The Vito comes with a choice of two diesel engines. The cheaper option is a 1.6 litre affair - the same block found in the Renault Trafic. All vans equipped with this engine are front-wheel drive, and there are two levels of tune available offering either 88PS or 114PS. A more expensive 2.1 litre diesel engine is also available. All vans bearing this engine are rear-wheel drive, and there are three tuning levels available putting out 136PS, 163PS, or 190PS. All engines come with a six-speed manual gearbox as standard, but some configurations have the option of a 7G-Tronic automatic gearbox instead.
There are three different lengths of Vito available, and depending on which one you choose, you will benefit from between 5.5 and 6.6 cubic metres of loading space. Payload is dependent on both length and engine configuration but can be up to 1,369kg.
The current Vito model offers plenty of technology, both standard and optional. Load-adaptive stability control, hill-start assist, cross-wind assistance and anti-roll technology are all part of Vito vans produced from 2015 onwards. Vans that come with a trailer coupling also have stability control for trailers included as standard.
There is also the option to add a reversing camera with a special setting to aid with unassisted hook-up. Driver and passengers benefit from room for three people in the cockpit and features such as power steering, which is electric on the newest Vito and hydraulic on older models.
Positives and Negatives
The Mercedes-Benz Vito is certainly not a small van in the first place, but even for its size class loading space and payloads are decent. The range of options available in this department give plenty of scope to choose a van that suits your needs, with more load space available at an additional cost if it is needed.
The two engines are markedly different in how they perform, though both do a good job. The 1.6 litre unit provides a decent entry-level version of the van. It is not just the cheaper, inferior brother of the bigger engine, though, as it also serves as a highly capable smallish engine for urban use. It can grow a bit sluggish when the van is fully loaded, however. For regular heavy loading or for higher-speed driving outside of the city, the extra power of the 2.1 litre engine is a big improvement.
Suspension is good, steering and handling are great and levels of road noise are kept impressively low even at high speeds. However, other aspects of comfort are not so strong, and the cabin in particular is the weak point of the Vito. While the build quality of just about everything in the cabin is excellent, the design is not quite so strong. Passengers - especially anybody who occupies the middle seat - are faced with a distinct lack of leg room. There is also a definite shortage of in-cabin storage, and the absence of the “portable office” features which are now found in a number of this van's direct rivals may also be felt. There is also a foot-operated parking brake instead of a handbrake, which is, quite simply, a bit of a pain.
While the Mercedes-Benz Vito is not without its niggles, it is nonetheless an excellent and capable van. It drives much like a car - impressive in this size class - and offers a range of engine and body configurations for different purposes. Provided they choose the right configuration, of course, it will prove a truly excellent choice for a wide range of drivers and operators.