Advertisement
BBC TopGear
BBC TopGear
Subscribe to Top Gear magazine
Sign up to our Top Gear Magazine
Subscribe
Advertisement
It’s the Mercedes-Benz of vans, this thing. Seriously, that’s literally what it is

Good stuff

Uncannily comfortable, huge torque of top-spec engine

Bad stuff

Cabin might not be as Mercedes-ish as you were hoping

Overview

What is it?

The third generation of Mercedes Vito van. That makes this something of a baby in the commercial vehicle world – nameplates like the Ford Transit and VW Transporter have been around decades longer.

But you didn’t expect the inventor of the motor car to neglect the mid-sized van world, did you? That’s just what rivals were hoping. But the Vito has become a stalwart of the Benz workhorse range, sitting between the smaller Citan and gigantic Sprinter as the Goldilocks-sized offering. And even then, there are three sizes of Vito to choose from…

Advertisement - Page continues below

Don’t be confused by the likes of the Mercedes V-Class and the Marco Polo. They look the same as the Vito on the outside, but indoors, they’re totally different, with car-like dashboards and either minibus seating or the full home-from-home campervan experience. The Vito is a big empty box, designed to carry huge wads of stuff – up to 1,369kg of cargo capacity, in fact.

Just how big a box? That’s up to you. Like a Mercedes S-Class, the Vito demands you choose a length of vehicle. There’s the standard ‘L1’, a longer ‘L2’ with a stretched rear overhang, and then the ‘L3’ which has a longer wheelbase and threatens to put Boeing 747 air freight out of business. There’s no high-roof model, because Mercedes reasons if you need more space than the L3, you’ll just upgrade to a Sprinter.

There are three trim levels to get your head around: Pure comes as standard with plastic bumpers, steel wheels and free air in the load bay. Next up is Progressive, which adds automatic air-con and a much-needed rear-view parking camera. The top-spec is Premium, adding alloy wheels, metallic paint and electric door mirror folding.

Depending on trim, there’s a range of diesel engines, and a choice of either front or rear-wheel drive. Basically, if you just want a regular cost-efficient Vito, you’ll go for a 1.6-litre diesel and front-wheel drive. The brawnier 2.1-litre rear-drive versions are aimed at those needing mega haulage and maximum towing ability.

Advertisement - Page continues below

Being a Benz, you’re paying out more than you would if you went for a Ford Transit or Renault Trafic or Vauxhall Vivaro. Prices start at £27,515 (excluding VAT) and rise into the mid £30ks. So, besides the smugness of a three-pointed star on your steering wheel, is the Vito worth it?

Our choice from the range

What's the verdict?

An unfussy but somewhat classy device for shifting masses of stuff with ease

A Mercedes Vito costs, spec-for-spec, around £3,000 more than Britain’s favourite van, the Transit Custom. So, as a raw business case workhorse, it doesn’t add up. But then, if that was how the world worked, the most popular car in the UK would still be the Mondeo, and you’d have never heard of a Mercedes C-Class, let alone a CLA, GLA, or a Shooting Brake. There is image and badge appeal at play here. But there is, behind the dinner plate-sized three-pointed star, more to the Vito than simply a German air of superiority. 

The best thing about the Vito is its comfort. The ride and effortless punch of the larger diesel engine make it a genuinely soothing machine to command, and it’s strangely handsome for a panel van too. For keeping your business on the move with a touch of class and sophistication, it nails the brief, and feels a lot more Mercedes-ish doing so than the X-class pick-up. 

The Rivals

Subscribe to the Top Gear Newsletter

Get all the latest news, reviews and exclusives, direct to your inbox.

By clicking subscribe, you agree to receive news, promotions and offers by email from Top Gear and BBC Studios. Your information will be used in accordance with our privacy policy.

BBC TopGear

Try BBC Top Gear Magazine

subscribe