Described as a van that doesn’t just fulfil the tasks it’s set but also acts as your business card and offers flexibility, safety, economic efficiency and quality. That’s what Mercedes-Benz say about the new Vito Tourer, so when the opportunity presented itself to put it to the test, we jumped at the chance, as Van Ireland’s David Stokes reports.
Courtesy of Mercedes-Benz Truck & Van (NI) in Mallusk, we were given a few days to spend behind the wheel of a Vito Tourer 114BlueTec, so we managed to clock up quite a few miles on the roads across Northern Ireland.
According to the manufacturer, the Vito Tourer brings to the road “the ultimate in versatility, comfort and dependable Mercedes-Benz quality.” We can’t argue with that statement. It is an impressive people carrier ideal for a variety of applications.
A luxury, upmarket taxi operation immediately comes to mind, but the Vito Tourer is also well suited to act as a ‘works’ vehicle, transporting hard grafting crew in style and comfort from job to job, or even shuttling guests to and from business functions.
Its range of configurations offers spacious seating for two to nine passengers; our test model could easily fit in seven passengers, plus the driver, and while it was a lot bigger than your average top of the range saloon car, it performed just as admirably as such.
With electromechanical power steering and a 6-speed manual transmission as standard, the Vito Tourer offers a smooth ride in both town and country, while the electrically adjustable, heated exterior mirrors make life more convenient for the driver – and heat-insulating windows all round and practical stowage spaces in the side wall panelling enhance the comfort of everyone in the passenger compartment. Even the gear stick is conveniently located so that it does not hinder free movement between seats up front.
Getting your passengers in and out of the Vito is easy, too, thanks to wide opening sliding doors on both sides and large expansive windows running the length of the van means back seat passengers won’t feel claustrophobic.
Incidentally, the adaptable seating means that it can also be transformed into a 5-seater, 4-seater or 2-seater. This flexibility is the result of the seat mounts in the passenger compartment with their quick-release attachment system. If you have bulky items to transport, the seat benches can be removed, transforming the passenger compartment into a spacious load compartment in next to no time.
As a driver, responsibility for passenger safety weighs heavily on one’s shoulders, but there should be little concern in the Vito Tourer which bristles with pioneering safety systems such Crosswind Assist, which helps prevent lateral drift from gusting crosswinds; Lane Keeping Assist that can help to avoid accidents resulting from the vehicle unintentionally leaving its lane; and Blind Spot Assist that helps prevent accidents when changing lane, for example, on motorways.
Mercedes-Benz, too, also sets a good example when it comes to protecting all of the vehicle occupants – with six airbags as standard, including window bags and thorax/pelvis side bags for the driver and co-driver. Then there’s the LED Intelligent Light System which adapts the lights variably to the light, road and weather conditions.
The instrument panels are logically arranged and easily read and keep the driver fully informed of what is happening throughout the journey; while engine and road noise are kept to a minimum to further enhance driver and passenger comfort.
Smooth gear changing, responsive steering, excellent road holding and handling, and great all round visibility (further enhanced by large electrically adjustable and heated door mounted mirrors) combine to provide a really enjoyable on the road experience.
While we didn’t put it through a fuel test, we can quite believe the BlueEFFICIENCY package that comes with the 144 BlueTec – powered by a 2.1 litre 136hp diesel engine – would deliver some pleasantly surprising figures. (Indeed, we are reliability informed that figures of around 43 mpg would not be out of the question, depending, of course, on some variables)
Thanks to its solid quality and improved ease of repair, the Vito Tourer has the edge when it comes to repair costs, too. And long service intervals of up to 24,000 miles reduce maintenance costs.