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Mercedes-Benz Vito

IN A CLASS OF ITS OWN? (some text hidden)

By Jonathan Crouch

If there can be such a thing as a workhorse with a pedigree, Mercedes' revitalised mid-sized Vito van is surely it, as Jonathan Crouch reports.

Ten Second Reviewword count: 100

The Mercedes Vito van has been revitalised by a mid-term update that's delivered the brand's latest OM 654-series 2.0-litre diesel engine and (for Vito Tourer bus operators) the option of all-electric power too. There's also a light visual update, improvements to safety kit and even a clever new digital rear view mirror option. As before, there's a choice of front or rear-driven drive configurations and very class-competitive load capacity and payload stats. As a result, Stuttgart's medium-sized LCV contender looks better equipped than ever to take the fight to an increasingly impressive array of Volkswagen Transporter and Vauxhall Vivaro-sized rivals.

Backgroundword count: 221

One of the things you learn early on in business is that the cheapest options aren't always the best ones. And that the way you deliver your goods says plenty about them. Both things explain the appeal of the Mercedes-Benz of medium range vans, this model, the Vito, which slots in just below the larger Sprinter model in the German brand's LCV range. Well over a million examples have been sold since its original launch in 1996 but in a tougher, more eco-conscious commercial market, this design now needs more than just badge and build quality to stave off competition from less prestigiously badged but arguably more complete rivals. Hence the improved Vito model we're looking at here, smarter, better to drive and crucially, less costly to run. All of which it will need to deliver if it is to be a credible alternative to tough rivals as diverse as the Renault Trafic / Nissan NV 300 / Fiat Talento design, the Peugeot Expert / Vauxhall Vivaro / Toyota Proace / Citroen Dispatch collaboration, the Volkswagen Transporter and of course the ubiquitous Ford Transit Custom. All these alternatives claim to match this Vito's all-round excellence for less money, but Mercedes reckons that it won't take operators very long behind the wheel to appreciate the difference that the Three-Pointed Star can make.

Driving Experienceword count: 317

The big news with this improved version of the third generation Vito range is the availability for van variants of the more advanced 'OM 654'-series 2.0-litre diesel engine familiar from the Mercedes passenger car range. Things kick off with a 110 CDI front driven variant, which uses this unit in 102hp guise. Most Vito buyers though, go for the mid-range 114 CDI 136hp model, which offers the choice of either front or rear wheel drive formats. Next up is the rear-driven 116 CDI model with 163hp. And at the top of the range, there's the 119 CDI rear-driven derivative, which offers 190hp and is paired with the 9-speed 9G-TRONIC auto transmission that's optional further down the range. The passenger-carrying Vito Tourer bus model can be had in full-electric eVito form, which uses a front-driven 150kW battery powertrain using a 90kWh battery with a driving range of up to 262 miles. The eVito Tourer can be charged from 10-80% in under 45 minutes at a rapid charging station. Across the Vito range, there's fresh camera safety technology. This includes Active Brake Assist autonomous braking and DISTRONIC with Active Distance Assist, which can be activated when driving on the motorway or in stop-and-go traffic and can maintain the distance to the vehicle travelling ahead as set by the driver. The system accelerates the vehicle by itself and brakes it with a maximum of half the vehicle's braking power in order to maintain a safe distance. Otherwise, things are much as before. Over bumps and around corners, the Vito's ride might be a slightly firmer than you're used to but it's an undeniably supple and well-controlled set-up that you'll quickly adapt to and appreciate. There's also the fact that, a little unusually in this class, most version of this van are rear-driven rather than front driven, meaning more rewarding handling than you might be expecting and a tighter turning circle.

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