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Driven: Facelifted Merc Vito, Viano

2010-12-03 12:38

PRETTY HARDCORE: The Viano's MPV appearance conceals some serious luxury pedigree.

Vehicle Specs
Manufacturer Mercedes
Model Vito and Viano
ABS with ESP, EBD and adaptive brake lights, ASR, brake assist and, for vehicles fitted with a factory-fitted trailer coupling, TSA
Airbags from driver only (Vito panel van) to driver, passenger and side thorax (Viano ambiente). Window 'bags are optional.
Tyres Vito: 16-inch tyre and wheel combination; Viano: 16-inch for Viano Fun, 17-inch for Viano Trend and Ambiente
Service Intervals up to 30 000km
Price from R296 286

Hailey Philander

Mercedes-Benz has taken its Vito workhorse and Viano luxury MPV sisters and given the range a decent shake-up. New engines and BlueEfficiency are just two of the new features to look forward to.

Given the dominance of Mercedes’ Sprinter in the large van segment, it’s hardly surprising that the automaker would like to see that model’s more petite siblings score a greater share of the medium van and luxury MPV pie. And the mid-cycle facelift has given the local subsidiary the perfect excuse to toss up a hurricane of changes.

The SA-market Vito and Viano, built at the company’s Vitoria plant in Spain, has swelled from six to 12 models in a line-up that, Mercedes-Benz hopes, will win it significant favour with corporate buyers and families alike.

NEW AND UPRATED ENGINES

Despite this being a mid-cycle facelift, the changes are really quite significant. The suspension has been altered to provide a more supple ride, particularly for the Viano, while the introduction of a number of new and uprated engines adds an element of excitement. For the first time a 3.5-litre V6 petrol engine is available in a Viano; both Viano and Vito benefit from an all-new, four-cylinder, 2.2-litre CDI turbodiesel and a new V6 CDI.

All the engines are Euro5 compliant and, as such, the CDI runs on 50ppm low-sulphur diesel.

Most importantly, perhaps, are the changes to the Vito line-up. There are now three variants and a splash of colour options. The Vito range extends from the basic eight-seater Function entry-level to Crew Bus and Crew Cab and a top-spec Shuttle introduced in a bid to dissuade DIY conversions from crew bus to bona fide transporter.

CREW + TOOLS: The Crewbus comfortably seats five and has ample space for tools or equipment.

BLUE EFFICIENCY

Changes extend to the powertrains where BlueEfficiency is now standard on all CDI's to reduce fuel consumption and CO2 emissions, notwithstanding the increase in engine power across the ranges. For Vito and Viano, BlueEfficiency signals the introduction of a  six-speed gearbox with shift indicator, an intuitive stop/start system that shuts down the engine when neutral is engaged and your foot’s on the brake but fires up just as quickly when first gear is re-engaged, and new tyres with less rolling resistance.

Journalists attending the launch sampled both pre and post-facelift Vitos and Vianos, where the increases in power were probably the most pronounced changes, while the improved ride comfort and softer trim options were evident, too.

Shifts through the new manual gearbox were purposeful and provided no hint of the size of the vehicle being driven while ABS-enabled braking was reassuringly predictable.

NEW VITO: Showing off the new look of the revised Vito range.

COLOURS, KIT

While the Vito’s expanded range allows the utilitarian van to explore territory beyond its white-van roots, the Viano has taken on a definite car feel with more focus on interior comfort. The Viano’s new face is heavily influenced by those of Merc's über-SUVs and the level of kit available has blossomed to a true check-list of what’s hot (concerning comfort-enhancing goods) on four wheels.

New comfort features on the Viano include a rear-view camera to make parking and reversing the five-metre bus a breeze, bi-xenon headlights with LED running lights and curve-following fog lights. Every Viano comes with pre-wiring for an optional rear entertainment system to keep antsy rear passengers occupied.

A new addition to the Viano range is the entry-level Viano Fun that comes with camper-van features and sleeps four - the rearmost bench folds flat into a double bed; the extra accomodation can be sought in roof-top quarters. Groovy. The more serious mid-specced 3.0 CDI Trend and two Ambiente range-toppers (one diesel V6, the other a 3.5-litre V6) complete the range. 

As with other Mercedes-Benz cars, the Viano comes with the staggered MobiloDrive 120 maintenance plan and a two-year or unlimited kmce warranty.

Big news for prospective Vito owners seeking peace of mind is the new standard five-year or 90 000km service plan that can be upped to a maintenance plan.

REAR VIEW: As part of its revision, the Viano tail-light cluster is now different to and more rounded than that of the Viano. Top-spec Ambientes also have reversing cameras.

ENGINES

Vito:
113 CDI BlueEfficiency (Panel Van and Crewbus Function)                  
Power: 100kW at 3800rpm
Max torque: 310Nm from 1400-2 600rpm
Claimed fuel consumption: 7.2 litres/100km
CO2 emissions: 180g/km
Top speed: 17km/h
0-100 km/h: 13.4sec

116 CDI BlueEfficiency (Crewbus, Crewcab and Panel Van)
Power: 120kW at 3800rpm
Max torque: 360Nm from 1600-2400r/min
Claimed fuel consumption: 6.9 litres/100km
CO2 emissions: 182g/km
Top speed: 191km/h
0-100 km/h: 11.5sec

122 CDI BlueEfficiency (Crewbus and Crewcab Sport)
Power: 165kW at 380 r/min
Max torque: 440Nm from 1400-800rpm
Claimed fuel consumption: 8.7 litres/100km
CO2 emissions: 229g/km
Top speed: 201km/h
0-100 km/h: 9.1sec

Viano:
2.2CDI (Viano Fun)
Power: 120kW at 3800 r/min
Max torque: 360Nm from 1600-2400rpm
Claimed fuel consumption: 7.2 litres/100 km
CO2 emissions: 192g/km
Top speed: 188km/h
0-100 km/h: 12.18sec

3.0CDI (Viano Trend and Ambiente)
Power: 165kW at 3800r/min
Max. Torque: 440Nm from 1400-2800rpm
Claimed fuel consumption: 8.6 litres/100 km
CO2 emissions: 226g/km
Top speed 201km/h
0-100 km/h: 9.1sec

3.5 V6 (Viano Ambiente)
Power: 190kW at 5900rpm
Max torque: 340Nm from 2500-5000rpm
Claimed fuel consumption: 12.1 litres/100 km
CO2 emissions: 284g/km
Top speed: 217km/h
0-100 km/h: 10.4sec

PRICES

Vito:
113CDI Panel Van - R296 286
116CDI Panel Van - R315 210
116CDI Crewcab - R383 610
113CDI Function - R404 700
116CDI Crewbus - R454 900
116CDI Shuttle - R489 500
122CDI Sport Crewcab - R501 486
122CDI Shuttle - R569 000

Viano:
2.2CDI Fun - R559 900
3.0CDI Trend - R599 900
3.5 V6 Ambiente - R654 900
3.0CDI Ambiente - R659 900
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