The?new Mercedes-Benz Vito has one item that sets it apart from all the other light panel vans on the road – a three-pointed star on the bonnet.
I get the distinct impression that even if this van was not a good one, it would still sell well, such is the cachet of the German badge.
Of course, this van IS a good one – a superb one in fact – and a three-week stint with a test model in 109CDI guise brought this fact home fully.
Where do I start with the praise?
In my eye, the new Vito is the best looking van in the sector, beating even the graceful lines of the Renault Trafic, Vauxhall Vivaro and Nissan Primastar triplets.
Its common rail diesel engine is powerful yet smooth, its cab is big, stylish and comfortable, its load area is large and its handling is impeccable.
Add to that a standard six-speed gearbox, CD player, ABS brakes and ESP traction control system and you have a seriously heavyweight contender in this lightweight sector.
The new Vito comes with two wheelbases and three vehicle lengths, along with standard and high roofs.
This translates to load volumes of between 4.65 and 6.49 cubic metres.
All models are available with gross vehicle weights of either 2,770 or 2,940kg and payloads range from 930 to 1,100kg depending on the tyres chosen.
Vans have the option of a tailgate or conventional twin doors, which can either open to 180 degrees or 270 degrees.
The sliding doors are big enough for standard Euro pallets to be loaded and the width between wheelarches – 1,277mm – allows up to three Euro pallets to be loaded one behind another.
Under the bonnet, the new Vito is powered by a choice of three diesel engines.
All 2,148cc four cylinder common rail units, they offer power of 88, 109 and 150bhp and torque of 162, 199 and 243 lb-ft.
The model on test here is the short wheelbase 88bhp version and although it is the ‘baby’ of the range, there is no shortage of pulling power.
This is likely to be the fleet choice and those operators worried about lack of power can set their minds at rest – it is ample and quite adequate.
The £12,995 ex-VAT price is a competitive one indeed.
The base Vauxhall Vivaro comes in at £12,710 but it only has five gears to the Vito’s six, 82bhp to the Vito’s 88bhp and it doesn’t have the ESP system.
It does, however, offer five cubic metres of loadspace to the Vito’s 4.65 cubic metres.