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