"The Mercedes Viano is essentially a van with more seats, so there's loads of interior space."
Available in three body sizes, Compact, Long and Extra Long, the Mercedes Viano is based on the Mercedes Vito commercial van and comes in two trims, Trend and Ambient. As standard the Mercedes-Benz Viano comes with a 2-3-3 layout offering seating for up to seven passengers plus the driver. Other layouts include a 2-2-2 layout of six individual chairs, with a centre row that can also be fitted facing backwards. All benches and individual seats slide on rails and are completely removable to offer a vast load carrying area. There are three diesel engine options available, including a range-topping 3.0-litre V6 with 220bhp.
MPG, running costs & CO2 emissions
Buyers looking for the most fuel efficient version of the Viano should go for the 134bhp 2.0 diesel engine as it is capable of 38.7mpg and produces 192g/km of CO2 which means it'll cost £245 per year to tax- all models fall into the same tax group however. The optional automatic gearbox does little to dent the running costs and is actually slightly faster.
Interior & comfort
Available in three body sizes, the two long wheelbase versions offer massses of passenger legroom, whilst headroom is plentiful in all models. The extra long versions simply add increased levels of boot space to long wheelbase versions. The standard model is adequate for most owners however. The seats are all comfortable and the the cabin is well protected from road noise, despite its commercial origins. Limited edition Avantagarde 125 models take interior comfort to luxury car levels - but it's really pricey.
Practicality & boot space
The twin-sliding doors make getting in and out of the Viano very easy, they are also very useful in tight car parking spaces. The standard seating layout consists of two front seats and two sliding three-seater rear benches, offering seating for seven passenegers and a driver. Optional arm-chair seats are available as an option replacing either row of benches, they can also be fitted in reverse, facing one-another, to create a mobile meeting room. The arm-chairs fold flat to create tables or can be removed altogether to create a huge loading bay- storing them is tricky however and they are very heavy. The large door pockets and glovebox are handy for storing loose items and the roof-hinged tailgate provides a useful shelter from the elements when loading and unloading luggage.
Reliability & safety
Crash tested in 2008 by Euro NCAP the Viano scored four stars for adult safety and three for children. The mechanical build quality of the Viano is very high as it shares a platform with Mercedes' highly dependable commercial van, the Vito. Some of the cabin materials feel much cheaper than the ones found in Mercedes cars however, although it is most noticeable in lower spec Trend models. Several recalls early in the model's life should now be completely ironed-out.
Engines, drive & performance
The driving position in the Viano is excllent for a van-based MPV offering loads of room, even for drivers well over 6ft tall. Best suited to long journeys on motorways the Viano makes perfect sense for taxi firms offering airport connections or large families planning long road trips on the continent. Because the Viano is so large parking is very tricky and on twisty, bumpy roads the ride does suffer, it remains predictable though. We'd choose the 2.2 CDI Ambiente model as it is well priced against the competition and includes the added luxury of leather seats and the smooth automatic gearbox.
Price, value for money & options
The Viano is priced around £4,000 less than the Volkswagen Caravelle, but considerably more than the Peugeot Expert Teepee. All models are well equipped featuring air conditioning, Bluetooth, electric front and rear windows, cruise control plus driver and front passenger airbags. Ambient models add an automatic gearbox, leather upholstery and wood effect trim.