CommercialFleet

Driven: Mercedes-Benz Vito 116CDi Sport Compact Dualiner

Review

If your fleet has the task of transporting important people about – and occasionally a few heavy loads as well – then the van on test here could well be the vehicle for the job.

The Vito has the Mercedes-Benz premium badge appeal and, as if that isn’t enough, the van is finished off with a set of snazzy alloy wheels and a silver metallic paint job.

Important people don’t generally appreciate being picked up in vans, so the Vito Dualiner also has smoked glass side windows to give it the appearance of a stylish minibus, with ample seating for five.

The downside is that you’ll be able to reclaim VAT only if the vehicle is used solely for business purposes. Any private mileage and it’s deemed to be a car.

But the great thing about the Dualiner is that the rear three seats can be removed, turning it into a van for everyday purposes.

Mind you, it takes the strength of Samson to get them out and even more to get them back in again.

Under the bonnet is a four-cylinder 2.2-litre turbo-diesel engine offering a meaty 163bhp and torque of 265lb-ft. This gives the van a top speed of close to 120mph and acceleration far in excess of any fleet’s usual requirements.

Meanwhile, fuel economy is 37.7mpg on the combined cycle, although this figure will be affected dramatically with a heavy right foot. CO2 emissions nudge in at just under 200g/km.

Payload is 895kg and with the seats up there is still a respectable 2.63 cubic metres of loadspace. Price including VAT is £26,395.

Behind the wheel

When you climb behind the wheel of a Mercedes-Benz LCV, things are a little different from the norm.

As you would expect from a manufacturer with its reputation, build quality is superb and just about everything has that built-to-last feel.

The Vito sits lower than rivals such as the Vauxhall Vivaro and Renault Trafic, so it feels as though you are driving a large car rather than a van.

The seats are typically German:­ hard as rock at first but supremely supportive and comfortable after 100 miles or so.

Some LCV manufacturers shy away from building high-output vehicles, but Mercedes-Benz is quite happy to churn out powerful vans such as this that will happily accelerate as quickly as the majority of cars.

You can also get lower-powered Vitos with 95bhp and we’d recommend these variants for everyday business use.

Even they feel fairly lively as maximum torque comes in right down at 1,600rpm.

Underway, the driving experience is marred slightly by a heavy clutch and a rather lumpy gearchange that means you can’t flick through the cogs very quickly.

The power steering is a tad on the light side, too, giving very little feel for what’s going on between the steering wheel and the road.
Having said that, I did get used to these little annoyances after a week behind the wheel.

They certainly weren’t bad enough to stop me from recommending this otherwise impressive vehicle.

Verdict

If style and build quality mean anything, then the Vito is a hands-down winner.

However, it’s a little heavy on fuel, especially when you compare it to the new Transit Custom Tourneo we tested recently, which offers 43.5 mpg on the combined cycle.

CO2 emissions and fuel consumption data correct at time of writing. The latest figures are available in the Fleet News fuel cost calculator and the company car tax calculator.