The Mercedes Vito is a light van available as a standard panel van for cargo transportation or as a passenger vehicle. It came to market in 1996. The first generation remained in production until 2003 when it underwent some cosmetic restyling and received a new range of engines to suit its revised rear-wheel drive format.
Medium-size transporters and people carriers tend to be focused on space, but the Mercedes Vito comes complete with plenty of good looks and charm. Its attractive styling is head and shoulders ahead of most of its competition, while it is also intelligently designed with safety in mind. Its pronounced nose is not just easy on the eye; it also creates a discernable barrier between driver and point of impact in the event of a head-on collision. Safety in general features highly on the Vito; its body is designed for maximum stability in the drive and minimum damage on impacts.
The first-generation Vitos come with a modest diesel engine capable of giving 89kW of power or a 2.8L VR6 petrol giving 104kW.
Second-generation models give a little more power with 4 different diesels t choose from, one V6 and 3 versions of a 2.2L 4-cylinder turbodiesel. The entry-level model is the short-wheelbase 110CDI, with a 2.2L turbo diesel that gives 70kW of power and 250Nm of torque, resulting in an impressive combined fuel consumption of just 7.7L/100km. Next up is the mid-range 113, with 100kW of power and 310Nm of torque and its big brother, the 116, with 120kW of power and 350Nm of torque, both delivering an even healthier 7.4L/100km. At the top of the range sits the 3.0L V6 diesel 122 model, which gives an impressive 165kW and 440Nm of torque. Fuel consumption is a little higher as you would expect, at 8.6L/100km, but depending on what you are looking for from your van, this is generally offset by the extra it delivers in performance.
Newer Vitos benefit from 6-speed manual transmission as standard with an optional 5-speed automatic alternative. Second-generation models also feature a stop-start system, which switches the engine off to save energy when the van is at a standstill, improving fuel economy by up to 15 per cent according to Mercedes.
Given that the Vito is essentially a transporter van and people carrier, it is more comfortable and better kitted out than much of the competition whilst still being durable and functional. Newer generation models feature a revised central stack with plenty of functions along with steering-wheel controls and Bluetooth phone connectivity. Safety is a key feature for the Vito, with ABS (anti-lock braking system), ESB (electronic stability control), driver and passenger airbags, 3-point seatbelts all round (including passenger seats of the Vito Wagon models), and flashing brake lights included as standard. The 9-seater (8 with an optional 9th) wagon comes with curtain airbags as standard, earning it a five-star ANCAP rating, while the commercial models, with optional curtain airbags, rate at four stars.
Other features that are fitted as standard across the range are air-conditioning, remote locking, dual sliding doors, adjustable steering wheel, electric heated mirrors, and 16-inch alloys, while cruise control is fitted to all models except the entry-level 110.
There is a fair choice of options on the Vito, including the Mercedes COMAND system, which integrates the sound and satnav systems, and additional functions to the steering wheel, which combine both along with the phone system. Seat options are varied, with heating on offer along with a range of finishes including leather and commercial vehicles come with the option of a protection grille fitted behind the driver’s seat. These are also fitted with plenty of hook points as standard to keep cargo securely in place during transit.
Further options to the exterior include 180-degree opening rear doors, electric tilting/sunroof, parking assistance system, and headlight washers.
The Mercedes Vito is a fine-looking combination of design and engineering and stands ahead of many of the competition in the commercial transporter van/people carrier bracket. Depending on the size and use you require, an alternative option from the Mercedes camp would be the Sprinter model, while the VW Caravelle is a popular option as a people transporter.