Is the RM 342k 10-seater Mercedes-Benz Vito Tourer a better Alphard / Staria?
Hans · Nov 18, 2021 10:00 AM
The recently launched 10-seater Mercedes-Benz Vito Tourer (CBU from Vitoria, Spain) available at Hap Seng Star competes in a sparsely populated segment.
As far Malaysia is concerned, the Vito Tourer has no direct rival, though the RM 446k Toyota Alphard 3.5L, RM 367k Toyota Vellfire 2.5L, and the RM 359k Hyundai Staria – all 7-seater vans - falls within the same shopping basket.
So who needs a 10-seater vehicle? More importantly, who pays RM 342k for what is essentially a high-end tourist vehicle?
Hap Seng Group is Malaysia’s oldest dealer for Mercedes-Benz commercial vehicles, tracing its history to more than 50 years ago in 1969 Sabah, then operating under the Si Khong Star name. Hap Seng Group knows this market like few others.
In 2018, MBM sold its entire commercial vehicles business to Hap Seng Trucks Distribution Sdn. Bhd. So when the folks at Hap Seng Group say there is a business case for the Vito Tourer even though our market is filled with cheap recond Toyota Alphards and Vellfires, we sit up and listen.
There is a small but healthy demand for a Mercedes-Benz vehicle that can carry a family of five, one or two domestic helpers, plus grandparents / or grandchildren in tow, with the safety and comfort that Hap Seng Star’s customers have come to expect.
Even for those who often travel with 6 or 7 adults, there is simply not enough room behind for everyone’s luggage, which is why some families need 4-row seat vans.
As good as a Toyota Alphard is, its three-row 7/8-seater layout just won’t do for some families. At the moment, there is no product on sale in Malaysia that can meet their requirement.
Once you move beyond 7 or 8 seater vans, the available options suddenly thin out. There are plenty of more of the same cheap Chinese clones of Toyota Hiaces but you wouldn’t want to put your family on a long distance trip in one of these.
The next closest alternative is the Hyundai Grand Starex, which only comes with 4 airbags and has no advance driving assistance systems (ADAS) safety features.
In comes the 10-seater Vito Tourer. It’s essentially a 4-row seat version (2-3-2-3) of the 3-row seat Mercedes-Benz V-Class, which has since been discontinued here.
Yes it is true that the Vito Tourer has its roots in cargo carrying commercial vans used by blue collar workers in Europe but the same can be said for all 4-row seat vans, including the Toyota GranAce / Hiace Majesty / Super Grandia.
Once you move beyond 3 row seats, passenger car platforms like the ones used by a front-wheel drive Toyota Alphard can’t cope with the additional weight and extended length.
To deliver the same comfort and safety while hauling so much weight, you need a rear-wheel drive (for better traction with heavy load in the rear) ladder frame chassis of commercial vans.
So what does the Vito Tourer offer to justify its higher price? This being a Mercedes-Benz, 6 airbags and electronic stability control is a given.
The extra money goes into ADAS features that include Active Distance Assist Distronic (adaptive cruise control), Lane Keeping Assist, Active Brake Assist (autonomous emergency braking), blind spot assist, LED headlights with High Beam Assist Plus.
Even the van’s electronic stability control has been upgraded with a built-in Crosswind Assist function to reduce swerving caused by strong winds. Drivers of sedans and SUVs won’t notice the effects of crosswinds much because the lower, smaller, and more curvaceous side profile of such vehicles.
However in a tall, flat-sided van, winds that would otherwise blow past a sedan or SUV on a highway can become strong enough to push a large van sideways. To counter this, Crosswind Assist applies selective braking on individual wheels to keep the car straight.
Tyre pressure monitoring system, crucial on a heavy-load carrying vehicle, is also standard.
The sporty 17-inch wheels are paired with Comfort Suspension. Inside, the Vito Tourer’s other party trick is its seats, which can be configured in multiple ways, thanks to its ‘quick release seat rails system.’
Beyond removing the last row seat to convert the 10-seater into a 7-seater with more cargo space in the rear, owners can also turn the seats around and convert the Vito Tourer into a mobile office or meeting room.
All seats are wrapped in black leather. In front, there’s a 4-way power adjustable front seats. The 7-inch touch screen Audio 30 infotainment supports both Android Auto and Apple CarPlay.
All rear seat rows get individual roof-mounted air-conditioning vents at the sides. Temperature is controlled semi-automatically by the Tempmatic feature (fan speed is manual adjusting), while front occupants are cooled by the fully automatic Thermotronic feature.
The power sliding doors are power operated on both sides, but the tailgate is a manual opening type.
Owners will be happy to know that the Vito Tourer uses the same engine and transmission as the 250 series cars that used to sit between the 200 and 300 series, the sweet spot C250, E250, and GLC 250.
The 2.0-litre turbocharged 4-cylinder M274 petrol engine makes 211 PS and 350 Nm, paired to a 9-speed automatic transmission (9G-Tronic).
This 10-seater Mercedes-Benz Vito Tourer is available at Hap Seng Star - authorized Mercedes-Benz dealer, and comes with a 2+2 years warranty. Imported (CBU) from Vitoria, Spain, prices start from RM 342,036.
For reference, UMW Toyota’s 7-seater 180 PS / 235 NmToyota Vellfire 2.5L sells for RM 367,881, while the 300 PS / 361 NmToyota Alphard 3.5L twin sells for RM 446,609. Hyundai Sime Darby's 7-seater 177 PS / 431 Nm 2.2L turbo diesel Hyundai Staria starts from RM 358,888.
Is it a better buy than the above stalwarts over the commercial van-based 10-seater Vito Tourer? Only if you need to carry more than 7 adults, because there is simply no safer and better option to move that many people than the Vito Tourer.
But if 7 seats is enough for you, then of course the 7 seats Alphard / Vellfire is better because it feels more like a passenger car, with more luxurious seats, and is easier to get in and out of simply because there are less seats to move between. For others, the problem is precisely because it has less seats. Different vans for different needs.
Interested buyers who want to view the Vito Tourer can fill up their details here. A Hap Seng Star representative will be in touch with you to schedule a viewing session.