DaimlerChrysler has revealed the new range of V-Class MPVs with the addition of an additional version – the Viano – which is more luxury-oriented. Compared to the previous V-Class, the new model series cover a far broader range of applications. As a result, there is a choice of three vehicle lengths (4748 mm to 5223 mm) and two different wheelbases (3200 mm and 3400 mm), with four engines available for the Viano and five for the Vito.
The engines include CDI diesel engines, whose outputs range from 65 kW/88 hp to 110 kW/150 hp, and two 6-cylinder petrol powerplants generating 140 kW/190 hp and 160 kW/218 hp. Power goes to the rear wheels via either a 6-speed manual or a 5-speed automatic transmission.
The previous V-Class was engineered with high levels of safety and protection for the occupants and again, achieving maximum levels of active and passive safety was given top priority during the integral development of the new Viano and Vito.
The new rear-wheel drive, for example, offers enhanced traction for all vehicle loads. The decision to mount the engines longitudinally opened up the possibility of further enhancing passive safety at the front end as early on as the design stage. Both the Viano and Vito are equipped with disc brakes all round and standard specification of all models also includes the ESP dynamic handling control system, incorporating the ABS, ASR (acceleration skid control), EBD (electronic brake force distribution) and the hydraulic Brake Assist system which boosts pressure in emergencies.
All occupants are kept firmly strapped in their seats by three-point seat belts. Belt tensioners and belt force limiters are also standard for the driver and front passenger, as is a full-size airbag on the driver’s side and, depending on the model variant, on the front passenger side too. In addition to this, the list of optional extras includes a twin-size airbag for the front passenger side and windowbags, while the new thorax sidebags are available in conjunction with the optional luxury seats.
A glance will immediately show that the characteristic Mercedes-Benz breeding is evident in the new Viano and Vito. Compared to the models they replace, the side profile has taken on a noticeably more dynamic form. The headlamps, the radiator grille and the way in which the lines flow harmoniously from the bumper back to the front windscreen and blend smoothly into the side panelling are all unmistakable traits. At the rear of the vehicle, it is the vertical strips of large-sized taillights which really make the new models stand out.
The interior specification of the two new models is all new. Whereas the interior design of the Vito is geared more towards the practical requirements of commercial applications, motorists looking for a little more luxury will find exactly what they are looking for in the Viano.
Thanks to the exemplary ergonomics of the dashboard’s design and the logical arrangement of all controls, drivers will instantly be able to find their way around the Viano. The dash-mounted selector lever or gearshift lever is optimally positioned, while the clear gauges and displays of the instrument cluster are placed within easy view of the driver.
A multifunction steering wheel is available and the generous standard specification can be supplemented to include further optional extras, such as leather-upholstered seats, auxiliary heating or one of the radio and navigation systems on offer.
The passenger compartment is fitted with an extremely practical rail system, whose 25-mm hole pattern allows for simple fitting, fore-and-aft adjustment and flexible repositioning of the individual seats and bench seats. In addition to this, both the individual seats and the segments of the bench seats can be folded flat or tilted fully forwards. The seats can be positioned to face in any direction, meaning that a vis-à-vis seating arrangement is also possible.
The range of design and equipment lines on offer – TREND, FUN and AMBIENTE – offers customers versions which have been specifically geared towards either the needs of families, recreational activities or professional use. The choice of models for either day-to-day driving, recreational use or luxury motoring combines with the different vehicle lengths which are available to produce a highly versatile product portfolio. Customers are also able to opt for one of the equipment packages entitled ‘Business’, ‘Life’ and ‘Bike’, which feature a selection of practical optional extras for specific applications.
The new Vito is available in either a Panel Van version for transporting goods and materials, or as a Crewbus for commercial passenger transport or for mixed applications. These two variants are joined by the Vito Mixto which has been specifically designed for carrying up to six people plus large quantities of material at the same time.
The three vehicle lengths and two different roof heights which are available increase the load capacity to as much as 6.49 cubic metres (previously a maximum of 4.8 cubic metres), whilst allowing the Vito to carry loads up to 2897 mm in length. The Panel Van’s sliding doors are also large enough to allow Euro pallets, for example, to be loaded from the side by fork-lift truck. The load width between the wheel arches is 1277 mm, allowing up to three Euro pallets to be loaded one behind the other.
Orders for the new Viano and Vito can be placed from mid-June. Production will take place at the DaimlerChrysler plant in Spain, where the manufacturing facilities have been practically doubled in size in preparation.