Mercedes-Benz has just come out with a new version of its popular Vito 114 van, and Damien O’Carroll has taken it on a video test drive.
On the road, the Vito proved to be wonderfully relaxing to drive – not something traditionally associated with vans – with nicely weighted and brilliantly responsive steering, and a smooth, powerful diesel engine that, in this LWB Vito, was hooked up to Mercedes’ most excellent seven-speed automatic transmission. It even had paddle shifters on the steering wheel, which is something I personally have never experienced in a van before.
Some of the other options fitted to our test vehicle were not really things you expected to see in a van either –such as dash-mounted rear parking sensor proximity displays and Mercedes’ park-assist system that scans for and then guides the van into a parking space, either parallel or perpendicular. Unlike most park assist systems in sedans, this is something we would consider extremely useful in a van, where visibility is usually a problem.
Except, visibility isn’t really an issue in the Vito, particularly when fitted with the optional backing camera. The camera is set low and faces lower than you would expect, but when used with the mirrors virtually eliminates any blind spots and makes the Vito an absolute joy to maneuver in reverse.
The Vito can also be optioned up with a wide range of Mercedes’ safety tech, including an intelligent LED headlight system, collision prevention assist, blind spot assist and lane keep assist, while attention assist, crosswind assist and hill hold assist come standard.
The combination of the Vito’s traditional van features (mainly heaps of usable space) and its incredibly impressive drivability and comfort truly make it a standout in the van segment. Add to this the good levels of standard equipment and the availability of driver assists options plus fuel efficiency technologies not normally associated with vans and the Vito becomes a proposition that would be very hard to go past.
For more information go to www.mercedes-benz.co.nz