Mercedes-Benz Vito such great Sport
11:30 22 May 2013
Is it a van? Is it a car? Mercedes-Benz’s Vito Sport Dualiner offers the best of both worlds in a practical stylish package, says motoring editor Andy Russell.
Mercedes-Benz Vito Sport
Price: 116 CDI Dualiner Long, £26,110 plus VAT
Engine: 2,143cc, 163hp, four-cylinder turbo diesel
Performance: 0-60mph 11.5 seconds; top speed 119mph
MPG: Urban 31; extra urban 44.1; combined 38.2
Warranty: Three years, unlimited mileage
Dimensions: Length 5,008mm; width (including door mirrors) 2,253mm; height 1,902mm
It’s 30 years since i first drove a Mercedes-Benz van and, despite a quarter of a million miles on the clock, it made huge impression because it still drove so well.
Three decades later the German giant’s commercial vehicles still never fail to impress me with their car-like qualities, comfort, kit and driving dynamics – with certain models blurring the boundaries between van and car.
One is the Vito Sport Dualiner passenger van which, despite being a commercial vehicle, could double up as transport for sporty types and active, outdoor families.
Finished in magma red set off by 17in alloy wheels and chrome brightwork the Vito Sport Dualiner – it is also offered as a panel van – I tried looked the business before I even drove it, and didn’t disappoint when I did.
The 116 CDI uses the 163hp version of the four-cylinder 2,143cc turbo diesel, a mainstay of Mercedes passenger cars. The 122 CDI gets a 224hp 3.0-litre V6 turbo diesel automatic which is the only option in the even more stylish Sport-X.
The 116 CDI with its standard six-speed manual gearbox is up to the job with strong low-down flexibility and surprisingly punchy mid-range performance yet easily returns 36-40mpg in real-world driving.
With its new suspension tuning, traction control and adaptive electronic stability control the Vito Sport is competent and comfortable to drive with an agility that belies it’s size and well-weighted steering feel – it’s easy to forget it’s a van.
The ride is good enough to worry some big cars when it comes to soaking up poor roads with none of the end-to-end pitching that afflicts some long vans on undulating roads.
Shapely, supportive seats add to the comfort factor – a must for van drivers covering huge distances week in, week out. I once questioned a Mercedes designer about its firm seats, only for him to respond “We know what is good for you.”
In long panel van mode you get a 3.76 square metre cargo area and a 5.7 cubic metre volume but if you want the best of both worlds when it comes to carrying passengers and loads the long version of the Dualiner also measures up at 2.29 square metres and 3.5 cubic metres.
So if your hobby or pastime involves lugging around the likes of camping equipment, bikes, jet skis, surf boards or windsurfers the Vito Sport is an interesting alternative lifestyle vehicle and with a load bay 1,264mm high you could even use it as a changing area if you need to get kitted out.
Passengers won’t complain in the three rear seats with individual backs that recline or fold flat. The 60/40 split seat base units flip upright to increase load space while a large sliding door each side makes getting in and out easy and dark tinted windows give an element of privacy. And if you want to keep passengers and loads apart a bulkhead with a wide window is optional.
While the passenger area is comfortable and the fascia clear and car-like, it retains the practicality of a van with a strong, durable floor covering that wipes clean.
The Vito Sport comes with air-conditioning, cruise control with speed limiter, Bluetooth, aux socket, colour-coded bumpers, floor mats, multi-function steering wheel and electric front windows and heated mirrors.
Orwell Truck and Van is offering the Mercedes-Benz Vito 116 CDI Dualiner Sport with weekly payments starting at £59 with similar deals on the panel van. Visit it at stand 616 at the Suffolk Show on Wednesday, May 29 and Thursday, May 30 to see the full range of Mercedes-Benz Citan, Vito and Sprinter vans and trucks or log on to www.orwelltruckandvan.co.uk