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Mercedes-Benz Vito 2023 review: 116 CDI MWB Van - GVM test

The Vito looks a cut above the usual whitegoods-on-wheels appearance of commercial vans. (Image: Mark Oastler)

Daily driver score

4/5

Tradies score

4/5

The Mercedes-Benz Vito van competes with 10 rivals in Australia’s mid-size (2.5-3.5-tonne GVM) commercial van market.

Compared to Toyota’s dominant HiAce, which commands around 35 per cent of sales in this segment, the significantly more expensive Vito’s 4.0 per cent market share pales by comparison.

So, we recently put the three-pointed star’s MY23 contender to work for a week to ponder if its prestige pricing is justified.

Price and Features – Does it represent good value for the price? What features does it come with?

Our Vito test vehicle is the 116 CDI MWB (Medium Wheel Base) Van, which with 2.0-litre four-cylinder turbo-diesel engine, nine-speed automatic transmission and rear-wheel drive has a list price of $63,278, plus on-road costs.

Our example is fitted with the optional 'Cargo Package' ($2244) which comprises a twin-passenger ‘Comfort’ front bench seat and cargo bay enhancements including a rear LED interior light, full-width bulkhead with window (which separates cabin and cargo bay) and robust wood flooring.

It’s also finished in optional 'Obsidian Black' metallic paint ($1704) which together with the Cargo Package bumps the as-tested list price to $69,701.

The 116 CDI MWB (Medium Wheel Base) Van has a list price of $65,753, plus on-road costs. (Image: Mark Oastler) The 116 CDI MWB (Medium Wheel Base) Van has a list price of $65,753, plus on-road costs. (Image: Mark Oastler)

Standard equipment includes niceties like 17-inch alloy wheels with 225/55 R17 tyres and a full-size steel spare, front and rear parking sensors, a reversing camera, tinted windows, leather-wrapped and height/reach-adjustable steering wheel with multiple remote functions, along with a driver’s seat comfort pack with adjustable lumbar support and adjustable base-cushion length which can be extended so it sits right under your knees. Great on long drives.

There’s also a chrome grille and interior highlights package, all-season floor mats, two USB ports and a 12-volt accessory outlet plus a multimedia system with 7.0-inch touchscreen, digital radio and multiple connectivity options including Apple and Android devices, voice-command and more.

  • Standard equipment includes niceties like 17-inch alloy wheels with 225/55 R17 tyres. (Image: Mark Oastler) Standard equipment includes niceties like 17-inch alloy wheels with 225/55 R17 tyres. (Image: Mark Oastler)
  • The optional 'Obsidian Black' metallic paint adds $1704 to the price tag. (Image: Mark Oastler) The optional 'Obsidian Black' metallic paint adds $1704 to the price tag. (Image: Mark Oastler)
  • The Vito features a 7.0-inch touchscreen as well as digital radio. (Image: Mark Oastler) The Vito features a 7.0-inch touchscreen as well as digital radio. (Image: Mark Oastler)
  • The Vito features a multimedia system with multiple connectivity options including Apple and Android devices. (Image: Mark Oastler) The Vito features a multimedia system with multiple connectivity options including Apple and Android devices. (Image: Mark Oastler)

Design – is there anything interesting about its design?

Our test vehicle rides on a 3200m wheelbase, which is the shorter of two available, resulting in an overall vehicle length of more than 5.0 metres (5140mm) and a tight 11.1-metre turning circle. Its 1915mm height ensures access to underground and multi-storey carparks.

It looks a cut above the usual whitegoods-on-wheels appearance of commercial vans with its alloy wheels, chrome grille highlights and black metallic paint including the front and rear bumpers. It has MacPherson strut front suspension, semi-trailing arm coil-spring rear suspension (which is excellent under heavy loads) and four-wheel disc brakes.

The 116 CDI MWB Van has an overall vehicle length of more than 5.0 metres (5140mm). (Image: Mark Oastler) The 116 CDI MWB Van has an overall vehicle length of more than 5.0 metres (5140mm). (Image: Mark Oastler)

Although the driver’s bucket seat offers multiple adjustments, the separate bench seat for two passengers has none, but it does include a separate headrest and lap-sash belt for the centre passenger. All are trimmed in black 'Caluma' fabric.

However, if you’re tall with large feet like me, you’ll struggle to find a comfortable position in the centre seat. Given that its base cushion is offset to the left of the floor’s transmission hump, you can’t sit with feet either side of the hump.

The only choices are to squeeze both feet on top of the hump between dash and seat (not enough room for my size-11 Blundstones) or angle both legs across to the left with your feet on the passenger floor and knees pressing into the dash. Either way, travelling three-up is for short trips only, with the smallest crew-member preferably in the middle.

Practicality – How practical is its space and tech inside?

With its relatively light 1967kg kerb weight (a HiAce equivalent tops 2200kg) and 3050kg GVM, our test vehicle has a 1083kg payload rating, so it’s a genuine one-tonner. And up to 150kg of that can be carried on the roof, where you’ll find four pairs of mounting points along each side of the roof ready for rack-mounting.

It’s also rated to tow up to 2500kg of braked trailer and with its 5550kg GCM (or how much it can legally carry and tow at the same time) it’s rated to tow its maximum trailer weight while carrying its maximum payload. That’s an impressive and useful set of numbers.

The cargo bay, which offers a competitive 6.0 cubic metres of load volume, is accessed by sliding doors on each side with 822mm opening width (although the top half of the cabin bulkhead encroaches on this) and a swing-up tailgate which restricts forklift access for rear loading (a twin barn-door option is available).

  • There are numerous personal storage places in the Vito's cabin. (Image: Mark Oastler) There are numerous personal storage places in the Vito's cabin. (Image: Mark Oastler)
  • The Vito features large bottle-holders and bins in the base of each door. (Image: Mark Oastler) The Vito features large bottle-holders and bins in the base of each door. (Image: Mark Oastler)

The walls and doors of the cargo bay are lined and its wooden load floor is 2678mm long and 1709mm wide with 1270mm between the rear-wheel housings. So, it could carry two 1165mm-square standard Aussie pallets or up to three 800 x 1200mm Euro pallets, secured using your choice of eight load-anchorage points. There’s also a large storage area at the base of the bulkhead which is ideal for carrying ropes, straps, load-padding etc.

There are numerous personal storage places in the cabin, including large bottle-holders and bins in the base of each door plus a second-tier at mid-height for smaller items. There are also three bins and two cupholders in the top of the dash-pad plus an overhead glasses holder, decent-sized glove box and a sizeable storage compartment hidden beneath the outer passenger seat.

The cargo bay offers a competitive 6.0 cubic metres of load volume. (Image: Mark Oastler) The cargo bay offers a competitive 6.0 cubic metres of load volume. (Image: Mark Oastler)

Under the bonnet – what are the key stats for its engine and transmission?

The refined and efficient 'OM654' is a 2.0-litre four-cylinder intercooled turbo-diesel which meets the toughest Euro 6 emissions standards using AdBlue. It produces 120kW at 4200rpm and its 380Nm is served at full strength across a broad torque band between 1350-2400rpm, which highlights its flexibility.

The '9G-Tronic' nine-speed torque converter automatic offers fast and smooth shifting and there are four switchable driving modes comprising 'Eco', 'Comfort', 'Sport' or 'Manual', the latter using steering wheel-mounted paddle-shifters.

Under the Vito's bonnet is a 2.0-litre four-cylinder intercooled turbo-diesel engine. (Image: Mark Oastler) Under the Vito's bonnet is a 2.0-litre four-cylinder intercooled turbo-diesel engine. (Image: Mark Oastler)

Efficiency – What is its fuel consumption? What is its driving range?

Mercedes-Benz claims an official combined cycle figure of 6.8L/100km but the dash readout was showing 8.1 at the end of our 348km test, of which about one third of that distance was hauling more than one tonne of payload.

That was lineball with our own figure, calculated from tripmeter and fuel bowser readings, of 8.3 which is outstanding single-digit economy given its big payload and GCM ratings. So, based on our figures, you could expect a ‘real world’ driving range of around 840km from its 70-litre tank.

Mercedes-Benz claims an official combined cycle figure of 6.8L/100km but the dash readout was showing 8.1 at the end of our 348km test. (Image: Mark Oastler) Mercedes-Benz claims an official combined cycle figure of 6.8L/100km but the dash readout was showing 8.1 at the end of our 348km test. (Image: Mark Oastler)

Driving - What’s it like to drive?

It offers a comfortable driving position with good eyelines to all mirrors, even though the central mirror’s view through the bulkhead window is slightly obscured by the centre seat headrest.

There’s a vast blind-spot over the driver’s left shoulder caused by the bulkhead and solid cargo bay walls. This requires total reliance on the passenger-side door mirror in traffic, fortunately with the reassurance of blind-spot monitoring and rear cross-traffic alert.

The driver’s seat, with its fold-down inboard armrest and multiple adjustment, is supportive and comfortable even though the recline angle of the backrest is restricted by the bulkhead behind it. Fortunately, there’s enough recline available, even for tall drivers.

The leather-trimmed steering wheel has a luxurious feel which is in stark contrast to the foot-operated parking brake, which lets out a loud spring-loaded ‘twang’ each time you pull the dashboard lever to release it.

The Vito features blind-spot monitoring and rear cross-traffic alert. (Image: Mark Oastler) The Vito features blind-spot monitoring and rear cross-traffic alert. (Image: Mark Oastler)

It’s nice to drive on a daily basis as the bulkhead seals off cargo bay noise, steering is nicely weighted, the four-wheel discs provide strong braking and the unladen ride quality with four-coil suspension is smooth and supple.

At city and suburban speeds, the nine-speed auto is efficient at keeping the turbo-diesel operating in its broad peak torque band, with energetic throttle response that never feels sluggish.

With adaptive cruise control it also has effortless highway performance, requiring only 1500rpm to maintain 100km/h and 1750rpm at 110km/h. Engine and wind noise are low, but tyre noise varies according to road surface and can be quite intrusive on coarse bitumen at these higher speeds.

To test its payload rating, we forklifted 975kg into the cargo bay. With the raised tailgate restricting forklift access, we could only load one weight-block through the rear and that was only possible using extended tynes on the forklift. The other two blocks were loaded through the side doors.

The Vito's raised tailgate restricts forklift access. (Image: Mark Oastler) The Vito's raised tailgate restricts forklift access. (Image: Mark Oastler)

With driver the total payload was 1065kg, which was less than 20kg under its limit. The coil-spring rear suspension compressed 75mm, which engaged the long rubber cones located inside the coils that provide a second stage of load support and a ride quality that’s free of thumps over bumps. The nose rose 30mm in response.

With more than a tonne on board, the Vito handled the load with ease. Although more accelerator pedal was needed, particularly on hills, the handling remained stable and it glided over bumps.

It also scoffed at our 13 per cent gradient 2.0km-long set climb at 60km/h, self-shifting down to third gear to easily haul this load to the summit.

Engine-braking on the way down, in a manually-selected second gear, wasn’t as effective which is usually the case with relatively small diesels trying to restrain heavy payloads on steep descents. The quartet of disc brakes kept our speeds below the posted 60km/h limit.

With 975kg loaded into the cargo bay, the coil-spring rear suspension compressed 75mm. (Image: Mark Oastler) With 975kg loaded into the cargo bay, the coil-spring rear suspension compressed 75mm. (Image: Mark Oastler)

Safety – What safety equipment is fitted? What is its safety rating?

Currently there's no ANCAP rating for Vito models built from January 2023. Even so, our test vehicle is loaded with active safety features in M-B’s latest ‘Adaptive ESPR – Electronic Stability Program 9i’ plus front and (side) window airbags for driver and outer passenger, digital reversing camera with three rear-view modes, heated door mirrors and lots more.

The Vito is loaded with active safety features. (Image: Mark Oastler) The Vito is loaded with active safety features. (Image: Mark Oastler)

 

Ownership – What warranty is offered? What are its service intervals? What are its running costs?

This is a very competent light commercial van that’s nice to drive, either unladen or with a heavy load. It’s also rated to carry more than a tonne (like the HiAce) while towing 2.5 tonnes (one tonne more than the HiAce) which would make it well suited to a wide range of job applications, particularly given the forklift-friendly option of rear barn-doors.

However, even in standard trim, without our test vehicle’s options, it costs about $20K more than Toyota’s dominant rival. So, only a potential buyer can decide if the Vito’s much higher pricing is justified after a decent test drive and consideration of its higher tow rating - and perceived prestige.

$63,278

Based on new car retail price

VIEW PRICING & SPECS

Daily driver score

4/5

Tradies score

4/5
Price Guide

$63,278

Based on new car retail price

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Disclaimer: The pricing information shown in the editorial content (Review Prices) is to be used as a guide only and is based on information provided to Carsguide Autotrader Media Solutions Pty Ltd (Carsguide) both by third party sources and the car manufacturer at the time of publication. The Review Prices were correct at the time of publication.  Carsguide does not warrant or represent that the information is accurate, reliable, complete, current or suitable for any particular purpose. You should not use or rely upon this information without conducting an independent assessment and valuation of the vehicle.