Review: Mercedes-Benz Vito (2003 – 2015)
Mercedes-Benz quality shines through with a comfortable and quiet cabin, lots of configurations thanks to various lengths and roof heights, strong engines.
Still has awkward foot-operated parking brake.
Recently Added To This Review
The Vito E-Cell now qualifies for the government’s Plug-In Van Grant that reduces costs by 20 per cent. Read more
Vito E-Cell is introduced with battery power and electric motor for emissions-free driving. E-Cell has 80-mile range and same load capacity and payload as standard diesel model. Read more
A major update of the second generation model introduced in 2003, new engines offer BlueEfficiency technology to cut emissions and save fuel, while all engines now meet Euro 5 emissions standards. The... Read more
Mercedes-Benz Vito (2003 – 2015): At A Glance
- On average it achieves 86% of the official MPG figure
Since its launch in 1995, the Mercedes-Benz Vito range has sold more than 1.1 million units worldwide. It’s not hard to see why it’s been such a sales success when you look at the latest generation model that landed in 2003 and was updated in 2010.
The Vito is a medium panel van that offers competitive running costs, space and excellent comfort, with the added attraction of the three-pointed star on its nose. That is a guarantee of quality and sound residual values.
Every Vito on sale has a Euro5 emissions-compliant engines, with most using the popular 2.1-litre common rail four-cylinder motor in 95PS, 136PS and 163PS power outputs. For those who really want to fly, there’s a 224PS 3.0-litre V6 turbodiesel.
The Vito comes in panel van, Dualiner crew cab form with up to six seats and the Traveliner minibus with seating for up to nine passengers. There’s also the choice of three body lengths and every Vito panel van comes well equipped as standard with Bluetooth, cruise control and steering wheel controls for the stereo.
The Vito’s cab is a hushed place to while away any journey thanks to superb insulation from road, wind and engine noise. It also gives a good view forwards and to the sides, while rear parking sensors are an option to help in tighter spots.
The longest Vito models can carry up to three Euro pallets, while maximum cargo volume goes all the way up to 7.4 cubic metres. Twin sliding side doors help with access to the load area, while a top-hinged tailgate is standard for short wheelbase, low roof models and side-hinged rear doors open to 180-degree or 270-degrees on all other versions. A low load sill helps further, while the load floor has a protective wood covering and load securing rings set into the floor.
What does a Mercedes-Benz Vito (2003 – 2015) cost?
Mercedes-Benz Vito (2003 – 2015): What's It Like Inside?
Mercedes-Benz passenger car experience transfers over very well to the Vito’s cab, which has a high class air and appeal. The centre console, instruments and steering wheel would all look very at home in one of Merc’s luxury saloons, yet they also sit very well in the Vito for more commercial use. They have a solid feel, which the company’s passenger cars have not always enjoyed.
The main instruments are easy to read and the steering wheel adjusts for height, while the gear lever is mounted high and close to the wheel at the base of the console. Also easy to use are the controls for the ventilation, but the stereo’s many buttons are too small and fiddly make sense of when driving. Just as well there are remote stereo controls on the steering wheel.
Mercedes-Benz persists with the foot-operated parking brake in the Vito, which we would like to see banished in favour of either a normal handbrake lever or electric handbrake button. Either way, the foot-operated parking brake is awkward to use and often releases with a loud thud.
On a happier note, the Vito offers good forward and side vision for manoeuvring and changing lane on the motorway. Rear parking sensors are an optional extra and you can also choose satellite navigation from the extras list.
The driver is provided with a comfortable seat, which feels quite firm at first but offers all the support you need for long distance driving. Refinement in the cab is good, but taller drivers and passengers may find legroom a little pinched. This is especially so for the passenger riding in the middle seat, where they have the double whammy of the gear lever housing jutting into their right knee.
If space in the cab can be a little on the tight side, there are no such concerns in the back of the Vito in its load area. Mercedes-Benz comprehensively revised the Vito in 2010 and it now can carry up to 1145kg depending on the model and tyres you choose. With two wheelbases, three body lengths that comprise compact, long and extra long, as well as two roof heights, it’s easy to configure the Vito to suit your needs.
What's the Mercedes-Benz Vito (2003 – 2015) like to drive?
Power for the Mercedes-Benz Vito comes from Merc’s tried and trusted 2.1-litre turbodiesel engine or a 3.0-litre V6 diesel that is also a well proven unit. The 224PS 3.0-litre motor turns the Vito into a real express delivery machine and makes for a very useful tow vehicle thanks to its 440Nm of torque, though a maximum towing capacity for a braked trailer of 2000kg is not as high as some rivals. Even so, the Vito 3.0-litre V6 makes short work of towing and is a great choice for those using its 1125kg maximum payload to the full on a regular basis.
Fun and spirited though the V6 is, the vast majority of Vito vans leave the showroom with the 2.1-litre CDI. This comes in 95PS, 136PS and 163PS forms, usually with a six-speed manual gearbox. A five-speed automatic transmission is also an option for those who spend more time in town and don’t want to tax their left leg so much. There is also the option of four-wheel drive, but most Vito vans are rear-wheel drive. Whichever combination you choose, the Vito comes with 18,000 mile servicing intervals and a three-year, unlimited mileage warranty.
Both the manual and automatic gearboxes have smooth, linear actions and help make the Vito live up to it classy Mercedes-Benz reputation. If you value the quality of the drive in your van and want something that delivers an experience beyond mere transport, the Vito is right up your street.
As well as the smooth gearboxes, the 2.1-litre CDI engines are notably smoother than the previous generation model’s. Even the 95PS motor lugs the Vito along with some urgency, though this engine is best suited to town use. For more varied driving, the 136PS engine is pretty much all you’ll ever need unless you want the longest body version of the Vito and cover lots of motorway miles, where the most powerful 2.1-litre diesel makes a sound choice for comfortable sustained cruising.
Vito customers have the choice of adding Merc’s BlueEfficiency technology to the Vito, which predominantly consists of stop-start that kicks in after two seconds of engine idling with the van out of gear. There’s also a gear shift indicator and low rolling resistance tyres to help cut emissions and fuel consumption.
In either standard or BlueEfficiency forms, the Vito feels lively and steers with a precision that has more in common with a large passenger estate car than most vans. This perhaps comes as less of a surprise when you know Mercedes-Benz sells a lot of Vito models as taxis, which are being bought to replace many traditional black cabs in the UK. There’s also a very tight turning circle, again a legacy of being designed with taxi work in mind. It makes the Vito immensely manoeuvrable in town, yet the steering is direct and precise on country roads and free from nervous shimmy on the motorway.
As for other comforts, the Vito’s suspension does a better job than most rivals at de-burring pockmarked roads whether the van is running empty or full to the hilt. It also handles corners with more alacrity and accuracy than most rivals, doing so with little lean and no wandering from the line intended by the driver.
Real MPG average for a Mercedes-Benz Vito (2003 – 2015)
Real MPG was created following thousands of readers telling us that their vehicles could not match the official figures.
Real MPG gives real world data from drivers like you to show how much fuel a vehicle really uses.
Diesel or petrol? If you're unsure whether to go for a petrol or diesel (or even an electric model if it's available), then you need our Petrol or Diesel? calculator. It does the maths on petrols, diesels and electric cars to show which is best suited to you.
What do owners think?
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