The Mercedes-Benz Viano has the presence that many MPV’s lack. But does it have the ability to match the showbiz lifestyle? Ian Robertson walks up the red carpet to find out
If you are a viewer of X-Factor, or the earlier series Pop Idol, you will already be familiar with the MPV, especially the upmarket variety to ship the groups around the country promoting the show. And there’s nothing more upmarket than Mercedes’ Viano. It has more glitz than any other MPV on the road, but is it as capable to drive as it is to be driven in?
From the curbside, you’d be hard pressed to miss that the Viano is based upon the Vito van – a bit like its predecessor, the V-Class was. Its proportions shout van, even before you’ve climbed aboard, where the driving position and up-front ambience is distinctly utilitarian. And while drivers of the Vito will be pleased with the quality of the plastics, in a £36k MPV, they feel decidedly downmarket. Quality seems to have been dumbed down in comparison with Mercedes’ normal quality, as the test car I had, was looking worn in places, with the drivers side armrest dropping off after only 100 miles. And while that may seem like a very small thing to criticise, buyers shelling out this kind of money have every right to expect more.
Once on the move, the 3.0-litre V6 turbodiesel engine allows for brisk performance, feeling punchy and poised. That is until it is asked to go around corners, where it leans and feels out of shape. The Viano is more at home pounding the motorways or at low speeds around town, where is provides a smooth and comfortable ride. The same, unfortunately can’t be said for faster roads, where the rear air suspension pitches and wallows over poor road surfaces.
Our test car was arranged so that the seats in the rear were sat opposite each other, and with a clever centre console that had tables that rise and fold out, it meant that it was a perfect vehicle for people that needed to work on the move. In addition, there was a DVD player with a screen that folded down from the roof, providing entertainment to those travelling in the back. From the outside, the Viano definitely has visual presence, with 18-inch alloy wheels along with a fully colour coded exterior. It has spoilers, side skirts and as much visual drama as a Hollywood actress, designed to get noticed as often as possible. Our test car also came fitted with satellite navigation, privacy glass and electric sliding door as standard.
There’s no doubt that if you really have to buy an MPV, then the Mercedes-Benz Viano is the poshest of the lot. It’s just a shame that you have to put up with so-so dynamics and quality in doing so. I can’t help feeling that Mercedes could do so much better, and basing the Viano on the Vito has resulted in a compromise.
- Engine: 2987cc, V6, turbodiesel
- Gearbox: 5-Speed Automatic
- Max Power: 204bhp at 3,800rpm
- Max Torque: 325lb ft at 2,000 – 2,400rpm
- Max Towing Weight: 2,000kg
- Combined Consumption: 30.7mpg
- CO 2 Emissions (taxband): 244g/km (G)
- 0-62mph: 9.7secs
- Max speed: 122mph
- Insurance group: 17
Glitz and glamour, there’s no other MPV that offers this much presence, punchy engine
Dynamically flawed, poor ride, interior quality questionable, expensive