One of the highlights of my career as editor of Fleet Van occurred back in 2005 when I tested the outrageously powerful Mercedes-Benz Vito 123 for a week.
It didn’t look very special from the outside but under the bonnet lurked a monster 3.2-litre V6 petrol powerplant that would show a clean pair of heels to most sports cars on the road.
I did suggest at the time that this particular model was not about to set the van fleet sales charts alight and, indeed, if I was truthful I’d have to say I was rather relieved when it went back, as I seriously doubt that I’d have kept my driving licence very long behind the wheel of such a speed-mobile.
Things have moved on since then.
The strictly limited edition 123 is sadly no more and Mercedes-Benz now offers a rather toned down set of sporty vans to reflect more modern thinking on topics such as road safety and noxious emissions.
You can still opt for a range-topping Vito Sport X, which now boasts a 3.0-litre diesel powerplant with 204bhp and masses of extra bits of alloy, chrome and leather, or there’s a 115 Sport with 150bhp and a 120 Sport with 205bhp.
But what about the buyer who wants a bit of bling but not the extra zing?
Enter the vehicle on test here which has alloy wheels, chrome side steps and other natty accoutrements but still has the standard 95bhp diesel powerplant under its bonnet.
True sport van fans may scoff but the model has been launched because this type of van is exactly what aspirational fleet buyers have been asking Mercedes-Benz for.
The fact is that many fleets have now begun realising that vans make an important statement about the company whose logo is on the side and a vehicle like this portrays a smart image without glugging down fuel at a rate of knots.
Now the Vito 109 Sport begins to make sense.
Included in the price are 16-inch seven hole alloys, traction control (standard on all Vitos), colour-coded bumpers and side trim, chrome steel bars and side steps, a chrome front grille and special red, white or blue paintwork.