By Clive Funizwe
Seeking entry into the Merc range of commercially geared vehicles? This is where it starts. Well, technically it starts with the Panel Van. The model we had for review was the Vito 111 CDI Tourer Base. You also get two higher specification models above that which is the Vito Tourer PRO and Tourer SELECT respectively.
Starting at R646, 063 – you get some good safety features and practicality. This model comes with optional lane keep assist that warns the driver by vibrating the steering in the event of the car drifting out of a lane. The model also comes with cross wind assist, attention assist, collision prevention assist and an optional blind spot assist. Those who intend on using this as a commercial vehicle would be glad to know that it also comes with a lockable glove compartment, a robust wood floor that is slip-resistant which also improves acoustic insulation.
A/C and dual airbags come as standard. But we would not bother with the optional 3-Seater bench. The middle seat is directly behind the gear lever and eats into the leg/knee room even by small kid’s standards. This was also not helped by the fact that the front passenger seats were not adjustable. So finding the optimum position off comfort is less likely to happen.
Overall, the interior is robust by panel van standards. We did however feel that the interior ergonomics are optimized for left hand drive countries. For example – the car does not have a multi-functional steering and the most used controls like the volume knob and handset buttons were all further left of the center screen.
What we really liked was how frugal the 1.6 Diesel engine was. We averaged a respectable 6.8l/100km during peak traffic and high way driving. The engine does show a significant amount of turbo lag and the boost comes in for a limited range. Our test model came in a 6 speed manual – which meant there are frequent change downs where inclines surface. However, once the car gets going – it holds its own from a handling point of view and overall pace when doing long distances. One other thing we would have liked to see as a standard feature is a PDC. For a car of this length – it would come in handy as there is no reverse camera too.
In summary, this is a vehicle that can be used as a panel van and/or passenger carrier which raises the practicality stakes very high and can be comprehensively utilized for its myriad of business fulfilling features. It can be a shuttle in the mornings and afternoons and transport some goods during the day and still take the family to a holiday over the weekends. Couple all of that to the line-up’s service plan that has been extended by 30,000kms – which takes it to a 5 Year/120,000kms, and you have winner in areas that are not so obvious at first.
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