also be optionally equipped with active parking assist for $1230, or the collision prevent assist (which issues audible and visual warnings for a collision alert), blind-spot and lane-keeping assistance, as well as a rain sensor and leather-wrapped steering wheel within the $1600 driving assistance package, or $1300 without the collision warning system.

Also available as an option is the LED headlights with a total of 34 LEDs, which is part of the Intelligent Light System and is combined with Adaptive Highbeam Assist in a $1900 option pack.

Dynamic headlight range control changes the lighting pattern for country road, suburban streets or motorways. The active light function works with both the low-beam and main-beam functions and can pivot sideways by as much as 15 degrees.

An optional (at $900) reversing camera has guide-lines and a zoom function for tow hitch work, where the camera zooms in on the ball head of the trailer coupling and assists the driver when a trailer is attached.

Mercedes-Benz Vito pricing*
111CDI SWB$37,140
111CDI LWB$40,440
114BlueTEC SWB$41,940
114BlueTEC LWB$45,240
116BlueTEC SWB (a)$47,340
116BlueTEC LWB (a)$50,640
119BlueTEC SWB (a)$50,400
119BlueTEC LWB (a)$53,700
114BlueTEC Crew Cab (a)$51,390
119BlueTEC Crew Cab (a)$57,190
Valente BlueTEC (a)$56,380
*Excludes on-road costs

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