Mercedes-Benz Vans UK have recently revised the trim levels on their Vito van & crew range. The Vito sits in the hugely competitive medium van sector, which is about to get even tougher with the arrival of the new Vauxhall Vivaro. Ford’s Transit Custom is the runaway leader in the sector & it changed the way that customers perceived their vans, with far better safety tech, body options & connectivity on offer when it was launched. All of the competition followed suit, with most now offering top notch safety features, as well as Bluetooth phone connectivity, DAB radio & connected Apps for Apple CarPlay & Android Auto.
To ensure customers can clearly identify the right vehicle for their needs, the Vito range is now identified by three distinctive trim levels; PURE, PROGRESSIVE & PREMIUM, with all Vito models benefitting from a leather steering wheel & gear selector on manual models, comfort driver’s seat, automatic headlights & parking sensors.
The PURE level offers Audio 10 infotainment system, Active Parking Assist, parking sensors, heated & electrically adjustable exterior mirrors, an overhead control panel & heat-insulating glass as standard. This is available for the 109 CDI, 111 CDI and 114 CDI models.
In addition to this, the PROGRESSIVE level offers metallic paint, colour-coded front & rear bumpers, Audio 15 infotainment system, electrically folding exterior mirrors, front fog lamps, cruise control, full wheel trims & driver’s seat lumbar support. This trim level is available for all engines, except the top 119 CDI.
Top of there range PREMIUM level offers air-con, 17″ alloy wheels, a chrome radiator grille, reversing camera, anti-theft protection package with double lock, velour floor mats & pre-installation for Becker Map Pilot navigation. This is available for the 114 CDI, 116 CDI and 119 CDI engines.
The 114 CDI is available for all trim levels to ensure that an automatic gearbox and rear-wheel drive is an option for all Vito owners, should they so choose.
The Vito Tourer model retain’s its two ‘PRO’ and ‘SELECT’ trim lines, with the addition of a new ‘Sport’ trim. In addition, Vito lengths will be identified as L1, L2 & L3, replacing the former Compact, Long and Extra Long nomenclature List price for the Vito 114 CDI panel van L2 starts from £23,900 for the PURE, £25,570 for the PROGRESSIVE & £27,580 for the PREMIUM, all excluding VAT.
We had the opportunity to spend a week in the 114 CDI Premium L2 van, the most likely best seller, finished in a striking obsidian black.
The standout part of the Vito is the quality of the cabin, which is still class leading. The steering wheel in front of the driver contains the controls for the trip computer & Bluetooth, with the indicator/wiper stalk on the left as well as the cruise control lever. The ignition is also on the left & is slightly obscured by the cruise control stalk. Power steering is standard & the wheel is both rake & reach adjustable. The drivers seat also offers a myriad of adjustment, so getting comfortable was not a problem. The hand brake is located on the floor as it is in Mercedes cars. You push a ‘fourth’ pedal with your left foot to engage the brake & then pull a dash mounted lever to release. I found it straightforward to use, although some may not like it as it doesn’t help you with hill starts.
In common with most modern vans, the gear stick is raised & emerges from the dash board & this is mounted on a moulding which does stick outwards, making cross cabin movement slightly tricky. To the left of this is a deep locking glove box. The door pockets are handily large & there’s an overhead shelf & a stowage area within the passenger seat frame for further storage. In the centre of the dash & higher up than in some vans are the Audio 15 infotainment system & heating controls. The infotainment screen is slightly awkward to reach for the driver, as is the USB input which is also on the left of the dash. For left hand driven Vito, this location would make perfect sense. The front windows are electric & keeping the cabin quiet is a full width bulkhead.
Safety is foremost in the Vito with adaptive ESP, ABS, ASR, EBD as well as Brake Assist. Daytime running lights are standard & there is remote control locking. There’s also a drivers airbag & all three seat belts are three point with belt tensioners.
The cruise control is simple to activate & allowed me to spend a relaxed four hundred miles on the motorway. The cabin is particularly comfortable & definitely at the top end of van interiors, something you’ll be pleased with, if you spend a lot of time in your van. Around town, the Vito copes well in busy traffic, with the booklet in StopStart one of the best out there. E ven though my test van was a manual, the 6-speed gearbox & clutch combo are excellent.The 114CDI’s 2143cc engine, pull’s the Vito along nicely, with a useful 136hp & 380 Nms of torque on offer to the driver. The RWD featured on this model makes for smoother handling than in FWD van & creates a very car-like ambience for passengers when you’re out on the road. Claimed combined fuel economy is 42.8 mpg, although we averaged 36.7mpg in our 460 miles driven, with C02 emissions of 171g/km.
Despite the upgraded model line-up, the Vito is still missing a couple of things that other competitor’s vans offer & that I personally missed in my week driving it. There’s no DAB Radio nor connected Apps & if you’re used to both of these, they will be missed. Google Maps is better than almost all franchise SatNav offerings. Instead I made do with connecting my i Phone via Bluetooth, to access my music library & podcast’s. There’s no touchscreen either. You have to manually turn or push a button & scroll left or right to access the different driving & entertainment functions, which feels both outdated & slower than may offerings.
From a practical point of view, the L2 Vito we drove comes with left & right hand slide-opening side doors & twin rear doors that open 180 degrees. The L2 is 5140mm long x 2249mm wide x 1910mm high. The floor load length is 2831mm, the load space width 1685mm, ( 1270mm between the wheel arches ), highest roof height is 1391mm & payload volume is 6000 litres.
With the competition hotting up, the Vito is starting to show it’s age. When compared to the Ford Transit Custom & PSA Group’s Citroen Dispatch, Peugeot Expert, Toyota Proace & soon to arrive Vauxhall Vivaro, the interior feel’s particularly dated. These models are more modern inside & offer better connected tech, cleverer storage solutions, such as the Moduwork bulkhead on the Expert, that allows the twin passenger seat to be flipped &/or folded for longer load lengths & in some case’s, a wider choice of model variants – the Vito is only available in one height – Having said that, the Vito still offer’s the highest quality cabin in the sector, one of the smoothest, quietest engines you can drive in nay van & a wonderful manual gear box, that makes driving the Vito incredibly relaxing.
The current Vito, is entering the twilight of it’s life-cycle. There are newer, cleverer, better connected medium panel vans out there. Having driven the latest Mercedes Benz Sprinter, which comes equipped with all of the latest tech & connectivity, I’m sure that the next Vito will follow suit. In the meantime, the current model is still worth considering not least as it’s the best built & nicest to drive van in the sector.