Testing time for Mercedes-Benz vans loads of fun

Mercedes-Benz Van Experience

Mercedes-Benz Van Experience - Credit: Andy Russell

Mercedes-Benz Van Experience is a chance to push its vans to the limit with impressive results, says motoring editor Andy Russell.

The Mercedes-Benz Vito van was hurtling closer and closer to the obstacle at 55mph when the instructor coolly took his feet off the pedals and threw the steering wheel to the right.

The van slewed past the bollards, leaning heavily before the snaking came under control and it continued on its way at the Prodrive proving ground at Kenilworth in Warwickshire.

This was the Mercedes-Benz Van Experience, now in its 10th year and the biggest and best yet, and a dramatic way to show the Bosch electronic stability program in action. It's something you hope will never happen on the road but it's good to know it works if needed!

Mercedes-Benz Van Experience hosted nearly 2,000 suppliers, fleet operators and owners over 10 days to put more than 180 Citans, Vitos, Sprinters and Sprinter 4x4s through their paces, showing just what they can do.

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It also gave guests the chance to the see the new Sprinter panel van in the exhibition area ahead of its launch next month.

I was lucky enough to go with Orwell Truck and Van, which has sites at Ipswich, Norwich, Colchester and Newmarket, and takes both current and prospective customers to Mercedes-Benz Van Experience to demonstrate the benefits of buying the brand.

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Kevin Ferris, Mercedes-Benz vans marketing manager, said: 'It is one of our best investments marketing-wise and just gets better every year.'

He explained how big fleet buyers mingled with tradespeople, who drive the vans every day, so there was an exchange of views and perspectives between them too.

As well as the stability control test, guests also attended other modules to highlight the benefits of Mercedes-Benz vans and highlight how to run their vans most efficiently, economically and safely.

'This is your Life' gave drivers the chance to test the anti-lock braking and electronic stability program of Mercedes-Benz vans on low-grip surfaces against rivals. Continental Tyres, a partner of Mercedes since 1901 and fitted to so many of its vans, also explained the latest EU tyre labels, the difference between car and van tyres and how running tyres a few pounds of pressure down can cost pounds in higher fuel consumption.

'Fuel for Thought' was an economy run of two laps of the 1.8-mile test track in Citans, Vitos and Sprinters. I achieved 68.6mpg in a Vito compared to the claimed 39.8mpg official extra urban figure.

The 'Traction Control' module saw us get to grips with off-road driving in Sprinter 4x4s with impressive results.

When you drive tens of thousands of miles a year in a van you need to know it is up to the job – Mercedes-Benz Van Experience is the way to push them to the limit and find out how well they can do the business.

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