New Mercedes T-Class compact people carrier arrives 

Mercedes T-Class van-based MPV uncovered as an upmarket rival to the VW Caddy and Ford Tourneo Connect

  • New T-Class is a small five-seat van-baed MPV
  • Longer version with seven seats in the pipeline
  • Fully electric ‘EQT’ version also on the way

Mercedes has revealed the latest addition to its broad roster of models: the new T-Class. It’s a small MPV that’s based on the Mercedes Citan compact van, and will be Mercedes’ alternative to other van-derived people carriers of similar size like the VW Caddy, Ford Tourneo Connect, Citroen Berlingo and Vauxhall Combo Life, to name but a few.

While ostensibly derived from a commercial vehicle, the new T-Class gets a plusher cabin and slightly tweaked looks to give it a more upmarket look and feel. This will almost certainly result in the T-Class being a bit more expensive than many of its rivals – while UK prices will be revealed closer to the car’s launch, preliminary prices for the T-Class in Germany suggest the Mercedes will be a few thousand pounds dearer than an equivalent VW Caddy.

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Initially, Mercedes will launch the T-Class as a five-seater model with diesel and petrol engine options. More variety will come to the T-Class range in the not-too-distant future, though: a longer version with seating for seven is on the way, as is a fully electric version called the Mercedes EQT.

New 2022 Mercedes T-Class: practicality

By virtue of being derived from a small van, the Mercedes T-Class isn’t the sleekest small family car you’ll find, though the boxy dimensions do at least pave the way for good practicality. At 2,716mm, the T-Class’ wheelbase (the distance between the front and rear wheels) is around 13mm shorter than that of the similarly-sized Mercedes B-Class MPV, yet at 1,811mm tall it’s 249mm taller. Taller passengers who feel the B-Class is a bit tight on head room for them shouldn’t have the same complaint with the T-Class.

The T-Class’ bluff proportions lend themselves to a decent boot size, too. With all the rear seats in place, there’s 520 litres of luggage volume up to the height of the parcel shelf. For reference, the similarly-sized Mercedes B-Class has a boot capacity of up to 455 litres with all the rear seats in place.

From launch, the Mercedes T-Class will only be available as a five-seater model. A longer and more versatile seven-seater version is confirmed to be on the way, though Mercedes has yet to say exactly when this long-wheelbase T-Class will go on sale in the UK.

Interior and technology

Much like its bigger brother, the Mercedes V-Class, the Mercedes T-Class shares a lot of its interior architecture with the panel van on which it’s based, though comes with a few more gadgets and creature comforts that make it feel a bit plusher inside.

As standard, the new T-Class comes with faux-leather upholstery, a seven-inch touchscreen, air conditioning, LED interior lighting and keyless start. On the safety assist front, all versions of the Mercedes T-Class come out of the box with a hill start assist, blind spot monitoring, a lane keep assist and a driver drowsiness monitoring system. Isofix child seat mounting points are available on the front passenger and outer rear seats, and Mercedes claims the rear bench is wide enough to accommodate three child seats fitted side-by-side.

There will also be a selection of features that will be offered on the T-Class as optional extras. Highlights include two-zone climate control, built-in sat nav, LED headlights and an autonomous parking assist that can control the car’s steering when you’re reversing into a parking spot. Do also bear in mind that the entry-level Mercedes T-Class doesn’t get a reversing camera or electric rear windows as standard. 

Engines

At launch, Mercedes will offer the T-Class with a selection of engine options, split evenly between petrols and diesels. There’ll be a 1.5-litre four-cylinder diesel with either 93bhp or 114bhp, depending on whether you opt for the less potent T160d and punchier T180d, whereas on the petrol front there is a 1.3-litre four-cylinder engine in 100bhp T160 and 129bhp T180 flavours.

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This engine range is shared with the Mercedes Citan panel van on which the T-Class is based and that van's sister model, the Renault Kangoo, so the on-paper performance isn’t spectacular – the entry-level diesel takes 15.1 seconds to accelerate to 62mph from a standing start, and even the brawniest petrols take 11.6 seconds to complete the same sprint. The engine’s commercial vehicle-derived roots do at least bode well for decent oomph when the T-Class is fully laden, and if you need to haul more items Mercedes claims a maximum towing capacity of 1,500kg for all T-Class models.

Regardless of the engine under the bonnet, the Mercedes T-Class will be front-wheel drive, and all versions come as standard with a six-speed manual gearbox. A seven-speed automatic gearbox will also be available as an option on all engines bar the entry-level petrol.

Eventually, Mercedes will launch a fully electric version of the T-Class, called the EQT. However, there’s no concrete release window for this vehicle yet, which suggests the Mercedes EQT won’t go on sale until 2023.

What does it mean for car buyers?

While it’s easy for Mercedes to make the T-Class because it shares so much with the Citan van, it’s an interesting decision to target the smaller van-based MPV market. The cars it rivals are all much cheaper than a normal MPV or SUV, and buyers choose them partly for the value for money they offer. A more upmarket, luxury version seems to go against that ethos, and Mercedes’ partnership with Nissan and Renault didn’t work out so well last time they made a passenger model; the Nissan Navara-based Mercedes X-Class was withdrawn after just two years on sale.

Read our guides to the best small vans and the cars with the biggest boots.

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