Mercedes-Benz Vito van (2004)

30 Apr 2015 | Author: | Comments Off on Mercedes-Benz Vito van (2004)
Mercedes-Benz Vito

Mercedes-Benz Vito

van (2004) (October 2004)

BOTTOM LINE: Who do we have to kill to get one?

Model tested: Mercedes-Benz Vito 115CDI van

RRP: $43,690

Price as tested: $43,690 (auto)

Road tester: Mike Sinclair

Date tested: July 2004

The song says all Australian boys need a shed. For a growing group of Aussie boys you can substitute ‘shed’ with the word ‘van.’ And it’s not just those good with their hands. Indeed as well as the plumbers, chippies and sparkies of Australia, there’s a fair swag of blokes out there into motorcycles, karts or just carting their bed with ’em that are making vans their choice of wheels.

Mind you, vans have come a way since the long-haired set went around carving heart-shaped rear windows into Bedford CF series in the late 1970s. Mercedes’ top-selling Vito series is a case in point.

The choice of discerning van buyers since it was originally introduced Down Under in the early ’90s, the Vito recently received major update surgery. The latest Vito features sedan-like levels of safety aids and a choice of powertrains that spans from a six-speed manual 65kW diesel, through to a near 140kW (200hp) Geartronic five-speed auto V6 petrol.

With the choice of several body styles, wheelbases and roof heights there is little wonder guys are voting with their accountants’ blessings and their chequebooks. Can you spell FBT?

And getting a leg-up from the treasurer is just part of the story. What really impresses is the Vito’s great ’round town manners and civility. Add in serious load lugging abilities (1110kg and 6.49-cubic metres), plenty of tiedown opportunities and you end up what is undoubtedly the van of vans.

Our Vito, a $43,690 autobox 110kW turbodiesel 115CDi Compact (the shortest body offered) was close to bog stock — a red two-seater Mercedes with a difference. In terms of safety equipment it was well armed, however, boasting ESP and ASR (Electronic Stability Program and Anti-Slip Control), ABS (Anti-lock Brakes), EBD (Electronic brake force distribution) and a driver’s airbag.

Aircon is standard on the CDi, as are front power windows, remote central locking and an in-dash CD. There is even an outside temperature gauge. Incongruously, external mirrors are manually operated — least if they are not we couldn’t find the electric adjustment. We don’t have the room to reproduce the full Vito options list but key tick boxes include: metallic paint, colour coded bumpers, alarm, cruise control, alloy rims, load anchoring system.

Oh, and heated electric mirrors.

The 115’s 2.1lt common rail oiler provided strong mid-range and good performance once moving but was a little reluctant to build boost from a standing start. When the power did arrive it was with a surge of torque that had the ASR warning light blinking when the load was light and especially when the road was damp.

Even without any liner, noise levels were commendable. And my Coke-machine servicing mate reports the standard seats offer all-day comfort without heavy bolstering that makes jumping in and out a pain.

Getting the idea we like the Vito? Much of the reason it rates so well in terms of civility is its other role — as the basis for Mercedes’ V Class people movers and Viano MPV. The choice of hotel shuttle bus buyers and productive Burgers across Euro, the rear-wheel drive V Class wagon reputedly delivers levels of comfort approaching purpose-built minivans, such as the Renault Espace, Chrysler Voyager and Ford/Volkswagen’s Galaxy/Sharan.

We’ll have to wait until later in 2005 to see the fully-kitted Vito and Viano Down Under however, Benz does already offer a ‘Crewcab’ variant of the Vito. This variant provides seating for six, wooden flooring, ceiling liner and windows between the B and C-pillar, as well as a windowed tailgate, at an approx $3500 premium over the standard van.

Published. Friday, 1 October 2004

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