Mercedes-Benz Metris: Happy Medium


Mercedes-Benz Metris
(Photo: Mercedes-Benz)

Not too large, and not too small, the all-new Metris may be just right for your fleet.

There’s no question that Mercedes-Benz revolutionized the van market when it introduced the Sprinter. Now it adds the Metris, a model set to carve out a new midsize segment in Canada.

Known as the Vito in overseas markets, the Metris starts at $33,900 as a cargo van, and at $37,900 in its passenger configuration. Each comes in a single trim line with available option packages.

Turbo power and rear-wheel drive

It uses a 2.0-litre turbocharged four-cylinder gasoline engine making 208 hp and 258 lb.-ft. of torque, mated to a seven-speed automatic transmission and with rear-wheel drive. Premium fuel is recommended, but it will accept 87-octane fuel. Published fuel figures weren’t available at press time, but Mercedes-Benz anticipates combined fuel economy of 10.5 L/100 km for the cargo van, and 10.9 L/100 for the passenger version. The recommended service interval is 25,000 km.

The Metris comes in single wheelbase and one roof height. Two sliding doors are standard on the passenger van, while the cargo van offers the driver’s-side slider as an option. The two rear doors can be swapped out for a liftgate on both configurations. The passenger van’s doors open 180 degrees, while the cargo van’s flip around to 270 degrees and are held in place along the van’s sides with magnets.

Driving impressions

I piloted both versions on a day’s drive, including downtown streets, on rural roads, and on the highway. Like the Sprinter, it’s very easy to drive, with light steering and a tight turning radius.

At a maximum height of 191 cm (6-foot-3), it’s more than a foot shorter than the lowest-roof Sprinter, making it ideal for tight underground parking garages where its taller sibling can’t go. Because of this, and the features available, the company expects the passenger van is going to be very popular with luxury downtown hotels and airport services that are limited in where they can store their vehicles or pick up passengers.

Passenger luxury

The passenger van’s ride is supple, and adding the available Luxury Interior Package gives you extra dampers for even more comfort. The third row is a three-passenger bench, while the standard two-passenger second row can be optioned to hold three people as well. All of the seats fit into a floor rail system and can be removed.

The cargo van’s ride is firmer, but it’s relatively quiet inside. Front storage space is good, including an open dash cubby and a large, deep bin at floor level. Since a stick shift isn’t offered here, as it is in Europe, that space is used for large cupholders unique to North American vans.

If the Metris has a flaw, it’s that the mirrors are far too small, and you’ll want to add the blind spot monitoring that’s part of the Driver Assistance Package.

Overall, this is a well-done vehicle that’s powerful, easy to manoeuvre, and comfortable. If a full-size is too big, and a compact isn’t enough, the Metris may be just right.

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