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Mercedes-Benz Vito Sport Compact Dualiner (2013 - ) expert review

 

Mercedes-Benz Vito Sport Compact Dualiner (2013 -     ) expert review

Price: £26,395 inc VAT

Verdict

“Vito Sports are the must-have medium panel van. While everyone rants about how good VW Transporters are, those in the know drive a Vito Sport. They’re fast, practical and drop-dead gorgeous. Not badly priced for what they are too.”

Overall: 5 out of 5

Pros

Very comfortable

A very practical 5-seater 

Sheer joy of driving it

Cons

Insurance costs steep for younger drivers

1. Exterior

Few light commercial vehicles have the appeal of the Vito Sport and I drove a silver metallic painted Vito 116CDI Sport Compact Dualiner with registration YP61 GEY. It has left and right sliding doors with tinted glass in the rear windows. The bumpers and bumper strips are body coloured and front lights are reflection-type and have daytime driving lights. Externally it looks like the panel van, but inside is a three-seat set of removable rear seats. The wheels on our test model were 7” six-spoke alloys and they look the business. All in all, a Vito Sport is a very good-looking van and really well made. 

Our rating: 5

2. Interior

The Vito Sport is carpeted front to back and this particular one was fitted out with lima black fabric. There’s a strong rubber floor which covers the rear cargo area plus there’s a 12V socket in the back for passengers to use too. Ours had the sport accessory pack which adds ‘Sport’ branded floor mats and chrome sidebars. The driver’s cabin is very plush and has a leather-coated multifunction steering wheel and leather coated stickshift. Another neat touch are the floor level lamps so we can see the door step in the dark. The in-cab storage is adequate, with front door pockets, each with a bottle shaped holder at the leading edge and one can/cup holder in the centre slide-out tray. The illuminated glovebox is lockable and there is one lidded box on the top of the dash to hide phones and stuff, plus a shallow depression under the window where paperwork can be left. Further enhancements to distinguish it from the more commercial standard Vitos include uprated seats, air-con, the auto gearbox and cruise control. There’s luxury roof lining which really makes this stand out amongst its rivals and a fully trimmed loadbox at the rear, and this helps to insulate the occupants from road noise.  The ride is very, very quiet. 

Our rating: 4

3. Practicality

The Vito Sport has a three seater bench at the front so you can get three people in the front (whereas the Sport X has two individual seats with armrests). There is a folding ‘two plus one’ seat bench in the rear. The seat backs can fold flat on to the squabs or can be tipped forward to maximise the floorspace. Although it’s a premium looking van, the Vito Sport is rear-wheel drive and will happily power over wet grass or mild off-road tracks making it a very practical van indeed. In the Dualiner configuration it makes a very roomy family car. 

Our rating: 5

4. Ride and handling

The Sport sits on independent suspension all round and the ride quality is excellent even when there’s no weight in the rear. The power steering is very sharp and there’s no body roll, even when twisting it round roundabouts.  The ride quality is very ‘Benz-like and it’s hard to resist giving it some beans! If you’ve driven a lot of vans, then driving this Vito Sport really will wake you up to just how good a medium panel van can be to drive. No wonder you see a lot them used as taxis or large family cars. Power-assisted steering helps it turn smoothly too.

Our rating: 5

5. Performance

0 to 60mph can be reached in 11.5 seconds which is very nice considering you’re driving almost two-tons. It has 6-gears and what’s called an ECO Gear 360 manual transmission – and it’s very nice use indeed.

Our rating: 5

6. Running costs

The Vito Sport 116CDI I drove comes in at £26,395. It’s comparable to a VW Transporter Kombi but with the Vito you get air con and cruise control as standard while these are extras on the Transporter. There’s a wide gap between the various engine models on offer so you might find it hard to pick between this 35.8mpg frugal 116 CDI version or the even-more-fun-to-drive but thirsty 120CDI. We loved the 116CDI though. Insurance group is N and first year costs should be around £2,200. 

Our rating: 4

7. Cargo area

Think of the Vito Sport as a crew van than as a load lugger. Behind the rear seats the load floor length is 1.3 metres long, but this can be extended to 1.6 metres by folding the rear seats forward or you can take them out for a full 2 metre load length.

Our rating: 4

8. Safety

When it comes to safety aids, the Vito Sport pretty much has them all. The Mercedes ESP system is the most advanced in the LCV world. This also has ABS but this is assisted by ASR (acceleration skid control), EBD (electronic brakeforce distribution) and BAS (brake assist). It also has Child Safety Locks and a speed limiter. 

Our rating: 5

9. Equipment

Apart from the leather trim on the steering wheel and gearstick and the carpeted floors, there is air conditioning, with additional venting for the rear seat passengers, and heat insulating glass all round plus tinted windows on the sliding doors. It has an ASSYST service computer which tells you when the van needs work doing. The Speedtronic cruise control and speed limiter are easy to use too.  Soundwise there’s a nice Audio 20 unit with a CD player and two-way speakers both front and in the rear. There’s also an AUX socket too so you can link up a music player or iPhone. Compared to other vans on the market, the interior is extremely well finished and quiet too. 

Our rating: 5

10. Why buy?

“Because you want a brilliant sporty van to drive that also has great handling. Beware though the fuel consumption can be a bit startling if you’re not used to driving a van like this. Go for the frugal 116CDI and you won’t be disappointed.”

Our rating: 5