2004 Mercedes-Benz Vito 110 CDI 2.2 turbo diesel, 102 hp from Singapore

Summary:

Vito sets the benchmark for van design (except interior)

Faults:

Front fog lamps not working

Horn sometimes didn't work.

General Comments:

Our family got this van through parallel import instead of the authorized MB dealer as they didn't offer this model in passenger van guise. In our country, the van was registered as a "private hire bus" and was thus way cheaper than a "private car", due to the less hefty taxes involved. It was purchased at a very low price of S$55 000 while a Toyota Estima would have cost more than 100k.

The van was originally a panel van and therefore modifications like replacing the panels with glass, installation of the rear air conditioning unit, rear seats and even the central locking system were done ex-factory by a local workshop. Unfortunately, the work quality wasn't very good, the rear windows cannot open; the rear ceiling insulation is far from adequate, the air conditioning unit wasn't very sufficient at times. You pay peanuts, you get monkeys, I suppose. This is Mercedes Benz with a rock bottom budget fitting out.

Dealer woes aside, the MB build is superb in itself. It is a world apart from the Ford Econovan or Hiace models I used to drive. With 102hp and 300nm on tap, the acceleration allows me to keep pace with cars at the stop light with ease, while the Econovan would be groaning painfully. The Vito's torque is very obvious from the engine's grunt and the way it leaps forward upon request from the foot. It drives like a car and will readily overtake cars on the road. It is a very sturdy vehicle and it does not feel light and rolls like the Japanese models do. It is very surefooted at speed as well as cornering. The gearbox spacing is also very car like with 90km/h (55mph) at around 2200 rpm, while the Hiace would be blowing its head off at around 80km/h (50 mph) in fifth. However, the down changes in gears can be very jerky if the action is not coordinated carefully. It was less a problem on the Ford.

The Vito is now the quickest performing van in Singapore now. Unfortunately, this also means that the Vito is also a favourite prey of the highly efficient Traffic Police in Singapore. This is partly due to the speed limit of commercial vehicles, regulated at 70 km/h. this is still more sensible than 60km/h of the past few years, and the initial ridiculous 50km/h. therefore, a passenger car can cruise on the highway legally at 90km/h, a van would be pulled over if he drove at 85km/h, even if the vehicle was empty. Therefore, the penalties apply irregardless of the road limit. As long as you are above the vehicular limit, you get the boot. Thankfully though, the limit is more sensible now. Anyway, I don't really give a damn about the speed limit. Just keep my eyes open for cops.

I am presently very surprised at the fuel consumption figures. Here are some consumption figures for combined cycles:

1. 1.89 litres for 27.5 miles

2. 17.08 litres for 134.8 miles

This turns out to be 4.75l/100km or 59.4mpg (UK gallons) in the first instance and 7.87 (35.9mpg) for the second. I am very pleased with the result because I am not a feather footed driver. And the routes I take are mostly a fair mix of urban crawls and highway runs at around 90km/h. This is even better than the manufacturer's quotes for the new generation Vito models. Therefore, it is a good feeling to know that you are driving a high performance vehicle (for its engine size) with the fuel frugality of a hatchback. With premium 98 petrol costing S$1.60 per litre (US$0.82) and diesel $1.01 (US $0.59) now, the difference is really felt at the pumps. A fill will generally be about US$29 for a full tank while my friend's Mazda 3 is about US$35. In all, it translates to savings of over 50% for over the petrol model of similar engine capacity.

The Vito has so far given me little manufacturer problems. The most headaches come from the inferior local modifications. However, I feel that the interior design is rather Spartan for an MB model. For example, the glove box didn't even have a cover fitted as standard. The trim also feels like any typical Japanese model. Maybe this model was targeted at the bread and butter market. The cloth seats are also unsuitable for our tropical climate as we sweat very easily. The Vito new goods van is fitted with vinyl seats. I hope that a better quality type will be fitted onto the passenger models.

Maintenance wise, the Vito has not given us a single mechanical problem so far. My friend who owns a Vito for 5 years now also said that he has not had a major problem too. However, the local mechanics baulk at the thought of a Vito. They lament that it is a very complicated vehicle to maintain, given the compactness of the front wheel drive system and the common rail system, which is still a break from traditional injection systems. A clutch, they also said, takes about a day to take apart. Their favourite is still the Hiace, which is true that it is not only a more mechanic friendly vehicle, but cheaper to maintain too. Spare parts costs for the Vito will be much more and I hope it won't give us sleepless nights.

In conclusion, the Vito has given us a very good combination of performance, dynamics and fuel economy, though the present Common Rail 3 technologies might put these strengths to shame. Improve the interior quality and this van would be much more desirable. It has drawn plenty of attention from many friends who are impressed by its interior space, performance and frugality. However, I would very much like to see MB put their more generous and state of the art 3.2 litre or even 4.0 V8 diesels into the Vito in future. It would make the Vito the van to die for.

YT Neo

Singapore

Accolades.

Would you buy another car from this manufacturer? Yes

Review Date: 19th March, 2005

5th Apr 2005, 11:00

Hello Mr Neo = pls SMS me on 97578078.

I need help in finding where to do the local window upgrading! (Now legal).

Mine is an $11K 1998 C&C Vito 108D van with no divider.

Nigel.

11th Nov 2005, 08:54

Just completed the Window upgrading.

Fantastic!!

I have a brilliant local garage - around the back of IKEA.

So I have no problem with repairs or parts - But the garage hates this vehicle!!!

2004 Mercedes-Benz Vito 109 CDI diesel from UK and Ireland

Summary:

Do not buy a Mercedes Vito

Faults:

Drivers door - Bolts come loose.

Dead battery most mornings.

Side door leaks.

Turbo system bracket snapped.

Driver's seat worn at 1000m.

Radio reception is crap.

Wheel covers always falling off.

Oil sensors went faulty.

Pollen filter was missing.

Passengers door dropped and wore the wing.

General Comments:

The can looks nice, but it was very unreliable. The dealers did not want to help.

They had 12 attempts at repairing van, but failed.

They replaced a part to stop the alarm draining the battery, but it did not have an alarm.

We have now rejected this van, and Mercedes have collected it and given us a full refund. Only 11 months old.

Would you buy another car from this manufacturer? No

Review Date: 19th February, 2005

23rd Apr 2005, 15:47

My father-in-law is having electrical problems too with his Vito 109. Its had a flat battery five times in 6 months despite having three new batteries and the problem allegedly being traced to the upper control panel. He wants to get his money back and go back to a Transit- his last one was 10 years old and never a problem in that time. How did you get a refund after 11 months?

Neal Hill.

5th Dec 2005, 12:42

It wouldn't be so bad if the dealers were helpful, but the're not & they're also bloody expensive. Van of the year 2005? Is someone having a laugh?

19th Jul 2009, 13:19

Do not think the build quality of Mercedes Vito's is very good, as mine has got rust appearing in several places and the dealer says that Mercedes are willing to repair the fault, but only if I pay 60% of the cost. This percentage relates to approx. £650.00, The vehicle is only 5 years old and it has supposedly got a 12 year paint and bodywork warranty. Other incidental parts have fallen off and I have got fed up of putting them back on, so now I don't. Gearbox has never worked properly supposed been fixed but has not, got fed up with that as well, you can only ask and try so long. Track rod end worn badly but missed in service, it was diagnosed by a one man band independent self employed mechanic.

1st Oct 2009, 15:08

Hi my 2005 Mercedes Vito 109 duiliner will not go over 70mph. I replaced the air flow valve under the oil reservoir and it went over 70mph for about 30 seconds, then went back into fault mode and will not go over 70mph again. Can anyone help me out as the main dealers are very expensive.