Mercedes Benz VITO 115 CDi Review by Martin Stich

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from my archive:

Mercedes Benz VITO 8+1 seater, 115 CDi, yr. 2007 – 2010 model, reviewed by Martin Stich – professional driver to hire in Prague

I have owned five different VITO’s so far. The first VITO was 7 + 1 seater Elegance Version, very similar to the luxury Viano. The only big differences were the suspensions and purchase price. I bought the first car used, with about 30000 kms. It was the mid-length (L), 111 CDi. I did not find the 111 CDi strong enough, nor did I find the length of the vehicle sufficient. At HFS s.r.o. Taxi & Transfers Prague we strive to improve our transfer services. We focus on passenger comfort, professional styling and car efficiency. After two years of almost flawless performance we sold the mid-sized 111 CDi and purchased two new XL VITO 115 CDi (2007). In June 2010 we purchased two new “facelift” models. Today the company fleet consists of four VITO’s, two Skoda Superbs (one Superb I sedan and one Superb II Estate), Skoda Octavia II Estate and VOLVO XC 60.

Just the fact we keep buying Mercedes Benz minibuses and Skoda cars should give you an idea of how efficient they are but read more about Mercedes Benz VITO minibus below.

Interior

Space and utility

It is simple and efficient. Driver comfort in minibus VITO is great. The driver’s seat can be equipped with two arm rests (I only have the right-hand one – left-hand drive vehicle). Left arm can comfortably rest on the left door whilst still within easy reach to the steering wheel. I would not recommend the left arm rest as it blocks your way, when getting out of the vehicle. The driver door has space for 1.5 liter bottle, leaving plenty of space for all the useful things needed within easy reach when driving. The right hand can easily reach the gear stick, radio as well as the lighter plug for connecting GPS, portable DVD or similar. While within reach the glove box, dashboard case above the radio or below the middle seat, I rather stop on the side of the road as I find reaching out that far too dangerous while driving. The space under the middle seat is great for storing snow-chains, spare oil etc. The glove box is not impressive, but stores all the vehicle-related paperwork, spare bulbs and couple of CDs as well as the GPS and charger. The dashboard shelf is useful for plain paper, vouchers or e.g. credit card checks. I prefer the open version of the shelf (without the optional lid), as at certain engine rounds the lid can vibrate. There are a few other spots where you can leave markers, mobile phone, glasses within the driver’s reach. The slide-out ashtray is combined with a cup holder which is handy.

The chairs are divided in to three rows:
Front row – driver’s seat + two passenger’s seats – when driving 8 passengers, it can be difficult to reach the gear stick without touching the clients’ knee (not necessarily bad, but let’s stay professional! :-D). Driver’s seat can be fully adjusted. The two front passenger’s seats are joint and fixed. Its position can NOT be adjusted. I experience passengers do not find it comfortable during longer trips e.g. Frankfurt or Vienna.
Middle row – bench seat for three passengers with arm-rests on each end and sufficient leg room. There are containers on sides where customers can put water bottles, snacks, purses. Be sure to check these containers when dropping people off, apart from the left off rubbish you can find passports, cameras and other important personal belongings.
Third Row – bench seat for three passengers with arm-rests integrated in the car walls. The leg room in the rear seats is as impressive as in the middle row.

I prefer minibuses to regular sedans. Firstly you can see more and you see further. Secondly the chairs provide better seating comfort and even after 1000 Kms (Budapest return transfer or Zurich transfer) I do not feel tired. When I drive a regular car (I have driven Mercedes Benz S class, Audi A6, Skoda Superb and other), I feel like I was hit by a truck to my back. I have never suffered this way in a minivan.

Boot

Massive, spacious and very useful. It can hold up to 12 decent size bags or 8 very big. The door can be used as a shelter from the rain when you load/unload the baggage, but be careful when closing it, it holds lots of water on the top, one of my colleagues got himself street-showered! Unlike the VW minivans the VITO has square rear door (without ledges) thus one does not hit his head when closing it. I hit my head hard many times with the MultiVan VW rear door. I find the VITO more ergonomic.

minibus for 8 passengers
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Exterior

The design of the car can not be faulted. I prefer the version with two sliding doors rather than the single sliding doors. Certainly there are cases where the second sliding door can be dangerous particularly customers from right-hand-driving country who jump out of the car without looking, but if one is aware, all should be safe and sound. I have worked with both body types and my experience is that the utility of the extra sliding door on the left side is unquestionable. Even though it costs extra 20000 CZK (approximately 900 Euro), it is worth it. In fact sometimes it makes the drop off a lot safer (dropping off on the left side of a busy road).

Engine, performance, maintenance, servicing

Engine, driving experience, performance

The 115 CDi 2.2 liter gives almost 150 HP, which is sufficient even with the full load. I cannot say the same about the 111 CDi 2.2 litre though. I should not forget to mention that 115 CDi gets green vignette for Germany city centers, unlike the 111 CDi that can hardly reach the limits for yellow vignette. The rear-wheel drive, satisfactory powerful engine and long body provides maximum comfort for passengers as well as the driver. Other drivers often complain about rear-wheel drive in winter, but I cannot complain as long as the car is loaded and/or equipped with good tyres like Michelin or Pirelli snow grip. This season on the way to Spindleruv Mlyn, Pec pod Snezkou or Salzburg I have been testing Nokian and Bridgestone tyres as well as Michelin and I cannot fault any. Although the Nokian and Bridgestone tyres were cheaper than Michelin, it is more expensive to correct the weight balance.

As a driver I feel very confident in the Mercedes Benz VITO minibus. Enough traction, satisfactory power allowing easy over taking on a regular road as well as decent speed maintaining on a freeway, in addition to the great view gives the driver all what he needs.

Maintenance

I partly service the Mercedes Benz VITO’s at the authorized service points, because they offer great deals on following jobs: the oil and oil filter, the diesel filter, the air and dust filters replacement. All other jobs are done at regular garages where you do not get ripped off. Official Mercedes Benz garage charge 45 Euro per each hour where regular garage charge 10 – 15 Euro. I insist on the use of original parts though (breaks, suspensions, stabilizers etc.). In average I do not spend more than 250 Euro for a warranty check – all inclusive. So far my experience with VITO’s has been very positive. I find the car very reliable and spare parts decently priced.

Performance

I have already mentioned that the car is powerful. The mileage varies according to the driving-style and traffic condition. Driving in the city means average mileage 10 – 12 litres per 100 kms. Long distance driving with maximum speed not exceeding 130 Km/hour can allow mileage below 8.8 litres. Once you get off the freeway and drive according to the speed limits (90 Km/hour in the Czech Republic, 100 Km/hour Austria, Germany, Poland) you can easily drop below 8.2 litres!!! On the freeway in Germany, where you do not worry about the speed limit you can manage 170 Km per hour with the average mileage exceeding 14 litres. Basically every 10 kilometres over 130 Km per hour takes another litre of diesel.

The VITO is heavier than a regular car and needs different approach when it comes to overtaking. The way most people use to overtake other vehicles will not work here. You cannot pass if you maintain the same speed as the car you are hoping to overtake. The timing of the overtaking manoeuvre is crucial, because it takes a while to accelerate. Once you get used to keeping distant and starting accelerating earlier you can takeover almost anyone within a very limited time. In fact I feel uncomfortable in the opposite lane. I wrote I was not a racer in my first review

Summary

I have been driving Mercedes Benz VITO more than 5 years and I adore it. For business and for family – the VITO XL 115 CDi.

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