We don’t often review vans on carwow. There’s a good reason for this: Few of you who take the time to read this will ever go out and buy a brand new van.
However, van-based cars have been popular for a while now, as have car-based vans. And as the humble builder’s van offers more car-like refinements and a better drive, the crossover between them and traditional Multi Purpose Vehicles (MPVs) is increasingly blurred.
That’s why we gave the Ford Transit Custom a healthy 9/10 score in our review last month, deeming it far more practical than any MPV on sale. It’s also why we jumped at the chance to try Mercedes-Benz’s latest and greatest version of its popular Vito – here in range-topping Dualiner, Sport-X specification.
‘Dualiner’ is Mercedes-speak for a six-seat double cab (like the Transit) and Sport-X means this Vito features all the trimmings – a BRABUS styling package, leather interior trim and a lusty V6 diesel engine somewhere near your feet.
Be under no illusions: The Vito may feature all this kit, and scare traffic out of the way with the large three-pointed star on its snout, but in most respects it doesn’t feel like Mercedes’ production cars. It’s large and echoey, the plastics are more late-90s Mercedes than 2013 Mercedes and the engine, despite its three litres and six-cylinders, isn’t hugely refined. The steering wheel and seat also lack comprehensive adjustment, and the leather has more of a “wipe clean” than a luxury feel.
But it’s hugely spacious. It’s also relatively comfortable in both its seats and its ride. You can sling stuff in the back without worrying about dirtying a carpet or scuffing plastic, and the driving position is more commanding than anything this side of a Range Rover.
The engine is also punchy. The automatic gearbox takes a little while to wake up but plant foot to bulkhead and the big ‘Benz charges forward in a way few other vans can muster.
The stats back up the butt-dyno: 224 horsepower, 9.1 seconds to 60 mph, and 125 mph flat-out. If one of these appears on your bumper on the motorway, get out of its way…
The Vito Sport-X won’t be for everyone, and its price – from 35,240 for the Dualiner Sport-X – precludes its use as the sort of van you could just chuck bricks and sweaty builders into without a care. But if you’ve got the required folding, partake in outdoorsy pursuits and want a practical vehicle with a bit of flash, it could be the van for you.
Just don’t order it in white, okay?