Refreshed Vito & Viano launched
Perhaps even MBSA themselves didnt realise what a hit they had on their hands with their Viano and Vito ranges when they were launched locally five years back. In much the same manner as the Cadillac Escalade became the gangster and rap star pimp-fodder, the practicality and versatility offered by the range found credibility and customers in everyone from corporate fleet managers, small business owners, outdoor sporting enthusiasts and even large families.
This was (and is) a car that could, depending on your choice of model and configuration, comfortably and safely carry the extended family to the seaside holiday home, the motocross bikes to the track, the electrical and plumbing goodies to the next job, or shuttle the marketing department to their next launch function. Not to mention potentially doing all of this with one car when the need beckons!
So with everyone finding new ways to brand-wrap, accessorize, make use of and praise these much loved crossover vans, Mercedes Benz has decided that a form and functional revamp was needed, and this has now just been announced, due for local release in January 2011.
To clarify, the Vito is MBs popular van brand you will see on many a South African road, and is currently available in three forms which all share the same platform and body styles with only the window count and interior appointments altered to suit: the Panelvan is the no-frills, maximum load capacity contractors dream; the
Crewcab throws in seating for up to six people along with a healthy load area at the back; while the Crewbus aims for maximum comfort for up to nine passengers.
The Viano meanwhile aims purely at luxurious people transportation with practical load space and configuration options, more suited to large families and perhaps the service industry, almost an upmarket and opulent version of the Vito Crewbus, with many more standard comfort appointments and slightly different body and styling cues to highlight its more passenger-oriented focus.
Updates to the Viano centre more around engine and chassis improvements than a radical external appearance change. Three rear-wheel-drive diesel models are available, starting with the 120kW 4-cylinder 2.2-litre Fun, the 165kW V6 3.0-litre Trend and the range topping Ambiente with its 190kW V6 3.5-litre doing the work. The Fun makes use of a 6-speed manual shifter, and the bigger brothers leave that to their automatic 5-gear box. Most notably, Mercs BlueEFFICIENCY technology has been incorporated into the drivetrains, a conglomeration of efficiency technologies such as particulate filters, low power steering pumps, shift indicators, battery management systems, oxidation catalytic converters and cooled gas recirculation.
The 2.2 engine has received the most attention with its common rail and variable turbine turbo technology along with high-pressure injectors keeping it as frugal as possible while still being good for 188km/h at top speed, while delivering 192g/km of CO2 (the V6 3.0-litre and V6 3.5-litres will deliver 201km/h at 226g/km and 217km/h at 284g/km respectively). Counter rotating Lanchester balancing shafts keep the diesel engines smooth in both feel and response.
Other innovations incorporated into the range are a redesigned gearbox for smoother and more efficient driving, and start-stop technology to further save fuel. Much effort has also been placed on the redesign of the Vianos chassis and drivetrain components, said to offer much improved handling, ride comfort and safety benefits. This extends to a complete revamp of the suspension components, bearings and axles.
An impressive remodeling of Vianos interior has taken place, making the cockpit and seating areas a generally even more pleasant place to be for that long trip or VIP shuttle. Ambient lighting, additional power sockets, multi zone air-conditioning, attractive chrome accented features and revised switches compliment the new multifunction steering wheel and gear lever designs, interior paneling and bluetooth/ DVD/Satnav stereo system. Innovations such as overhead storage and switches as well as optional interior Lugano leather trim and multimedia entertainment packages make the Viano a very pleasant place to spend a time whilst on the road indeed.
To compliment the new interiors visual appeal, auditory influences were also given attention additional sound deadening materials and shock absorbers, structural reinforcements and modified seals have all helped keep the Vianos cabin noise down to chauffeur-quality levels.
On the outside, the Viano sports a distinctive new face with the distinctive MB grille and badging in place, complete with repositioned indicators, new reflective headlamp clusters, fog lights and optional LED daytime lights, active cornering Bi-Xenons and washer system. The colour-coded bumpers have had a face and bum lift to complement the redesigned front and rear lamp clusters, and new alloy wheels round off the exterior treatment.
All of these have not come at a cost to practicality or capacity Vianos permissible gross weight has actually been increased to just over 3 tons, and the configurable seat and wide-berth hatch is retained to offer ample load space for whatever luggage the in-laws may bring along. Safety features in a car and brand of this nature have naturally not been overlooked, and the usual sprinkle of ABS, EBD, airbags and seatbelts for all passengers come standard.
Moving sideways to the Vito, its new variants share the same platform of the new Viano, meaning that it shares much of the same under-the-skin improvements, while its tougher, practical nature tends towards the interior appointments a little differently. This includes the aforementioned chassis improvements and safety features.
The Function variant is the 100kW 113CDi entry-level people carrier, focused on getting people from A to B in comfort and safety. It is an 8-seater (9 optional) with removable triple seater bench seats. The Shuttle is more luxurious and feature-rich, incorporating ambient lighting, additional visors, cruise control and other more discerning appointments, all alongside a long list of optional extras. The bumpers are also colour-coded, it has larger alloy wheels and features a higher spec multi speaker, bluetooth stereo system. Notably, the popular long version of Vito, at just over 5 metres long with a higher roof and extended overhangs for increased loading ease and space, will still be available to those intending to use the Vito for serious duty.
Engine-wise, the Function and Panelvan models get the 113CDi (100kW, 180g/km) option, while the 116CDi (120kW, 182g/km) engine is fitted to the Crewbus and Crewcab (optional on the Panelvan), and the V6 CDi Sport (165kW, 229g/km) to the Crewbus and Crewcab options. All are diesel and sport the Vianos engine technologies listed earlier, with the 5-speed auto gearbox standard on V6 models and optional on the 4-cylinder models to replace their standard 6-speed manual shifters.
On the outside, Vito has received similar (optional colour-coded) bumper, grille and lighting treatment to give it a more modern look, as well as new alloy wheels. Optional lighting features a la Viano are also available to more discerning Vito buyers. On the inside, the interior treatment includes Viano upgrades such as the revised
gearknob, switches, chrome accents, overhead control unit, ambient lighting, multifunction steering wheel, bluetooth stereo system and DVD entertainment package, depending on model and option choice. New colour options and paneling further enhance the cabin feel.
Long maintenance intervals and various service plans are available on both Viano and Vito models. MBs ASSYST service computer comes as standard, and calculates oil-change intervals on a flexible basis according to the actual use of the vehicle. The average interval across all engines stands at 30 000 km or two years. Higher mileages are also possible between oil changes, depending on the intensity of use and the individual driving style.
The Viano model range comes standard with the MobiloDrive 120 (maintenance contract) together with a 2-year/unlimited km warranty. On the Vito, besides the standard 2-year warranty, MB offer their 5-year/90 000km CharterWay options, which range from a basic service plan covering service components, right up to a fully comprehensive option, which is sensibly tailored to suit Vitos potentially broad customer and market base.
Retail prices on the base models in the Viano range is as follows:
Viano 2.2CDi Fun R553 744.00
Viano 3.0CDiTrend R590 837.00
Viano 3.0CDi Ambiente R650 837.00
Viano 3.5 V6 Ambiente R640 878.00
Retail prices on the base models in the Vito range is as follows:
Vito 116CDi P/V R315 210.00
Vito 113CDi P/V R296 286.00
Vito 116CDi Crewcab R383 610.00
Vito 122CDi Crewcab R501 486.00
Vito 113CDi Function R398 715.00
Vito 116CDi Crewbus R448 915.00
Vito 116CDi Shuttle R483 515.00
Vito 122CDi Shuttle R560 193.50
- Kevin Willemse