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Viano anointed Benz’s new star people-mover

Vantastic: Mercedes will charge the Viano with picking up the slack after its axing of the R-Class earlier this year.

Mercedes-Benz R-Class loss opens up Viano’s doors of opportunity

26 Aug 2013

THE only people-mover counted among Mercedes-Benz’s passenger car line-up is about to get a facelift to help fill the void left after the loss of the R-Class.

The German luxury car-maker has axed the slow-selling, $90,000-plus R-Class from Australian showrooms, leaving a big hole in the high-priced, richly equipped luxury people-mover end of the Australian market.

Diane Tarr, the general manager of Mercedes-Benz Vans in Australia, said the car-maker was about to launch a limited edition of its Viano commercial van-based people-mover that would help it fill the important niche gap in the showroom.

In time, she said, the limited-edition Viano would become the baseline for a facelifted version of the van.

“We are about to launch a limited edition, a special edition that has additional specifications built into the Viano that will become standard,” she said at a meeting in Sydney last week with Klaus Maier, the global sales and marketing head of Mercedes-Benz’s van division.

“It’s more of a chrome pack, a new grille, a little bit more aggressive looks in terms of styling.”

Unlike the other two people-movers in the Benz-badged line-up – the Vito and Valente – the Viano is marketed as a passenger car and not a commercial vehicle.

The first of the Viano Grand Edition Ambientes are just starting to trickle into Australian showrooms now, priced from $81,940 – setting it $2950 higher than the already richly equipped entry-level Viano.

However, the limited edition builds on that list. As well as 19-inch wheels replacing the stock 17s, the styling tweaks include chrome highlights around a blacked-out grille, a sports suspension, different leather upholstery and a walnut burl trim around the cabin.

According to Ms Tarr, Mercedes-Benz now had a well-rounded people-mover line-up.

“Viano has always sat in the luxury part of the people-mover segment, above that $65,000 bracket” Ms Tarr said.

“What we have done in the past is in your $65,000 class bracket, we didn’t have a presence there at all.

“We had a very low-base Vito wagon that really sits in a very commercial application ... and is very basic as well.

“With the (Vito-based) Valente we wanted to create a non-luxury position in that space and to be able to say it is for the family, but not for the luxury end,” she said.

“So it’s been really great to slot a product in there where we really didn’t have a presence before.”Mercedes-Benz Viano pricing*
3.0 CDI BlueEfficiency (a)$78,990
3.0 CDI BlueEfficiency Grand Edition Avantgarde (a)$81,940
*Excludes on-road costs.

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