Prac­ti­cal car­rier is pricey

ROAD TEST/ Mer­cedes’ Vito 111 is a few-frills but ver­sa­tile nine-seater, writes De­nis Droppa

Business Day - Motor News - - MOTOR NEWS -

The Vito is the com­mer­cially ori­ented work­horse, mid­size van op­tion from Mer­cedes-Benz, whose more lux­u­ri­ous V-Class is aimed at the fam­ily seg­ment.

Po­si­tioned as a high-pay­load, af­ford­able of­fer­ing, the Vito is a ver­sa­tile ve­hi­cle of­fered in a num­ber of panel van and peo­ple-car­ry­ing de­riv­a­tives.

The per­mis­si­ble gross vehi- cle weight is 2.8 tons-3.05 tons, and the panel van can carry a hefty 1,344 kg pay­load.

The vari­ant on test here is the nine-seater 111 Tourer Pro with the 5,140mm body (the Vito is also avail­able in ex­tra-long 5,370mm and com­pact 4,895mm con­fig­u­ra­tions).

The 111 Tourer is a mid­sized com­mer­cial ve­hi­cle that can be used as a peo­ple car­rier or cargo lugger, or com­bi­na­tions of it.

A more pre­mium Vito Tourer Se­lect model is also avail­able, but the Vito Tourer Pro, priced at R623,910, is a ba­sic-fea­tured bus aimed at busi­ness ap­pli­ca­tions such as shut­tle ser­vices.

Only the driver’s seat can be ad­justed for back­rest an­gle and legroom. The eight pas­sen­ger pews are all fixed in place, with the front two seats set at a par­tic­u­larly up­right an­gle that could be­come un­com­fort­able over a longer jour­ney. A lit­tle too much cost-cut­ting there, me­thinks.

Though the seats don’t ad­just, pas­sen­gers do en­joy ex­cep­tional leg- and head-room, and there’s heaps of lug­gage space. The rear two rows of seats can all be re­moved to turn this Vito into a cav­ernous panel van. Ac­cess to the rear is made easy by slid­ing doors on each side.

As for in­fo­tain­ment, there’s just a ba­sic old-school non­touch­screen au­dio sys­tem but it does have USB and aux ports, and Blue­tooth, for hands-free tele­phony and mu­sic stream­ing. The only other frills are air-con, au­to­matic head­lights, elec­tric win­dows, and cen­tral lock­ing.

The seats are cloth-covered and the dash­board is all hard plas­tics, fur­ther un­der­lin­ing this Vito’s work­horse-ori­ented place in Merc’s peck­ing or­der.

Un­der the short snout is a 1.6l tur­bod­iesel with front-wheel drive and a six-speed man­ual trans­mis­sion. No au­to­matic is of­fered in this 111 vari­ant, un­like the more ex­pen­sive Vi­tos.

A 1.6 seems a lit­tle un­der­en­dowed for a big peo­ple car­rier, but the en­gine is rea­son­ably well pow­ered ex­cept for some no­tice­able turbo lag at low revs. Some­times you get stuck in a frus­trat­ing “dead zone” wait­ing for this van to awaken from its snooze, but once into its power band this small-ca­pac­ity en­gine pulls with sur­pris­ing punch­i­ness. The 84kW power out­put is mod­est but a very cred­itable 270Nm of load-lug­ging torque is on call.

Usu­ally an au­to­matic makes

The rear two rows of seats can be re­moved to turn this Vito into a cav­ernous pan­el­van. Right: The en­gine is rea­son­ably well-pow­ered ex­cept for turbo lag at low revs.

In­fo­tain­ment is lim­ited to a non­touch­screen au­dio sys­tem but it does have USB and aux ports, and Blue­tooth.

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