The poshest mid-size van is also one of the best
- Choice of front- or rear-wheel drive
- Three body lengths
- High quality feel
- Long-distance comfort
- Good value
- Pull release handbrake
- Stalk-mounted automatic gearstick
- Rivals offer higher payloads
- Cramped cab
- Lacks some creature comforts
Launched in 2015, this generation of Mercedes Vito medium van is relatively unusual in van circles for being all-new from the skin down to the chassis, rather than an evolution of the (admittedly rather similar looking) previous version.
As you’d expect from the Mercedes badge on the front, it is one of the more premium choices on the market – which means you should expect to pay more for one of these than an equivalent Ford Transit Custom, Vauxhall Vivaro or Citroen Dispatch.
As such, the Vito’s closest competitor is the VW Transporter, which also puts a premium on being more premium. Both hold their value well, though, which means monthly leasing rates may prove more affordable than you’d initially think given these are heavily influenced by re-sale value.
Mercedes Vito strengths and weaknesses
There’s no suggestion the Vito is actually bad value anyway. The saying ‘you get what you pay for’ applies to vans as well as anything else, and this Mercedes gives you a high quality of finish and a driving experience that does feel a cut above most competitors.
It’s also the only mid-size van available with a choice of front- or rear-wheel drive, which combined with a range of three body lengths means there is almost certainly a Vito to meet your needs.
Four-wheel drive is also available, but this is more of a special order option than a regular part of the range.
Other positives include a solid reputation for reliability (the Vito consistently appears in the top 10 of the FN50 van reliability survey), a payload rating that has increased by up to 120kg compared to the previous model, and 30 years of roadside assistance cover (yes, 30).
Mercedes Vito body styles and variants
In addition to the regular panel van, Mercedes also builds the Vito as a crew van (meaning a second row of seats) and a Tourer (a low-rent version of the V-Class MPV in the Mercedes passenger car range).
But while the Vito is offered in three body lengths – Compact, Long and Extra-Long, renamed L1, L2 and L3 in 2019 – there is only one roof height.
Front-wheel drive Vitos borrow bits from the Renault Trafic family, and come with a choice of two Renault 1.6-litre diesel engines, while rear-wheel drive Vitos use a 2.1-litre Mercedes engine available in three power outputs.
A seven-speed automatic is optional on the two less-powerful rear-wheel drive models, and fitted as standard on the range-topping version. Front-wheel drive models are restricted to a six-speed manual gearbox only, as also fitted as standard on the less-powerful rear-drivers.
An electric version called the eVito is set to go on sale in the UK in 2019; click here to read our first impressions of this zero emissions model, which we've driven as a prototype.
Mercedes Vito updates for 2019
In addition to the eVito, 2019 brings a number of other changes for Mercedes' medium van, as in January the firm announced it would start offering a choice of three trim levels in place of the single specification it previously sold.
The new trim levels are labelled Pure, Progressive and Premium, and are available on the Vito panel van and Vito crew van only (the Vito Tourer was already sold in Pro and Select variants). You can find details of what each one offers in the Costs and Value section below.
It was at this point that Mercedes also announced that the Compact, Long and Extra Long body lengths would be renamed L1, L2 and L3 respectively. Full details of all Vito dimensions are available on our dedicated Vito dimensions page.
Mercedes Vito verdict
A relatively small and slightly cramped-feeling cab aside, the Vito cuts an impressive dash.
Some rivals will ultimately carry more, but few in the medium van sector can compete with Mercedes for long-distance comfort – although we would caution you to opt for a rear-wheel drive model if this is a priority, as the driving experience is superior.
For more details keep reading for the full Mercedes Vito medium van review on Parkers Vans
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The Vito is available with front-, rear- and even four-wheel drive powertrains, though the last is more of a special order. This level of choice is very unusual in the mid-size van sector.
Mercedes Vito front-wheel drive
It comes in two power outputs, both paired with a six-speed manual gearbox:
- 109 CDI with 88hp and 230Nm
- 111 CDI with 114hp and 270Nm
Either option is fine if you just want a cheap Vito, but compared to the rear-wheel drive models they feel lethargic and not quite as nice to drive. The potential payload and fuel economy advantages don't really stack up, either.
Mercedes Vito rear-wheel drive
Rear-wheel drive Vitos are fitted with Mercedes' long-serving 2.1-litre engine, in the following three outputs:
- 114 CDI with 136hp and 330Nm
- 116 CDI with 163hp and 380Nm
- 119 CDI with 190hp and 440Nm
Immediately you can see there's a significant upgrade in performance, particularly torque, which makes them much better at shifting loads even before you've considered the additional traction offered by the rear-wheel drive layout.
In fact, these are genuinely rather rapid vans - particularly in 116 and 119 configuration.
The optional seven-speed automatic transmission (standard on the 119) available on these models suits them very well, too, shifting smoothly and taking the pain out of traffic jams, while paddleshifters on the back of the steering wheel allow you to take manual control.
Excellent handling with long-distance comfort
Some have complained that the electrically-assisted power steering is a little too light around town. But we find its accuracy more than makes up for this, and the Vito generally very pleasant to drive.
Although visibility isn't brilliant due to the narrow windows, the suspension is finely balanced between delivering good long-distance ride comfort and suppressing bodyroll in the corners - meaning you can make quick progress on all types of roads.
All-electric Mercedes eVito coming in 2019
In November 2017, Mercedes announced a new electric van plan, including the news that it would launch an all-electric eVito model in 2018, with a new eSprinter coming the following year.
While the eVito isn't likely to come to the UK until 2019, we have driven a prototype already. Click here to read our dedicated review.
The interior has been completely updated, but still retains the traditional ‘simple but presentable’ ethos of the previous generation - as well as many of its idiosyncracies...
For while quality of fit and finish is high, and we like the seats and the driving position, if you're coming to a Vito from another brand of van, there will be a few things you need to get used to.
Unusual interior controls and features
For example, it retains Mercedes' trademark foot-operated parking brake, which is a marmite feature among drivers, along with the dashboard mounted light switch.
Worse is the gearstick for the automatic transmission, which is located behind the steering wheel on a stalk where you would usually find the controls for the windscreen wipers. Do not be surprised if you knock the van out of gear the first time you drive it in the rain.
Obviously, you'll get used to these things in time, but if you're regularly hoping between vehicles it will continue to be rather jarring.
Not as spacious as some rivals
Compared to likes of the Transit Custom and Transporter, the Vito's cab is also rather cramped, with a relatively narrow windscreen and low ceiling.
Third seats in medium panel vans are often as useful as an inflatable dartboard, and the one in the new Vito is no exception. There is very limited legroom, even without the gearbox carving a big slice of it for itself.
It's also disappointing to note the lack of creature comforts such as DAB radio.
While the Vito certainly isn't the cheapest medium van on the market, strong secondhand values help keep monthly finance payments competitive, and running costs shouldn't be too unreasonable.
In fact, Mercedes reckons the 2015-onwards version of the Vito is as much as 20% cheaper to run than its predecessor, thanks to increased service intervals and improved fuel economy.
New Mercedes Vito trim levels for 2019
In January 2019 Mercedes announced three new trim levels for the Vito: Pure, Progressive and Premium.
This move is intended to make it easier for customers to compare the Vito to rival vehicles and in the process get the right Vito for their business requirements. Happily, the changes also increased the Vito's standard equipment.
Mercedes Vito Pure standard equipment highlights:
- Leather steering wheel (and gearknob where a manual gearbox is fitted)
- Audio 10 infotainment system
- Overhead control panel
- Automatic headlights
- Parking sensors
- Active Park Assist automatic parking
- Heated, electrically adjusted door mirrors
- Heat-insulating glass
- 'Comfort' driver's seat
The Pure specification is only available in combination with the 109 CDI, 111 CDI and 114 CDI engine options.
Mercedes Vito Progressive standard equipment highlights (in addition to Pure):
- Metallic paint
- Colour-coded bumpers
- Audio 15 infotainment system with colour screen
- Electric-folding door mirrors
- Front fog lights
- Cruise control
- Driver's seat lumbar support
The Vito Progressive is available with all engine options except the most powerful 119 CDI.
Mercedes Vito Premium standard equipment highlights (in addition to Progressive):
- 17-inch alloy wheels
- Chrome radiator grille
- Reversing camera
- Anti-theft protection package with double lock
- Velour floor mats
- Pre-wiring for Becker Map Pilot sat-nav system
The Vito Premium comes as a 114 CDI, 116 CDI or 119 CDI.
Note that not even the Premium model includes sat-nav or DAB digital radio as standard. The latter is particularly disappointing, but at least it is now optional.
Mercedes Vito fuel economy
Maximum claimed fuel economy for a Vito that meets the latest Euro 6 emissions regulations is 47.1mpg; slightly disappointing in a sector of the market where some rivals now comfortably top 50mpg.
As with most vans that meet Euro 6, the Vito has an AdBlue tank that you also need to keep topped up.
Mercedes Vito service intervals
The Vito requires a service once every 25,000 miles or two years, whichever is sooner. That's a big improvement over the VW Transporter, but some way off the 36,000-mile intervals of the Ford Transit Custom fitted with the 2.0-litre Euro 6 engine.
Traditionally, official Mercedes servicing has always been thought of as quite expensive, but the company has been working hard to reduce costs, with the availability of Mercedes' own line of re-conditioned parts bringing further savings.
It's also worth noting that if you do get your Vito serviced by Mercedes-Benz, you automatically get roadside assistance cover. This can be reactivated with a service at Mercedes right up until the van is 30 years old.
Every Vito is fitted with the following standard safety equipment:
- Driver and passenger airbags
- Adaptive ESP (electronic stability control) - varies the braking force required to prevent a loss of grip depending on the weight and position of the van’s load
- Crosswind Assist - actively stabilises the van in windy conditions
- Attention Assist - detects driver fatigue
- Hill-Start Assist
- Disc brakes front and rear
Optional Vito safety equipment includes:
- Reversing camera with trailer mode, a system that shows projected coupling lines on the screen
- Parking Assist, which automatically steers the van into spaces (standard as of January 2019)
- Collision Prevention Assist - an autonomous emergency braking (AEB) system
Security equipment isn't quite so generous, with only remote locking and an immobiliser as standard. Mercedes does offer an alarm, but this is optional on all but the Premium trim level introduced in January 2019.
As ever, we'd recommend upgrading the security well beyond standard if you need to leave valuable items inside; better yet, remove them from the van completely as much as you can.