A van-full of versatility
A van is not the first vehicle that comes to mind when discussing the needs of the agricultural industry. However, Mercedes-Benz has a van for every season and every reason
Judging by the interest gathered by the Vito, V-Class and Sprinter on the Mercedes-Benz stand at Nampo each year, the idea that vans are made only for inner-city work is simply not true. The name of the game, when it comes to Mercedes-Benz Vans, is versatility.
“Mercedes-Benz Vans offers such a wide, versatile range of vans that are engineered to take on any task – they are made to carry a load. This is something even the agricultural sector picks up on,” explains Vusumzi Vusani, product and marketing manager, Mercedes-Benz Vans Southern Africa.
“The suspension systems are designed to respond to the road surface, while managing the weight the van can carry. This provides comfort for the occupants and stable handling for the driver. As commercial vehicles, the Mercedes-Benz van range is built for toughness, durability and quality … Dirt roads? No problem!” Vusani quips.
Mercedes-Benz was so confident that, to demonstrate the ability of its vans, it offered FOCUS the use of a Vito 116 Tourer Select; an eight-seater people mover that shows off the Vito’s versatility.
With its 2,2-litre, four-cylinder diesel engine, that produces 120 kW and 380 Nm, the Vito gobbled up the miles between Johannesburg and Bothaville with aplomb – loads of torque made overtaking a cinch and the six-speed manual gearbox brought overall fuel consumption down to a very reasonable 7,7 l/100 km during our time with the vehicle.
Anybody who has visited Nampo will know that the (tarred) roads around Bothaville are probably best described as “poor” … potholed, pockmarked, patched, and practically dirt in some sections. The Vito managed to maintain impressive occupant comfort while being light enough on its feet to dance around some of the more demanding obstacles.
“The Vito range boasts safety features such as Electronic Stability Control and AttentionAssist, which helps keep the driver alert. The vans are designed to keep their occupants and loads safe,” Vusani says.
They’re also designed to work… Along with the five Tourer models, the Vito range consists of three Panel Van options and two Mixto variants.
Vusani gives us an overview: “One can say that the Vito Panel Van is eager to take on any task – it’s made for loading with a three-metre load length and up to six cubic metres of volume. It also has more than 1 000 kg payload. It is easy to load, due to dual-side sliding doors and the option of either a lifting tailgate or double rear doors that open to 270°. The loading floor is low and flat, which makes it easy to load up to three pallets.
“This vehicle is great for local delivery routes, such as distributing crates of fruit. It keeps the goods neat, clean and safe,” he says.
The Mixto offers the most versatility in the range, with the ability to transport up to six passengers as well as cargo in its sealed-off cargo hold (with three cubic-metre volume) that can accommodate a pallet.
“This dual-role vehicle can be used as a family vehicle away from work (it’s great for those with an active lifestyle) and as safe and comfortable transport for staff when on the clock. Wooden floors can be fitted as an option to both the Panel Van and Mixto load compartments when the vans will have to handle extra use and abuse,” Vusani adds.
Use and abuse is something the Mercedes-Benz Sprinter is not afraid of either, especially in rugged 4×4 guise. This large, rough and tough vehicle attracted loads of attention at Nampo 2017, and it’s easy to understand why.
“It’s like a Unimog van,” says Vusani. “This vehicle goes anywhere with selectable or permanent all-wheel drive (which includes three diff locks) and four-cylinder or V6 powerplants.
“Yet it’s easy to access the cab because it’s not overly high. It’s very versatile and can be adapted to different needs: buyers can customise it to any application and it comes in three- and five-tonne variants,” Vusani says.
Then of course there is the flagship Mercedes-Benz van; the V-Class. “This vehicle is all about luxury; there is no van like it,” Vusani exclaims.
Available as either an eight or seven seater, the V-Class emphasises safety, standard equipment and prestige.
“Yes, farmers need work vehicles, but, traditionally, the family vehicle is a Mercedes-Benz and the V-Class fits the role perfectly. You can see this just by the number of people who take to the demo unit on the stand,” Vusani says.
Regardless of vehicle, one aspect of modern-day motoring that cannot be ignored is the need for efficiency. Mercedes-Benz Vans has addressed this across the range.
In the case of the Vito, for example, the range starts with the front-wheel drive 111 Panel Van, which places economy and ease of maintenance at the fore – especially considering the (up to) 40 000 km service intervals. All vehicles come with standard service plans that can be extended to full maintenance plans.
The Vito 114 and 119, and V-Class V200 and V250, variants also take environmental friendliness a step further with their Euro-6 engines.
“When you buy a Mercedes-Benz van, you buy peace of mind,” says Vusani. “Buying a Vito means that you don’t have to buy a van and fit a canopy; buying a Sprinter means that you don’t have to buy a truck and fit a body. Extras, maintenance, cost per kilometre; it’s a complete package,” he adds.
Now that’s versatility.